By Patrick R. McDonough
This book made me feel like a child, and I mean that exclusively in every complimentary way imaginable. Let’s start with the idea of the book itself. It’s about a young Howard Phillips Lovecraft as a child. It’s before he was a writer. And like the author’s (Lex H Jones) introduction before the first chapter, Old Readers think they know the truth of Lovecraft. About Cthulhu. About the relationship he had with his mother and what really happened with Lovecraft’s father. You see, New Readers typically can accept new truths.
Here’s the thing, though. Cthulhu, or Oolu, as he’s called in The Old One And The Sea, isn’t this big terrifying alien set to kill us all. Howie, as his mother affectionately calls him, is a boy with practically no friends. With the exception of Mr. Derleth (Sarah Lovecraft’s friend), Howie doesn’t seem to have much social interaction. But that’s ok because Mr. Derleth is an interesting person. Like Howie’s father, he fought overseas. He was in The Great War. But unlike his father, Mr. Derleth returned home.
Howie’s mother encourages him to never stop asking questions, to be the best he can be, and reach for the stars. But what happens when old stars appear and unlock the door to weirdness? With the appearance of an emerged black reef and strange coins to call upon the mighty Oolu, Howie does just that, accidentally.
Oolu and Howie don’t communicate in conventional ways, yet they understand each other. They were meant to be best friends. Oolu teaches Howie so many wonderful things. About the cosmic wonders, the history of humans, and Oolu’s place in our…er, his world.
This book has a lot to offer, from the incredible artwork by Liam “Pais” Hill, to the beautiful descriptors. Lex reimagined Lovecraft and his most notorious character in such a fantastic way.
The first time I heard about this story, I was apprehensive with a hint of optimism. But now, if Lex told me he would come out with future stories about Lovecraft or *insert author name* then I would, without a doubt, be excited. His story put a smile on my face while reading it and still…when I think about it, my take away is that he truly offered the world a gift. Books like this don’t come around, in this format, really ever.
But it’s kind of more than that. This book doesn’t sugar coat the world. And children’s books shouldn’t. What kind of lesson would that be? Let’s face it, this is horror. So like any good horror story, really any good story, it teaches you a lesson. It also does something to your emotions towards Cthulhu that I never ever (ever, ever, ever) imagined I’d feel for the giant creature. Sympathy. Congrats, Lex, you’ve got me sobbing mentally like a little boy over a fictional alien that, by all accounts, has been a titanic-sized threat towards our entire race for the last ninety-three years.
This was the first book I’ve read by Lex, and it certainly won’t be the last. It is without a doubt one of my favorites. Ever. Yes, it is targeted for children, but at the same time, if you don’t have kids, or don’t feel like reading them this and holding it as a secret (how could you do such a thing, you monsters!), then go for it.
Take a lesson from Howie and Oolu and communicate with each other. Let the adventure of one of the greatest authors unfold before your eyes. If you read this to your kids (really any kids), it will surely entice them to explore the more complex stories of Lovecraft, and they’ll go in knowing that Oolu isn’t such a bad guy after all. Which will lead to more questions about all the other things in Lovecraft’s and our universe. If you take away one thing from this book and or review, let it be this: the moment you stop asking questions, is the moment you stop learning
I received The Old One And The Sea from Lex H Jones for review consideration.