Book review: Hammers on Bone – Cassandra Khaw


The mythos created by Lovecraft so many years ago still resonates strongly with readers today. Some writers use the source material as a platform to create something new and original whereas others take a slightly more traditional route and choose to expand on Lovecraft’s original story ideas but sometimes at the expense of  injecting any of their own personality into the story. The cover art sucked me into this one (haha). I think it’s great, and Cassandra Khaw’s writing is equally impressive.

When private detective John Persons takes on an unusual case given to him by a young boy to kill his stepfather, his journey takes him into the seedy underbelly of London. Persons is a rough and ready investigator, sharp-tongued and totally engaging as a character. His internal thoughts give you a much clearer picture as to his character. Yes, he is a little stereotypical as a PI/detective type but it doesn’t detract from the overall excellence of the narrative.

There is something about the mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft and noir that just works in my opinion. ‘Hammers on Bone’ races along at break-neck speed and perhaps that is the novellas only slight downfall. There is so much more to discover in this world I felt that another 20-30 pages wouldn’t have gone amiss. However, this is only a minor complaint and more of a personal preference. What Khaw does manage to pack into this short novella is quite staggering and in the hands of a lesser writer ‘Hammers on Bone’ would be “just another Lovecraft detective story”, fortunately the writing is top draw. Cassandra Khaw has a wonderful, lyrical way with words that make this novella race by. Her graphic descriptions are superb, and the multitude of mouths, tentacles and extra eyes left me feeling queasy, like I needed a good shower at the end. The sleazy noir vibe along with the creepy Lovecraftian atmosphere she creates throughout is grim, dark but wonderful, just perfect for the story.

A couple of things are left open, and I do believe that we will be reading more from Mr Persons in the future. Tor release some of the best novellas out there so you can count me in for the next instalment.

4/5 tentacles

Pick up a copy from here.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. frjameson says:

    Sounds interesting.
    I always prefer my Lovecraft written by authors other than Lovecraft.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. adishotbolt says:

    I agree with you on that, for sure. 😃


  3. C.T. Phipps says:

    I was he-hawing about buying this but you convinced me to do so. Thanks for the review!


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