Where’s My Shoggoth? by Ian Thomas and Adam Bolton
Here’s a book published by Archaia Entertainment, publishers of excellent comics like Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men, Cow Boy, Rust, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, and plenty of others. But I this isn’t really a comic book. I’m going to call it a children’s book. And really, I almost passed this one by entirely, until I noticed one little thing on the back cover that hooked itself into my intrigue gland:
It’s classified as horror. And it’s rated “E” for everyone.
Can you have a kid-friendly all-ages horror book?
Let’s find out.
There’s very little plot here, not that you need a lot. A young boy goes out one night to play with his pet shoggoth, only to discover that it’s broken out of its pen and gotten lost. He sets out to look for it, accompanied by a cute black kitten, and encounters a host of monsters and deities from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos — but none of them are my shoggoth! Where is my shoggoth?!
The story is told in poetic verse — really, a bit of child-like doggerel — and illustrated in gorgeous, detailed artwork that’s simultaneously adorable, creepy, and hilarious. I hope I can be forgiven for posting the rhymes from the page featuring the monstrous aquatic Deep Ones as an example:
What’s this? Is this my shoggoth?
It has great googly eyes.
Its toes have webs between them,
and it’s heaving heavy sighs.
It says it loves my sister,
and would like to ask her out.
So it can’t have met my sister…
all my sister does is shout!
I’m not going to try to reprint any of the artwork here. There’s so much detail on every page, I can’t imagine it scanning very well.
Verdict: Thumbs up. I loved this book so much, and I’m so glad I got it. If you’re a grownup who enjoys Lovecraftian horror and Lovecraftian humor, this is something you are probably going to want to have on your bookshelf.
Is it going to be something you’ll want for your kids? Well, obviously, every kid is different. If you’re lucky enough to have a kid who loves monsters (six-year-old me waves to the crowd), they’re going to really like this book, because it’s stuffed full of monsters, all depicted in a decent degree of (non-gory) detail. It’s got dark corners, cobwebs, tentacles reaching from the attic, spooky lights, monstrous mansions, and everything else monster-loving kids like. If you’ve got kids whose idea of edgy reading material is “Pat the Bunny,” they may not appreciate it very much. They might be bored, they might be scared, hard to say… but you know your kids and what they’d like better than I do, right?
No matter whether you get it for yourself or your kids, you’ll probably want to read it with a magnifying glass on hand. There are wonderful scary/hilarious images scattered throughout every page, and you won’t want to miss out on any of them.
Anything else? The cover glows in the dark, and there’s a “Chutes and Ladders” style game on the book’s endpages called “Stairs and Tentacles.”
I think you’ll like it. Go pick it up.