SHERLOCK HOLMES VS CTHULHU: THE ADVENTURE OF THE NEURAL PSYCHOSES By Lois H. Gresh
Titan Books, pb, £7.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
The second book in Gresh’s excellent Conan Doyle/Lovecraft mashup sees Holmes and Watson continue to try to fight the arcane forces of darkness with science and logic. The Old Ones’ incursion into London has begun to affect the populace, causing the titular “neural psychoses” in many (including Dr Watson) as well as bizarre deformities in some. Strange and deadly creatures have infested the Thames, and almost kill Holmes and Watson at the start of the book.
The head of the Whitechapel Lunatic Asylum has introduced a new treatment for his patients – Eshockers. Outside of the clinical uses, Professor Moriarty has turned the electrotherapy treatment into a money-making scheme, addicting the poor and desperate in his Eshocker dens.
Meanwhile, in Dorset, the Dagonite cult grows in power, but Professor Moriarty has heard of their power and wants to take it for his own. As Watson sends his wife and son away from London for safety, he fears for his sanity and worries that he may never see them again. Despite their triumph at the end of the first book, those worshipping the Old Ones and Cthulhu become yet more dangerous and powerful.
Gresh depicts Victorian London skilfully, evoking the helplessness of the poor and the addicted desperately trying to stay alive, while the London they thought they knew descends into madness. I’m looking forward to book three to find out if Holmes and Watson will triumph over the forces of evil, or if London and the rest of the world will be dragged into a Lovecraftian hell.