"The Broken Hours: A Novel of H. P. Lovecraft " Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Published by Talos Press
Written by Jacqueline Baker
2016, 320 pages, Fiction
Released on April 26th, 2016
I wanted to love the hell out of The Broken Hours: A Novel of H. P. Lovecraft; Jacqueline Baker has this almost hypnotizing way of setting up a scene that immediately sucks you into the story. You can see the houses and streets that she describes, at one point when she was describing the cold weather in a scene, I almost felt a chill.
However, narration only goes so far, and what's left is a story that starts strongly but doesn't end in a satisfactory manner or even at all. Disclaimer: I've never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft, so I might be missing some subtle nuances that Lovecraft fans may appreciate.
Our book's protagonist, Arthor Crandle, is a former business man after the Great Depression is forced to take on a temporary housekeeping/writing job for an eccentric author. That author turns out to be none other than H.P. Lovecraft, and Crandle finds himself embroiled in a mystery from Lovecraft's childhood. This mystery is weak since it involves a character dead long before this novel starts. There's this little eerie ghost girl who wanders in and out of the plot, and her presence just ends with no real explanation.
There are characters like Arthor's neighbors, Baxter and James, who seem to be geared up for a bigger role in the story, but then disappear instantly. There's a big mystery surrounding Helen, who also lives in an apartment in Lovecraft's house. She too vanishes suddenly, leaving her friend concerned that she might have been murdered; a big chunk of the plot concerns this, and then the mystery is solved with two quick sentences. There's a subplot about Arthor's wife who was supposed to visit but never shows up, basically is missing, but there's no resolution to it. What's the point of having these characters if they have no real impact on the main events?
There are some good aspects to Broken Hours, like the burgeoning relationship between our protagonist and Helen's worried friend, Flossie. Flossie is an intriguing and fun character to read, and I wish we could have read more about her than the weak mysteries that went nowhere. There's a great scene where a giant tentacle is found on the beach, and I would have loved to see that evolve more.
When it comes to books, I'm like any typical woman, it better end with me satisfied or else. There are so many elements of the tale that either end weakly or have no real explanation.
My dislike of this story doesn't temper my enjoyment of Baker's writing, and I look forward to reading future works by her as long there's a satisfactory ending the next time around.