Kthulhu Reich – Asamatsu Ken
Kurodahan Press – 2019
This is a book of short stories by Asamatsu Ken, a Japanese horror author who specialises in Lovecraftian horror. I had intended for Robert Bloch or Robert E. Howard to be the next Cthulhu Mythos I read, but saw this and could not resist the promise of a Cthulhu Nazi crossover. Although the book was published in 2019, I believe all of the stories were written in the late 1990s.
The first story in here is a fairly straightforward reincarnation tale. I wasn’t super impressed. It wasn’t very Lovecrafty. The second story was about some some Nazis looking for the Mask of Yoth Tlaggon. This had an evil wizard and some spirits. It was better than the first story. I really liked how the author uses footnotes to include information on real historical events, occult theories and his own fictional characters. I enjoy the blatant disregard for the boundary between fact and fiction. The next story was basically At The Mountains of Madness with Nazis. It was pretty good.
Things got really interesting for ‘April 20th, 1889’, the 4th tale in the collection. It’s about Jack the Ripper teaming up with Nyarlathotep to summon the unborn Hitler. This is an utterly ridiculous combination, but it works. The next two stories are about Nazis getting attacked by Dracula and Dagon. I loved them. The final story, ‘Dies Irae’, is a mixture of historical fiction and the weird crustacean creatures from the The Whisperer in the Darkness.
I really enjoyed this collection.
The first story is not awful, but I reckon it’s the weakest. As I was reading it, I started thinking about why I enjoy Lovecraftian fiction. I like the pessimism in Howard’s writing, but I also enjoy his style. I know some people hate how long winded and archaic his writing is, but I don’t. This style is altogether absent in Kthulhu Reich, a translation of a modern mythos writer, and I needed the author to make up for this somehow. Fortunately, these ludicrous stories that weave in different historical figures, aspects of occultism and Lovecraftian entities were quite sufficient. You have to be careful with modern Cthulhu Mythos fiction. I know there’s lots of kitschy, cutesey Cthulhu stories out there right now. Fuck that. Ken’s stories are bonkers, but there’s a darkness behind them that keeps things legit. I would be happy to read more of Asamatsu Ken’s books in the future.
Sorry for the recent lack of posts. I have a few big articles I’m working on, and I’d rather work on those than pump out quick reviews of shit books nobody cares about.