Rainbringer: Zora Neale Hurston against the Lovecraftian Mythos
by Edward M. Erdelac (May 4, 2021)
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Full disclosure at the start: three of the stories in this collection first appeared in anthologies I edited, but hopefully that fact only goes to show you how much I like this author and this character. I have worked with Mr. Erdelac for many years and have published many stories by the man, and I am known to be a tough sell when it comes to my books. Again, that should speak volumes on how good of an author I think Ed is.
As for the character of Zora Neale Hurston, she was born in the story “Gods of The Grim Nation” for my Dread Shadows in Paradise book. Since then it has been a joy to see her return to print again and again, to grow and evolve into who she is now. So yeah, I am not a completely unbiased reviewer for this book. I freely admit to how biased I am. But again, I hope that only convinces you of my love for these stories.
Now, as for the stories themselves, they are stories set in the Cthulhu Mythos. You know, the weird world of horror and wonder created by H.P. Lovecraft? However, what Mr. Erdelac does with his Lovecraftian fiction is what I love best: he takes what HPL did before, puts his own spin on it, and tells his tales very much in his own voice. You’re not going to find a typical Lovecraft pastiche here. Moreover, Ed often tells his stories with characters Lovecraft would have never used or would have downright shunned. I mean, let’s take Zora herself. She is a strong woman of color, and that’s three things Lovecraft loved to overlook. I am sure if you know anything about H.P. Lovecraft, then his vehement racism is right at the top of the list. That sad fact is undeniable and well-established by the man himself. However, Lovecraft also all but ignored women in his stories, certainly as far as protagonists go. But then there is the strong element, something else lacking in most HPL characters. Now I firmly believe that the malign alien forces of the Cthulhu Mythos are unbeatable, indestructible, and inevitable, but not every protagonist in a Lovecraftian tale needs to faint dead away at the mere thought of something unnamable. And while I do think a lot of the horror of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones comes from the fact that they are so powerful and humanity is so insignificant, we do need heroes from time to time to give us the little victories that allow mankind to move on, especially when it comes to period pieces set in the classic Lovecraft era. I mean, how did we get from then to now without those little but oh so important victories?
So that’s what you get here: eight well-written tales of Lovecraftian horror about a badass woman of color being a much needed heroine able to face the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos and persevere. Does she always save the day? No, but sometimes she does. Does she always stop the Mythos? No, not really, but she survives it and in this genre, that’s a victory in and of itself. She is a breath of fresh air in this type of literature that all too often can get a little stale at times. And the really strange and startling fact is that this Zora is based off of a real person. No, really.
Mr. Erdelac goes over this in his enlightening intro, and I love the fact that this woman in some way or form did exist in the same world that I do. I mean, who’s to say that the real woman wasn’t fighting the forces of cosmic dread when she wasn’t busy being an anthropologist, folklorist, author, playwright, teacher, student and practitioner of hoodoo, and so many more things?
So if this sounds like it will be your kind of thing, and it should be, then there is no better place to get this goodness than here. These stories are great, the Lovecraftian elements in them are wonderful, and the main character is all kind of fascinating and amazing. Support authors doing new things with old lore and get this book. Consider this book highly recommended, and I hope Edward continues his journey with Zora Neale Hurston.
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