Book Review: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

meddling_kidsI was pleasantly surprised when I was contacted by Michael Goldsmith of DoubleDay Books requesting a book review of a new Lovecraftian fiction book by author, Edgar Cantero. Oh, I’ve written a few comic book reviews in the past and a book review for International Justice Mission, but that was the extent of my reviewing creds, and, as I said, it was several years ago.  In the end I decided that, hey, why not? I love to read, and I count Lovecraft as one of my biggest writing influences. So much so that I co-wrote the young Howard Lovecraft Trilogy with my good buddy, Bruce Brown, and I have an original Lovecraftian mini-series in the works with brilliant artist, Dave Youkovich.  Not to mention a few Lovecraftian short stories, an adaptation of Lovecraft’s HE for SelfMadeHero, and several unsuccessful pitches I’ve written over the years.

So it was decided.

In the years since Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s life, Lovecraftian fiction has become a popular horror subgenre which stresses cosmic, unknowable terrors and mankind’s hopelessness and helplessness to combat–or even fully comprehend–them. At the core, it is the fear of the unknown that drives the stories in this subgenre, and that is something we can all relate to, whether we are fans of science-fiction, or horror, or neither. It is from this commonality that brilliant screenwriter, Rod Serling (also a big influence on my work), penned some of his most poignant and terrifying episodes of The Twilight Zone. And Serling is only one in a long line of authors who have played upon this instantly relatable theme.

But I digress.

Imagine, if you will, the Scooby-Doo Gang in a Lovecraftian universe. As young people, the gang solved mysteries and unmasked bad guys–they were the heroes–but, during the course of their final caper they inadvertently brushed paths with unspeakable cosmic horror. It is an oppressive evil that haunts their dreams, poisons their lives, and they ultimately became scared, irreparably (?) damaged adults. Ultimately, these fractured adults decide to team up one last time and face the horror head on. This is Meddling Kids.

Does this sound similar to the synopsis of Stephen King‘s It to you? Indeed. Cantero isn’t breaking any new ground here, but what he does is tell an entertaining story that will have you furiously turning pages until you reach the bitter end. And he does so with great panache and skill. Cantero is obviously a master wordsmith who tips his hand every now and then, but never comes off as an exhibitionist. Snappy dialogue, vivid descriptions, quirky characters, and the building sense of dread will keep you enthralled and leave you wanting more. And for fans of Lovecraft’s work, you will find just enough that is familiar, but not so much that it feels overstated or cliché. As I said, this Cantero fellow knows what he is doing.

If this sounds like a fun story to you, you may be a Lovecraft fan. Or, maybe not. I believe that any reader who is merely looking for an entertaining, creepy summer read will find it quite enjoyable as well. Who knows…it may even compel some readers to check out H.P. Lovecraft’s work, and that would be awesome, indeed.

-Dwight

 

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A Writer’s Wife


Contrary to what you might think from the image above, no, Dwight is not doing an adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” That woman would be me on any given day–and the birds are all the many thoughts thrown at me from Dwight when he is in the writing zone.

Being the wife of a writer is not easy, but it has many rewards. Any artistic lifestyle is hard as paying work is usually feast or famine, but I think being the other half of a writing team is wonderful. We are both voracious readers, and I feel a writer should read to be inspired–so our conversations are wonderful dialogs of mutually-admired books. He opens new worlds to me by recommending books and vice versa.

One of the most stressful times I can remember since we have been married was the month that we were a contestant in the Zuda Comics webcomic contest. Our offering, Sidewise, was number one from the get go–but we had to keep it number one throughout an entire month. Having to get everyone we know onboard took a lot of time, effort, telephone calls, and late night email reminders. Hearing that we won the contest took a huge weight off our shoulders. I think I finally exhaled that day; I was so wound up by the whole ordeal.

I especially love it when Dwight first gets a new project. After the seemingly interminable amount of time having to wait to talk about it (contracts must be signed first!) he is all bright-eyed and feverish. Then comes the deluge of thoughts and ideas–usually when I am talking about something completely unrelated to the current project! I could literally be in the middle of sentence such as, “I think we might need more milk,” when Dwight comes back at me with, “What do you think if I get rid of the tower in that last scene?” My perplexed look goes unnoticed as he is already on to another idea for the next chapter.

It takes a lot of focus to keep up with him!

Me furiously attempting to write notes as Dwight spouts it out!

We just got wind of a new project which, of course, I wish I could talk about… but can’t. The feverish look is in his eye and the printer is burning the midnight oil. It is all a part of the process and I would not have my life any other way. Besides, being able to work at home, he gets to drag the boys around to their various appointments. And I know that I am being biased, but I truly believe that he is one of the best writers around today. His work will be remembered long after he is gone. Not that he is going away anytime soon, God willing!

I hope all of you have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend. Summer is almost here, so it is time to get your Summer reading lists together.

So… what will you be reading?

Cheers,
Rebecca