Title: Adter the End of the World
Author: Johanthan L. Howard
Series: Carter and Lovecraft
Genre: Mystery, horror, thriller
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Originally I gave this a generous 3 stars. But after thinking about it for a few days I just can't give it three. Sorry Jonathan L. Howard I do usually love your writing and works, but this one fell flat.
This is book 2 to Carter & Lovecraft, and of course features our two leads Carter and Lovecraft.
It's hard to say anything about After The End of the World without giving away book 1. So consider yourself warned if you read further that it sorta kinda spoils book one's big twist.
The gist is we are in a world where the Nazis never lost the war. Instead they blew up Russia in order to win. Cool right? Sure.
Now knowing that our characters remember the real world is one of two interesting things in this story. Especially Lovecraft's continual hate for the Nazis; even though in this world they ended the war early and became heroes. And her hate reminds us over and over again if why prejudice is brutal. Because really Nazis who didn't even fight with the army in WWII kind of aren't bad guys necessarily in this world. Although it's hard to argue with the black female librarian in her hatred. She is after all demeaned and written off as unimportant many times based on her dark skin colour and gender. Although at one point she does wonder what people hate most about her... that she's black, that she's female or that she's a librarian and can kicks ass with a shotgun in hand. These moments of wit kept me alive through much of the dreary boringness to come.
The 2nd Interesting Thing
In case your skimming, interesting thing number 1 was Nazis won WWII but out characters know that's not 'right'. They remember our world, the way it was.
The second coolest thing is the link-ups to Lovecraft literature. Now book 1 had a fair bit of this. But book 2 ramps it up. I'm not even close to an obsessive Lovecraft fan, so I'm confident many references went over my head; but the ones that won't for almost anyone familiar with the Horror genre and/or H.P. Lovecraft are these two: the town of Providence is now called Arkham (yes for you Batman fans they stole this name from H.P. Lovecraft--although I believe it's perfect for the Asylum name) and the Necronomican is real.
Yeah that's right. It's real!!
Except then Howard does the worst possible thing...
We suddenly find ourselves in a spy/thriller novel with too many scientists names, too many secret agencies I've never heard of, and too much crap I don't care about.
All in an attempt to get our characters to an ultimate standoff. Seriously 300 pages of almost entirely filler where our characters say to themselves I think we are supposed to do this; even when it makes no sense and seems irrelevant.
Now I'll give Howard this, those 300 pages are relevant eventually. But mostly by the end (even after some cool stuff happens) I just didn't care and wanted it to be over.
Had this been written by an author that I didn't know and respect I would have DNF'd it. I know tragic to say that but it was really that boring for 3/4 of the book.
There is an opening left for a third book (because this universe could actually be truly infinite the way its set-up). And yes I'll probably cave and read it too. Why? Because I know Howard can make witty, satirical magic with words and I refuse to believe he's out of magic.
And so I'm going to hope that this was an anomaly. A bad editor, a rushed publication date, a hard time in Howard's life; it does even matter, because honestly I'll take any excuse so I can keep believing Howard hasn't gone downhill.
Do yourself a favour and go read Howard's Johannes Cabal series instead; or stop at book 1 and I'll let you know if book 3 is better than this book 2.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.