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.
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.
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!
- Mood:- Frustrated
- Caffeinated Beverages Consumed:- 4
- In My Ears:- Centuries – Fallout Boy
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- Video Game Last Played:- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
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