Book Review: Night Voices, Night Journeys (Lairs of the Hidden Gods, Vol One)

When I think of Japanese monsters, I tend to envision rubber-suited Kaiju fare, or Anime, with its big-eyed schoolgirls with even bigger guns blazing away at tentacled things with lots of eyes and mouths. And fun as they elements may be, they hardly suggest the lurking, brooding terrors of H. P. Lovecraft!

But as Robert M. Price’s Introduction to this book posits, who but the Japanese could truly understand unsuspected horror pouncing down from the skies in the more-than-half-a-century wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

And it shows in these 7 stories – 6 stories, really, and a short novel – as the horror is a palpable force lurking behind it all, in these truly incomparable well-written tales. These stories are very original, very well-realized, and damn scary!

Editor Asamatsu Ken’s “The Plague of St. James Infirmary leads off in fine short pulp novel fashion, utilizing elements from the Mythos works of Henry Kuttner and Brian Lumley, especially, and throwing in Eliot Ness and Al Capone to boot!

Yamada Masaki’s “The Import of Tremors” is another favorite, as is Murato Motai’s “Sacrifice” – both tales embodying the message: “Watch what you eat!” And the other stories were all good too, ranging from a depiction of Derlethian Great Old Ones’ rivalries to a surrealistic sex-tinged odyssey to a graphic (read: cringe-inducing) waking nightmare, and even a touching love story! But make no mistake: Lovecraft’s influence is clearly felt throughout it all.

And it doesn’t end there with the fiction either. We also get Bibliographies of the Cthulhu Mythos scene in Japan and a Manga primer to start us on our way to exploring this most fascinating mileu – more of which future volumes of LAIRS OF THE HIDDEN GODS will continue to bring us. This is one beautiful book, and all involved can truly be proud (and I’d really be lax in my reviewer duties if I didn’t mention the stunning pastels-and-tentacles cover by Yamada Akihiro)! Highly recommended!

More Info

NIGHT VOICES, NIGHT JOURNEYS (LAIRS OF THE HIDDEN GODS, Volume One) – Edited by Asamatsu Ken and Introduced by Robert M. Price (Kurodahan Press: Japan, 2005 (Translation of a 2002 edition called HISHINKAI, produced by Tokyo Sogensha). This 2005 English translation volume reviewed here can be ordered from Amazon.Com.

This review was submitted by James Ambuehl.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2005 at 11:17 am and is filed under Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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