Return to Innsmouth: A Strange Aeons Adventure book 1, by Henry Hinder

Dec 22, 2023
Return to Innsmouth- A Strange Aeons Adventure book 1, by Henry Hinder HORROR BOOK REVIEW .png

Return to Innsmouth: A Strange Aeons Adventure book 1, by Henry Hinder

If you’re a fan of Lovecraftian horror and dark comedy, the novella “Return to Innsmouth: A Strange Aeons Adventure book 1” by Henry Hinder might be just what you’re looking for. In this review, Carmilla Voiez takes us through her thoughts on the book’s antiquated language, well-drawn characters, and magical symbolism, as well as its blend of horror and humor. Read on for a glimpse into the eldritch chaos of “Return to Innsmouth.”

Review by Carmilla Voiez

Return to Innsmouth advertises itself as a Lovecraft comedy, and that’s a fairly accurate description. For those of us used to a more modern style of writing, the antiquated language, syntax and purple prose can prove frustrating at first – although, once I got used to it, it became easier to endure, and occasionally enjoy. The language combined with setting and unholy monsters evokes very effectively the era and nightmares of the old xenophobe himself. The novella screams Lovecraftian, which makes the modern additions of Holiday Inns and McDonalds feel anachronistic in comparison. If anything, this is the heart of the story’s charm; it shows us the timeless nature of fear. 

“Rounding the corner, the large golden arches blazed so brightly in contrast to the rest of the dingy, run-down town that it almost appeared to be a protrusion from another, more heavenly dimension.”

“[I]t is the most foolish of endeavors to even attempt to convey a modicum of the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence and barren immensity, but again, I find myself pursuing that ineffable goal nonetheless.” 

Todd and Bill are well-drawn characters and make an interesting and frequently hilarious detective team – Bill the self-centred man of action, Todd the ingratiating “friendsistant” – their dynamic reminds me of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. They appear ludicrous and incompetent, but they get the job done – sort of.

Perhaps my favourite parts were the magical symbolisms infusing Todd’s dreams: 

“the Seventy Steps of Lighter Slumber […] the Cavern of Flame […] the cat-infested streets of Ulthar […] the distant whisperings of Kadath […] the phosphorescent fungi [in] the Enchanted Woods where Zoogs and their kin dwelled.”

At times, it’s very funny. In fact, there were moments when the humour reminded me of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, two writers whose work I love. And the main character’s conversational style of narrative is engaging when he isn’t channeling old HP.

“Deliveroo had recently parted ways with me for, on occasion, eating the customers’ food before delivery. In my defense, however, I was not paid nearly well enough to afford food for myself as well as rent.”

The horror is mild but there is a sense of dread and an uncanny atmosphere which pervades the pages. It’s not a book for children though, as some of the sexual references are fairly explicit and may offends some readers. 

On balance, I feel it is worth the of wading through the dense language to enjoy the eldritch chaos while chuckling at Hinder’s clever jokes and humorous wordplay. However, I would have loved it much more if the archaic turns of phrase had been dialed down a little.

“[E]lephantine beings of formless protoplasm that bubbled in viscous agglutinations” illustrates my point perfectly, I believe. 

Return to Innsmouth: A Strange Aeons Adventure book 1, by Henry Hinder

Return to Innsmouth- A Strange Aeons Adventure book 1, by Henry Hinder HORROR BOOK REVIEW .png

“Great fun. One wouldn’t normally think it possible to combine Lovecraft’s prose with goofball humor, but they’d be wrong.” Rick Gualtieri, bestselling author of The Tome of Bill and Bill of the Dead

“Imagine a Lovecraftian tale created by the Coen brothers, and you get a taste of Return to Innsmouth‘s wicked brilliance.” Luke Swanson, author of The Other Hamlet Brother and Spectators of War

Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s spine-tingling horror, hilarious comedies like What We Do in the Shadows, and Sherlock Holmes-style detective work? If so, then you won’t want to miss Return to Innsmouth – a witty, irreverent short novel that lovingly blends cosmic horror with a healthy dose of dark humor.

Join the unlikely duo of Bill and his ‘friendsistant’ Todd as they embark on their first-ever job together – investigating rumors of a sacrificial cult in the eerie coastal town of Innsmouth. With nods to Lovecraft’s classic tale, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and plenty of offbeat humor, this fast-paced story is a must-read for horror and comedy fans alike. So come along for the ride, and discover what happens when strange creatures collide with even stranger humans.

“I suppose it’s only fitting that strange ends come from strange beginnings, and so it was with how I first came into the acquaintance of the peculiar creature I now call my dear friend Bill…”Cover art by the endlessly talented Max Rugers.

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