Reviews > Published on March 10th, 2015

Bookshots: 'Shotguns v. Cthulhu' by Various Authors

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Shotguns v. Cthulhu

Who Wrote It?

It’s a short story collection featuring many authors.

Pick this one up to restore the smallest sliver of hope to a coldly indifferent universe full of malevolent gods.

Plot in a Box:

Although inspired by the horrific, hostile universe of H.P. Lovecraft, the characters in these stories are not overwhelmed with existential dread when confronted with the cosmological terrors of the Cthulhu mythos, but rather grit their teeth and shoot those terrors in whatever passes for their face.

Invent a new title for this book:

How to Murder an Eldritch God

Read this if you liked:

H.P. Lovecraft, obviously. Many of the stories also have a flavor similar to the show Supernatural.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

They are many and varied, but here are a few highlights. In “Old Wave” a young warrior defends his tribe from a cursed necklace. “Lithic” follows a lonely security guard’s slow descent into madness. “Last Things Last” imagines a secret FBI task force dedicated to stomping out Cthulhu’s unholy work. A UCLA professor attempts to harness the power of a void hound in “Snack Time,” while a pair of college drug dealers find themselves on the worst trip ever in in “Breaking Through.” My personal favorites were the sisters who hunt Eldritch horrors in the Georgia swamps with a combination of Southern gumption and MacGyver-grade ingenuity in “The One in the Swamp.”

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Limiting it to just “The One in the Swamp,” Jennifer Lawrence and Chloe Grace Moretz would play the monster-slaying sisters, if they can get the accents right.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Maybe we already do. (Cue ominous music.)

What was your favorite sentence?

I wished that we could skip back a few weeks, back to the way things were, back when we just killed things and never asked questions.

The Verdict:

Shotguns v. Cthulhu is a lot of fun, which is not a word I’d ever use to describe H.P. Lovecraft. That’s not a denigration of the man’s work. These authors clearly have a love for the original mythos, and have repurposed it in interesting ways for a more modern audience. While some of these stories still maintain the oppressively dark outlook of Lovecraft, most present characters who can fight back, or even benefit from the rise of unclean powers. They’re also much more action-oriented, and tend to be more on the side of exciting rather than depressing. There was only one story out of fifteen that I found to be a dull and tedious waste of words (“Wuji”), so it’s certainly a good value collection. If you enjoy Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories but wish the characters did more than simply crumble into gibbering insanity, this is the book for you. However, if you are completely unfamiliar with the trappings of this shared mythology you might find it a bit obtuse and hard to understand. Maybe read “The Call of Cthulhu” first, and then pick this one up to restore the smallest sliver of hope to a coldly indifferent universe full of malevolent gods.

About the author

BH Shepherd is a writer and a DJ from Texas. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2005 with degrees in English and Demonology after writing a thesis about Doctor Doom. A hardcore sci-fi geek, noir junkie and comic book prophet, BH Shepherd has spent a lot of time studying things that don’t exist.  He currently resides in Austin, where he is working on The Greatest Novel Ever.

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