The Miskatonic Manuscript
By Oliver Del Signore
This is going to be one of the shortest book reviews I’ve ever written. I’m going to give you only the barest of plot outlines because, when you read the book, as I hope you will, I want you to be as continuously surprised (and hopefully delighted) as I was. I want you to encounter ideas that might make you rethink the way we live, love, govern, and even worship in modern America. However, if you really must know everything about the story so you won’t be surprised, there are many other reviews online you can google and read, but I hope you won’t. And apologies for "censoring" the cover, but this is a family website.
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Question 1: What if Rhode Island horror writer H.P. Lovecraft didn’t just imagine the "resonator" in his 1920 short story "From Beyond"? What if Henry Annesley actually built the machine that allowed him to see into the Sixth Dimension — and allowed creatures from The Other Side to invade us here?
Question 2: "What if they fought a war on drugs…and someone fought back?"
Both of those questions are asked on the inside flap of the beautiful (and slightly racy) dust jacket of The Miskatonic Manuscript, Vin Suprynowicz’s second novel, after The Testament of James, in his series about the adventures of rare book sellers Matthew Hunter and Chantal Stevens.
As you can tell from the jacket, inside you’re going to encounter some strange places, some dinosaurs, and a naked woman or two, but don’t let any of that put you off the story. It’s not just science fiction and not especially racy. It is well-written, engaging, and each time you think you know where it’s going, it surprises you.
The tale begins with Windsor Annesley, leader of the Church of Cthulhu, on trial. He and his church use mind-enhancing plants and chemicals as sacraments, sacraments those in power misclassify as narcotics as part of their War on Drugs. But unlike most accused "drug dealers" facing the modern equivalent of a "hanging judge," Windsor doesn’t seem particularly worried. On the contrary, he’s downright defiant as he makes his final statement before sentencing, a statement that begins to answer Question 2.
After the trial, on the steps outside the courthouse, Annesley’s younger brother, Worthy, is introduced to Matthew Hunter. He wants him to locate an old, handwritten notebook that may no longer exist, setting in motion events that will ultimately answer Question 1.
As with the characters in The Testament of James, those you will meet in The Miskatonic Manuscript are well-drawn. Many are folks you’d love to have as friends. As with all of Vin’s writing, his deep belief in libertarian principles is clearly conveyed throughout the story, but don’t let that mislead you into thinking this is some kind of political polemic. When you’ve finished the book, you’ll know through his characters how he feels about various issues, especially the aforementioned War on Drugs, but you’ll also have experienced an imagination that takes you on a trip you might well wish you could take for yourself.
As an additional treat, when you’ve finished the story, you’ll find for your reading pleasure, H.P. Lovecraft’s "From Beyond," along with several pages of notes with links to additional reading, and a bibliography containing even more for you to read.
Whatever your political, social, philosophical, or religious beliefs, The Miskatonic Manuscript will both entertain and give you much to think about, and perhaps talk about with family and friends.
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