As always I want to start by saying that I was given an ARC of this to review. My review is honest and left voluntarily and all thoughts are my own. Thank you to Aconyte Books and Netgalley for giving me access to this.
I should start this review by stating two facts. First I adore David Annandale’s Marvel Untold Doom books so I was more than a little excited when I saw he had penned an Arkham Horror novel. Second I adore the Arkham Horror game and anything Lovecraft inspired (despite Lovecraft’s failings himself). So I was almost certain I would adore this book. Thankfully I was not wrong.
The novel starts with Professor Miranda Ventham having bad dreams, not a surprise in Arkham, but could they be more than just horrifying nightmares. Soon finding herself seriously ill with Tuberculosis Miranda books herself into the new sanatorium in Arkham, the Stroud Institute. It should be the perfect place to recover from her illness but things seldom go right in Arkham. Soon her nightmares worsen and it is only thanks to the help of Miranda’s friend, Agatha Crane, a parapsychologist, that they have any hope of uncovering the horrifying truth. Not all is as it seems and to find the truth both Miranda and Agatha will have to follow the twists and turns presented to them to find the truth at the centre.
Obviously this book is set in the world of Arkham Horror so of course it has some brilliant horrifying and terrifying moments (I’ll come back to those later) but one thing Annandale did that I personally adored, but can see why some might not, was juxtapose the growing dread and doubts with the, what may be considered, mundane world of the sanitorium. We see the day to day life of what it was actually like on a TB ward, perhaps with some embellishment, in fact Annandale confirms that he was inspired by a memoir of someone who was on a ward themselves. I personally adored this since it grounded the novel in reality and gave it a feeling of something that COULD have happened, even with the added elements of horror. The sections that focus on life on the ward for Miranda I found created a perfect breeding ground for Miranda’s doubts and fears. Hours spent in bed just reading or waiting for check-ups, fellow patients whom could either be friends or enemies (or at least make the stay unpleasant) and nurses who seem to impose rules with an iron fist. For me it all made the story that much more tense as we start to almost wonder with Miranda if something is happening or it is all in her mind because of the conditions of the ward.
On the other side to this we have Agatha’s side of the story. Seeing her do field work that Miranda cannot due to her illness. As a quick aside I want to add that Wilbur Crane is probably one of my favourite side characters and a brilliant husband figure, I absolutely adored him and his devotion to Agatha as well as his rather brilliant acceptance of life in Arkham, everybody needs a Wilbur! But back to Agatha, while Miranda is suffering nightmares and twisting hallways of the institute Agatha has her own horrors to deal with. Now as always I do not like spoiling the novel but there is a bit that really did terrify me. Partly because of the superb suspense and writing of Annadale and partly because of the location this scene took place at. It was superb even if it did make me uncomfortable.
Again, not wishing to spoil the novel too much, I adored the tie in to Miranda’s lectures and specialism, Romanticism (a favourite of mine too), to the plot. I am sure it was intentional but it perfectly made The Coils of the Labyrinth come full circle with everything seemingly making a connection one way or another.
All in all this is another fantastic entry to the Aconyte Books Arkham Horror novels. I honestly adored every bit of it. They’ve done it again, but at this point I’m not even surprised!
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