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Department Zero Paperback – January 24, 2017
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“The narrative is fast-paced and fun, and the set pieces are well imagined…. The humor is on point, and Priest is an affable ne’er-do-well who only wants to see his young daughter grow up. His delight at the wonder of multiple worlds offers a nice contrast to Graves’s wry, world-weary affect. Lovecraft fans might have a lot of fun with this one.”
About the Author
Paul Crilley is the author of The Osiris Curse and The Lazarus Machine. Born in Scotland in 1975, he moved to South Africa when he was eight years old. He was rather disappointed to find out that he would not, in fact, have elephants and lions strolling through his backyard. He now lives in a small village on the east coast of South Africa with his family. He writes fantasy, Young Adult, and Middle Grade books and also works in South African television. He spent a year as part of the writing team for the computer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and also writes comics when he can get a chance.
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Top Customer Reviews
Clearly, what got me here was the tantalizing everything H.P. Lovecraft wrote is true. (Including, if you're watching the news, the rampant racism and xenophobia. But I digress.) Unfortunately, rather than weird fiction, Crilley delivers something that may just barely qualify as odd, and that only if you squint and hope really hard. Sure, there are some trappings - Nyarlathotep! Cthulhu! The Dreamlands! The hounds of Tindalos! (which, by the way, technically Derleth, though HPL mentioned them later...so are we saying everything in the Mythos is true? Not just HPL proper? Sorry, nerd moment.) - but the plot is straight-vanilla fantasy action thriller, with fight set piece after fight set piece, most of which (four - I counted) end up with the protagonist getting knocked out and waking up tied/strapped/chained to a chair/table/pillar. I mean, for pity's sake, the climax involves *face-punching Shub-Niggurath.* Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn, and isn't paying enough attention to kill us all with a cosmic eye-rolling.
Though Crilley's characters remain flat and far less witty than he seems to think they are, Department Zero works fairly well as a knock-off supernatural thriller, careening from plot point to plot with determination and verve. If the author relies too heavily on deus ex machina, he at least winkingly acknowledges it, and any readers who haven't actually read their way through the entire collected works of Lovecraft and attended NecronomiCon twice (read: those of you with lives) will probably find it a pleasing enough distraction. For the devotee of HPL, however, it may well drive you near to madness at the missed opportunity, which is perhaps the most Lovecraftian thing that can be said of it.
In particular, I liked the narrator, Harry Priest, who seems much more NORMAL than most fantasy protagonists, especially with his strong love for his little daughter. The other characters, however, do not have much, uh, character.
That plot itself, was a bit of a disappointment. The quest of the Department Zero team through multiple worlds to save the multiverse from being destroyed by the reawakening of Chthulu seemed rather stock, and the worldbuilding relied too much on giant insects to impress me. The book description mentions travel between alternate realities such as a Victorian England where Queen Victoria has reigned for 101 years, and I had expected and looked forward to more imaginings and deeper explorations of that sort. Perhaps if I had not had that expectation I would have enjoyed the main plotline more. Or I might not have decided to read the book at all.
Nonetheless, Department Zero held my interest enough that I had trouble deciding between a 3 or a 4 rating, until I thought about the ending. Based on the Epilogue, it seems possible that there could be another book set in this world. Would I read it? Do I care enough about Harry to follow his story? Not really. If, however, you are the sort who can’t get enough of quest stories, you might disagree.
Should appeal to fans of Christopher Moore, Tom Holt, Jeff Strand, Jim Butcher, and Douglas Adams as well as fans of H. P. Lovecraft who have a sense of humor.
It has a bit of a contrived feel at times, with plot elements happening just so because reasons, but the tone carries it even when the plot doesn't.
I expect this to be the start of a series, and i will pick up Book 2 when it comes out.
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