The Aeschylus

The Aeschylus

David Barclay

402 pages

Accessed as an ebook

$0.99 on Amazon at the time of review

I start a lot of books for review that I eventually give up on. It’s not uncommon. It’s generally a lot of urban fantasies and the like; there are a lot of tropes that just turn me off of a book almost instantly.

Every so often though I get my hands on a book that I thought I would hate and then find myself really enjoying. I really liked this one. Not quite horror but not quite scifi, definitely Lovecraft twinged but self deferential if not meta, with enough darkness to keep this from being just another ‘thing from outer space’ indie scifi novel but enough scifi to keep it from being another creature feature novel.

I normally don’t like books that dump the reader into the middle of the action (yes, this novel does that) with little or no true back story to the events. I’m okay with the plot not being wrapped up into a neat package at the end of the story, but I like to know what I’m headed into. Even if it’s just a Romero style ‘and there was a zombie in the graveyard’ I want to know what has been going on to get a grasp of the world. Aeschylus doesn’t really do that. There  is something floating off the South American coast. We don’t know what it is. We know that it’s been there for awhile. We know that it’s not from here.

Beyond that, we’ve been trying to figure out what these things are, what they want, and why they are going about what they’re doing. The Valley Oil Corporation is notified that something is wrong with one of their platforms-none of the crew has been in contact for long enough that the corporation decides to send a team to investigate. Kate McCready, daughter of the late Vice President of the United States finds herself the largest stockholder of the company-and on her way to see what’s going on at the platform.

What is going at the platform is a mystery stretching back to at least Nazi Germany and potentially much, much longer. The novel avoids a lot of the normal indie horror/scifi tropes-it’s hard to be a Final Girl when you’re the only female in the modern arch, the male lead isn’t all that perfect, the monster is not a mindless killing machine even if we don’t really understand what’s going on or why. The only issue I have with the book is a stylistic issue that’s a personal pet peeve- the ending hints at a sequel and I really don’t like novels that set up series straight out of the gate. If the plot can handle a series, so be it, but don’t force a series right from the beginning.

Warnings: language, violence, mild sexual content, light to moderate discussion of racial and Fascist politics (plot relevant).

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