A university gets ensnared in a paranormal battle over a dangerous book in this debut horror novel.
Miskatonic University’s new president wants to shut down the college’s ancient and controversial Armitage Memorial Library Antiquities Section. Special Collections Curator Mercy O’Connor would rather be chugging lime-a-ritas than courting her family’s magic lineage that the library protects. Meanwhile, the warlord Obed Whateley disguises himself as Leland Janus and appeals to university president Armand Deale’s desire to shut down the Antiquities Section. Janus promises a handsome reward if Deale can get the Necronomicon, a powerful volume in the library. He’ll need the book by Hallow’s Mass, the legendary sacred holiday for Janus and his people. Deale enlists the intellectual prowess of Audrey Klumm-Weebner, and the help of a Native American and a social media buff to get the volume. The library chairman falls strangely ill, and with him gone, Deale and company create a smear campaign, claiming the Necronomicon belongs to its rightful people, the oppressed Dunwich. Mercy finds herself suddenly in charge of the library, and despite her best efforts to protect it, the Necronomicon falls into the wrong hands. By the time Deale and his companions realize who Janus really is, it might be too late to save the university town, and Mercy will have to step into her family’s heritage to find her purpose. Wit and humor color the novel, which includes hashtags as well as a heavy-handed satire of political correctness. The worldbuilding is thorough, explained by periodic articles, excerpts, and interviews that accompany the chapters. More nuance would have enhanced some of the characters, such as African Joe, who is as much the butt of jokes as he is the sidekick Mercy needs. Momentum builds rapidly as the plot to get the Necronomicon unfolds, but then it sags in the thick of a melee, including more characters than can be kept track of. Despite this, the well-crafted novel comes to a satisfying conclusion, with Mercy more developed than when readers first encounter her.
An imaginative back story and a rollicking plot make this an entertaining addition to the genre of occult fiction.