Middle portions of the trilogy are always difficult. There is not the excitement of starting a story nor the anticipation of a conclusion. So how do you make the middle volume interesting? In the case of this book the author changed things up a bit and focused much more on the Lovecraftian Elements then in the first book in the series.
The strategy is largely successful. Lovegrove incorporates elements from a wide variety of Lovecraft’s tales From his stories involving the dream cycle to fantastical creatures to elder gods. And I will admit I had a lot of fun trying to identify all the various Lovecraft stories that he was referencing throughout the novel.
There is some repetition from the earlier book with Holmes having to become more and more involved with sorcery In order to combat these supernatural menaces. Some of the artifacts used seemed a little too convenient & the heroes were able to master these arcane tools a bit too quickly. One in particular was a crown that is used to control reptiles. While I did appreciate how the author tied in the use of this crown with how Dr. Watson first became enmeshed in the world of the supernatural, it still felt like they were able to master this artifact way easily.
The story also takes a fairly long detour into the journal of a person involved with the Whateley family &, as anyone with a knowledge of Lovecraft knows, interactions with that family never end well. The journal portion of the story felt forced & completely out of sync with the rest of the novel. I was not a fan of the section .
Moriarty does return in a way that was surprising to me but it felt implausible, even for a story involving Elder Gods and spellcasting. I wanted to love this book but it just felt like two parts that didn’t really fit together as well as they did in the first novel . This is not a bad novel, just average, which is disappointing because I thought it could’ve been so much more