Tag: Arkham Horror

Mask of Silver

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Arkham Horror book Mask of Silver by Rosemary Jones, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Signthe cooperative dice game.

The Story

Like the rest of the Arkham Horror novels, its set in the 1920s specifically 1923 and sees a silent movie being produced in the town of Arkham by horror director Sydney Fitzmaurice (who in my head is Nathan Lane, not sure why, just is).

His costume designer Jeany Lin is the protagonist, and her sister Renee Love is Sydney’s muse and star. Sydney has relocated his company to his home town of Arkham where he is going to film a movie filled with thrills and the occult that will make a fortune for the studio and perhaps a lot more.

The story is a very slow burner, with the majority of the book being character development and just sight hints at the horror to come.

There is a lot of background on the production of silent movies, which in itself is fascinating, you can really tell that Jones has done her research and the book is grounded in realty, which makes it all the more creepy.

As things go wrong and the behaviour of Sydney just isn’t right Jeany investigates his past to discover what is going on in the mansion, why people are being hurt during the production and why does the silver mask haunt her dreams.

Conclusion

This is a slow paced book, but it’s deliberate and thoughtful, a very clever plot that is woven together so very well.

The main characters are well rounded, and extremely believable, the background players less so, but there is enough there that they aren’t just window dressing.

Arkham itself doesn’t my really feature too much as the story is set mostly in the Fitzmaurice mansion on French Hill, with the occasional trip to a nearby diner.

But there is a truly creepy atmosphere in the story, and it makes your skin crawl just a little bit.

Jeany is a wonderful protagonist and she offers a real insight into the contribution of Chinese-Americans to early cinema, a contribution that Jones suggests you read up in the notes after the story.

The end in a way felt rushed, but in many ways was not at all, it’s quite old fashioned in that the book builds up the story and characters so that you care about them, and then concludes quite explosively!

This was a book that I really really enjoyed and it’s a shame it took me so long to read it, but I really do highly recommend it.

A solid 5 stars from me!


The eBook and paperback are out now!


Litany of Dreams

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Arkham Horror book Litany of Dreams by Ari Marmell, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Sign the cooperative dice game.

The Story

Like the rest of the Arkham Horror novels, its set in the 1920s and in this case revolves around the disappearance of a gifted young student at Miskatonic University as his roommate searches high and low in his friends research for clues to his disappearance, and at the same time struggles against a litany that’s ceaseless in his mind and threatening to drive him into insanity.

The search takes on a new twist when an Inuit search for a stolen relic of his people crosses paths with him, and they find themselves joining forces to get to the bottom of the mystery and unearth a terrifying and ancient horror.

We get to delve a bit deeper into the lore of the Cthulhu mythos in this book than any of the others so far, and we have a very well rounded plot with characters with various motivations joining forces to prevent an apocalyptic event overtaking the world.

Mostly focusing on Elliot and Billy, the story is almost a mismatched buddy novel, crossed with mild horror and a bit of pulp detective thrown in for good measure.

Conclusion

The book was a very enjoyable read and a real page turner, the two main protagonists were very well developed and had just enough of a backstory to keep you interested, but without delving into too much. The motivation of Elliot, felt a little obvious, but when revealed is still highly dramatic and heartbreaking.

Billy seemed a little, well not obvious as to his background, its talked about a lot, the racism he experiences is subtle and all the more awful for that, but his background didn’t come through enough for me, I would have liked to have had this explored a bit more, but he was a very cool character.

Now I do have a negative thing to say, and that is that the female characters felt a tad underserved, we have two, strong and dynamic women in this book, and I felt that none of them got the service they deserved.

The main female character ups and leaves the group in the last quarter of the book and isn’t heard from again, so we have no idea how the events impacted her, or how she dealt with what happened. She didn’t even get in the epilogue and for me that wasn’t good at all.

The other main female character meets a tragic end, and it makes sense for her, what happens to her in the story makes what happens to her in the end seem logical, but with the dropping of the other character from the plot, I dunno, it just didn’t feel the same after I put the book down.

But regardless of this annoyance for me, the book was highly enjoyable and one I read in what felt like record time. The horror is initially slow and building, until the middle of the book when it becomes very real, some of it being almost post-apocalyptic in nature, and some feeling all too close to how things are in the world right now.

Would I recommend this book, yes, absolutely, its a solid 4.5 out of 5 for me, and to be honest had the epilogue resolved that one characters story arc, it would have been a 5.

The eBook is released on the 13th April and the paperback hits the shelves on 24th June.


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