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Harrison Squared: Harrison Squared Trilogy #1 Hardcover – March 24, 2015
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"A thoroughly entertaining novel."―Publishers Weekly
"The combination of coming-of-age story, Lovecraftian horror, and mystery is at turns gently funny and intensely scary, a tough balance that Gregory (Afterparty) pulls off successfully."―Library Journal
"A tale handled with confidence and control, with loads of salty, piscine atmosphere...Superior, with plenty of crossover teen appeal."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
DARYL GREGORY was the 2009 winner of IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award for his first novel Pandemonium. His second novel, The Devil's Alphabet, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and was named one of the best books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly. His short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and The Year's Best SF. He has also written comics for BOOM! Studios and IDW.
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Here’s the basic set up: Harrison and his mother, a marine biologist, have moved to the town of Dunnsmouth, on an isolated and eerie section of bluffs on the Maine Coast. On his first day at his new school, Harrison is introduced to a half-dozen strange characters. Perhaps none are as strange as the students themselves, who are all homogeneously somber, antisocial, and goth-pale. At first, Harrison’s classmates seem to be a cross between the Addams family and the Children of the Corn.
My favorite parts of the book are the descriptions of Dunnsmouth Secondary and its faculty. There’s the trio of lunch ladies, hunched over their cauldron of stew, and sharing one pair of glasses—like the witches of Greek mythology (or of ‘Clash of the Titans’). There’s the love-lorn (and spaced-out) Nurse Mandi. Then there’s Harrison’s friend Lub, whose strange affinity for Aquaman is NOT the strangest thing about him. The characters are creepy and amusing. Another stand-out is Harrison’s glamorous aunt from Manhattan, who is sharp-tongued, smugly used to getting her way, and also surprisingly magnetic and charming.
Overall, I felt the plot was pretty straightforward. Perhaps that was a result of Gregory writing for the young-adult market. There were a few surprising developments among secondary characters, and a few narrative devices that set up a nice mood of mystery and suspense. And the end had a bit of a twist to it that I wasn’t expecting, which sets up nicely for a possible sequel.
One, it has a male protagonist, which made a nice change from the usual YA story. Two, there is no romance; the hero is focused on solving a mystery. Three, Lovecraftian overtones.
Harrison accompanies his mother on her marine biology research mission. They rent a place in a mysterious coastal town and Harrison begins attending school there. Harrison's mother vanishes while at sea and Harrison is determined to find her.
Overall a fun creepy story with Lovecraftian themes. Most of the story is told from Harrison's viewpoint, but there are a few scenes from his mother's perspective. Harrison makes a good hero; he is smart, determined, resilient, and self-reliant.
Harrison Harrison--or Harrison Squared--is a character I was first introduced to in Daryl Gregory's outstanding novel, WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE. In this new novel, we are presented with a prequel, of sorts, showing us events that Harrison faced in the town of Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts as a young teenager.
The first thing that I thought it vital to know: this novel is not of the same intensity of WAACF. As it is the story of a young Harrison, it is told in a young-adult style. You won't find a lot of gruesome descriptions or "bad" language here--many of the scenes leave that up to the readers' imaginations. Considering that this is from the point-of-view of a younger boy, I personally found that this works in the story's favor, as it makes Harrison's character that much more authentic.
Knowing that this was more of a YA Lovecraftian-Fantasy novel ahead of time actually heightened my enjoyment, since I wasn't expecting anything else.
Yes, this is Lovecraft's famous Dunnsmouth--home to the Deep Ones, Elders, and Gregory's own horrific creation, the Scrimshander! Harrison is "sensitive" and tuned into some of these supernatural beings as a result of a toxic encounter with one as a toddler--an encounter that ended with his leg being bitten off, and his father killed. Now Harrison's mother has returned with her son...only, the creatures that populate the town besides the common humans have not forgotten them...
If you don't mind the YA viewpoint, this story is an original, captivating novel of creatures both old and new. Personally, I'm hoping that Daryl Gregory plans on writing more detailing the lives of those characters he first brought to us in WAACF.
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*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Read more