This review is by Peter Rawlik, author of The Peaslee Papers, Reanimators, and more.
In my collection Strange Company and Others, I included two types of Cthulhu Mythos stories. The first type were stories that I felt could easily integrate into the existing greater Lovecraftian mythos. The other type were tales that leveraged the artificial mythology but couldn’t possibly be integrated into the Cthulhu Mythos. These included fictions that mingled the mythos with steam punk, fairy tales, empires of the undead, alien invasions, and even cyberpunk. JG Faherty’s novel Sins of the Father falls firmly into the category of alternate mythos imagining an Innsmouth in which the takeover of the village by the Marsh’s and their aquatic allies fails. Still, even without a malign takeover, the village doesn’t exactly thrive, it grows but by the beginning of the Twentieth Century it is little more than a dark and dangerous slum lurking in the shadow of Arkham.
Our protagonist is Henry Gilman, a former medical student at Miskatonic University, now working for the town collecting dead bodies. Gilman had expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician, but when his mother had been diagnosed with a terminal condition, his father went full Frankenstein in an attempt to save her life. Committed to Arkham Sanitarium, the elder Gilman is lost to fire leaving Henry to bear the brunt of the shame and suspicion that swirls around him.
While in the course of his duty, hauling yet another victim of the local version of Jack the Ripper, Henry acquires a book written in a strange language and is then attacked by what appears to be some sort of aquatic monster.
Henry seeks to recover in the company of his friends, Scott and Flora Marsh, and Ben and Callie Olmstead, in a local bar but is again attacked. This attack ends with the death of Scott and the elevation of the rivalry between Henry and Ben over Flora into an open conflict. Thus, Henry finds himself estranged from his friends, being hunted by aquatic monsters, and suspected of somehow being involved in the serial murders plaguing Innsmouth. His quest to solve the mystery of what is happening in Innsmouth and clear his name will lead him back to Miskatonic University and into the tunnels beneath Innsmouth. In the process, he learns the truth about his father’s death and to what lengths he will go to save the woman he loves.
Faherty’s writing is easy reading, and his handling of Lovecraftian themes is done with ease even when he subverts them for his own purposes. Overall, Sins of the Father is an excellent exploration of a Lovecraftian world slightly skewed from the one we are accustomed to, but just as terrifying. I’m told there are more stories set in this world, and I’m looking forward to reading them.