The Burrowers Beneath (Titus Crow, Book 1) - Brian Lumley

Not only do I have a bunch of books in my owned TBR pile that I need to read, I am lucky enough that my fiance, Richard, buys different sorts of books to me. He is a hardcore sci-fi fan and our shelves are LADEN with hundreds of books I have not read, in a genre I probably wouldn't normally choose for myself. I really have no excuse to whinge that I have nothing to read. Recently, while looking for a new read, he handed me The Burrowers Beneath by Brian Lumley. Since I am a H.P. Lovecraft fan, he thought I might like this book as it is based on the Cthulhu Mythos. 

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Science-Fiction, Occult, Cthulhu Mythos.
Publisher: Grafton Books
Year: 1974
Rating: 3/5
For Millennia, men have strutted in puny pride over the fragile surface of the Earth, arrogantly proclaiming themselves masters of creation. But now their feeble investigations have disturbed the planet's original rulers far beneath the globe's crust. And mankind's placid dreams are about to be wrenched into shattering nightmare. 

This novel is the first book in the Titus Crow series.  Titus Crow and his friend, Henri-Laurent de Marigny, both have a deep interest in the occult. They have studied the ancient texts, like The Necronomicon (Which is actually a fictional grimoire, that appears in H.P. Lovecraft stories, for those interested) and believe that there is more to this world that meets the eye. 

Titus becomes aware, through studying strange seismological activity, that something within the earth is not quite right. He does some research and comes into contact with a man who recently had a unexplainable experience while surveying down a mine shaft. This man, not only found some weird tunnels that had been dug throughout the mine, but he also saw strange drawings on the walls, heard intelligible chanting and found these weird, cave-pearls. Of course he took the pearls with him when he left the mine. Putting himself in extreme danger. 

Titus Crow offers to take the pearls off his hands and he contacts his friend Henri for help. Soon the two friends find themselves on the run from an evil older than man, and face to face with the kind of being that nightmares are made out of. 

That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die. - H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of the Cthulhu.

I quite enjoyed this book. It was a short read, at only 200 pages and didn't take very long at all. In this story, we are introduced to the ancient ones. Dark gods who were banished to their metaphysical prisons throughout the earth. Lumley draws on Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, to create a new being in this novel, named Shudde M'ell. Shudde M'ell lives beneath the surface of the earth, burrowing and breeding with his fellow Cthonians. He was once imprisoned in G'harne, but was freed and is now about to wander the earth.

Like all Cthonians, Shudde M'ell can invade mens dreams, get them to do his bidding and more often than not, send them completely insane. Which is the most frightening aspect of the Cthonians power.. sure they are big, ugly, scary, smelly, indescribable creatures that are so horrifying man can not comprehend.. but the insanity they cause creeps me out the most. They are pure evil.

I read somewhere that Lumley is often criticised for giving a "human" aspect to the Cthonians. He gives them personalities of sorts, which Cthonians are supposed to be beyond having, they are gods and have no use for man-made concepts. Yet, I had no problem with that aspect of the story. I guess it depends how you approach his work. If you are a die-hard Lovecraftian then you might see an issue, I personally, just like a good read.

The prose in this book was a bit much at times, Lumley manages to squeeze a lot into such a short book. The dialogue is also a bit 'retro' but it doesn't detract from the story in any way. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading books that were created using the Cthulhu Mythos, a good horror story or something just a little bit different.
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