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Orginally published at Fangoria.com on August 19. 2009

CTHULHU UNBOUND VOLUME 1, contains 15 chilling tales of monstrosity dedicated to the H.P. Lovecraft mythology. According to Lovecraft’s cosmic universe, Cthulhu is the Great Old One, an indescribable giant creature, who will bring about doomsday. The collection, edited by Thomas Brannon and John Sunseri, asks the writers to create a diabolical world where horrifying demons have taken control of earth and dwindling humanity is left fighting.

A few of the shorts deal with military escapades and the aftermath of war. The battle commences with an air force fighter firing missiles at a massive hell born beast in, “The Invasion Out of Time,” by Trent Roman. Author D. L. Snell continues the trend in “Blood Bags and Tentacles,” with his tragic narrative about an obsessed soldier disobeying orders to seek his lost brother down dark tunnels covered with hideous blood-sucking creatures. The most effective anti-war message comes from John Goodrich’s “The Patriot.” A dying WWI soldier is carried by Death across a plain of rotting corpses. Death recounts the centuries he has witnessed of men killing each other for the sake of victory. As the solider drowsily listens on, he knows when his eyes finally close; Death will eat his flesh.

I do believe the average reader will have difficulty getting into the Lovecraftian mythology. The reader is already supposed to know that the Cthulhu mythos revolves around an end-of-the-world scenario and instantly recognize references to Arkham. They may also unknowingly dismiss the reappearance of a major character from H. P. Lovecraft’s short story, “The Call of Cthulhu.” I’m assuming it’s supposed to be a big deal when Inspector Raymond Legrasse returns to solve a missing person’s case in C.J. Henderson’s “Locked Room.”

Though the reader has to catch up on the mythology, the stories are still entertaining by themselves. The one that impressed me the most is “James and the Dark Grimoire,” by Kevin Lauderdale.  I thought it was very funny how the author could easily place comedy in a Lovecraftian tale. Wealthy Reginald Brubaker and his butler, James, are having a tough time with pre-wedding jitters. They need help from the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead, to save the wedding from disaster.

The first volume in the collection, CTHULHU UNBOUND VOLUME 1, is overall inventive because they each cover a different range. At the start, you’re reading a noir tale about a demon investigating its own murder. In the next, two superheroes prevent a fanatical cult from unleashing pure evil into our dimension. The references to H.P. Lovecraft’s universe may confuse some but if you already know them, each tale is a thrilling ride into chaos and terror. For those who wish to go for another ride after finishing should continue with the second volume of CTHULHU UNBOUND.

CTHULHU UNBOUND VOLUME 1 can be purchased through Permutated Press at www.permutatedpress.com/