Connect with us
'Something in the Water' by Douglas Wynne is a wonderful sampling of Lovecraftian horror

31 Days of Halloween

‘Something in the Water’ by Douglas Wynne is a wonderful sampling of Lovecraftian horror

A wonderfully eclectic sampling of Lovecraftian horror that anyone can enjoy.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.


It’s no secret to anyone who reads my articles regularly (HI MOM!) that I’m a huge fan of Douglas Wynne. The New England author has a brilliant knack for making Lovecraftian horror feel physically present and intense without an overreliance on adjectives. He’s also a master at creating characters you can’t help but become attached to — even when they aren’t very good people.

Earlier this year, Wynne released Something in the Water and Other Stories, a collection of short Lovecraftian horror tales. Many of them stand on their own, but others tie into his military-themed SPECTRA Files series and his brilliant techno-thriller novel His Own Devices.

Since discovering Wynne’s work via the first SPECTRA Files novel (Red Equinox, which is still one of my all-time favorites), I’ve had the good fortune to also become friends with him. I’ve even gotten to beta read and edit some of his stories. In the spirit of full disclosure, a few of those tales appear in Something in the Water. That said, I have no qualms about being critical of his work when needed — especially after he gave me a cameo in his 2017 novel Cthulhu Blues (another favorite of mine) only to gruesomely kill me off.

Thankfully, Something in the Water turned out to be a wonderfully entertaining sample of what makes Douglas Wynne one of the best horror writers working today.

'Something in the Water' by Douglas Wynne is a wonderful sampling of Lovecraftian horror

What Works

Whether you prefer pensive and creeping terror or muscular action, Something in the Water has you covered. It’s also not an either/or proposition, though. One area that Wynne excels at is giving you a story (and its subsequent scares) that works on both levels for all types of readers. No matter what your tastes are, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever find yourself hoping to finish one story so you can get to the next one.

As an example, “Rattle” spends most of its time slithering inside your head and turning your blood cold. Along the way, some intense sequences act as a reprieve to the creeping dread — a horrific and terrifying reprieve, but a reprieve nonetheless. On the flip side of that, “Tracking the Black Book” (my favorite of the bunch) delivers in-your-face scares via a physical threat that will make you never want to go down into your basement again. The meat of the story is bookended by cosmic dread, which Wynne molds into an uncomfortably relatable feeling.

A major part of what makes Wynne’s stories work is the characters. Wynne gets you inside their hearts and minds to such a degree that their horrific journeys become yours, as well. Luckily, you get to sit back and enjoy the story while the person driving the narrative deals with its horrific fallout.

'Something in the Water' by Douglas Wynne is a wonderful sampling of Lovecraftian horror

Along the way, we’re treated to some great artwork by M. Wayne Miller, who also did the book’s cover. Sometimes it didn’t match what was in my head; other times it was even more unnerving. In both cases, Miller’s work was always gorgeous.

For fans of Wynne, Something in the Water will reward you with long-awaited continuations to some of his best stories. “The Voyagers” gives us a pre-Red Equinox look at Agent Brooks while “Time out of Mind” shows what he and Becca have been up to since Cthulu Blues. “Contact” tells a story from Sgt. Matt Ritter’s perspective that plays a critical role in His Own Devices. For folks who are even more old school fans of the author than me, a character from The Devil of Echo Lake appears in The Last Chord.

Unfortunately, these treats for Wynne’s readers also end up being the book’s biggest flaw.

What Doesn’t Work

You can still enjoy “The Voyagers”, “Time out of Mind”, and “Contact” without having read the books before it — just not nearly as much as you should.

If you’re new to Wynne’s writing, then you’ll likely notice a lack of his usual care and detail in developing his characters. That’s likely due to the ones in these stories already having substantial published histories. While it’s great for those of us who already know them, it might be a small letdown for new readers — especially considering how good the rest of the stories are.

The Verdict

A lot of people stay away from Lovecraftian horror due to how dense and introspective it can be. I can try to convince you how good Douglas Wynne is at making it accessible without dumbing it down, but there’s still an investment of time required on your part. If that means buying a book and committing several hours to it, some will understandably pass and move on to authors or genres they’re already sure about.

With Something in the Water, however, you have a chance to enjoy a wonderfully eclectic mix of stories that will scare you both in the moment and when they haunt your dreams.

If you’re a fan of the SPECTRA Files books or the criminally underrated His Own Devices, you get to enjoy the long-awaited continuation and expansion of those worlds. More importantly, we get to spend a little more time with the characters we’ve grown so fond of over the years.

No matter which group you’re part of, reading Something in the Water is a great way to spend an autumn evening this Halloween season. If you also happen to live near a large body of water, make sure to ignore any beautiful eldritch singing you hear floating on the wind.

Buy ‘Something in the Water and Other Stories’ here.

Read our interview with Douglas Wynne about ‘His Own Devices’ here.

'Something in the Water' by Douglas Wynne is a wonderful sampling of Lovecraftian horror
‘Something in the Water’ by Douglas Wynne is a wonderful sampling of Lovecraftian horror
'Something in the Water and Other Stories' by Douglas Wynne
A wonderfully eclectic sampling of Lovecraftian horror that anyone can enjoy.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Whether you prefer creeping dread or muscular action, all the stories in 'Something in the Water' have something to enjoy.
Despite the short story format, Wynne still shines and bringing wholly unique characters to life.
For fans of Wynne's novels (especially the 'SPECTRA Files' books), we get some long-awaited continuation and background on those stories.
Unfortunately, the sequel tales might leave new readers feeling a little left out -- especially compared to how good the rest of the stories are.
9
Great
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

Full April 2023 DC Comics solicitations: New Green Arrow and Superboy coming soon Full April 2023 DC Comics solicitations: New Green Arrow and Superboy coming soon

Full April 2023 DC Comics solicitations: New Green Arrow and Superboy coming soon

Comic Books

'Immortal X-Men' #10 sets up 'Sins of Sinister' in a surprising way 'Immortal X-Men' #10 sets up 'Sins of Sinister' in a surprising way

‘Immortal X-Men’ #10 sets up ‘Sins of Sinister’ in a surprising way

Comic Books

Captain Marvel-led 'Avengers' #1 launching May 17th Captain Marvel-led 'Avengers' #1 launching May 17th

Captain Marvel-led ‘Avengers’ #1 launching May 17th

Comic Books

Carnage and Spidey collide in 'Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis' May 2023 Carnage and Spidey collide in 'Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis' May 2023

Carnage and Spidey collide in ‘Spider-Man 2099: Dark Genesis’ May 2023

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup