Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Harrison Squared
Daryl Gregory
Titan Books, 272 pages

Harrison Squared
Daryl Gregory
Daryl Gregory's first novel, Pandemonium, was published in 2008 and won the 2009 Crawford Award, given each year by critics and scholars of the fantasy field to "an oustanding new fantasy writer whose first book was published the previous year." The book was also a finalist for The Shirley Jackson Award, the Locus Award, and the Mythopoeic Award for best fantasy adult novel. Gregory's short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's, several year's-best anthologies, and other fine venues. In 2005 Gregory recieved the Asimov's Readers' Award for the novelette "Second Person, Present Tense." He lives with his wife and two children in State College, Pennsylvania, where he writes both fiction and web code.

Daryl Gregory Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Devil's Alphabet

A review by Sandra Scholes

There seems to be a theme here, what with Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth edited by Stephen Jones being in the realm of Lovercraftian horror tomes, Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory has Harrison, a teenage boy with a fear of the ocean since he was a young boy after a sailing accident marked the loss of his beloved father. Harrison is classed as a "sensitive" who can feel the pull of the spiritual world. He and his mother go to a place that might sound familiar to most Lovercraft fans, Dunnsmouth (Innsmouth) the sort of town where the people who live there are the sort you don't want to mess with, or integrate with as they aren't exactly normal. So far Harrison has played a back-seat role regarding his life, but when his mother goes missing at sea, he has to brush with the unknown.

From the author of After Party, Daryl Gregory swaps futuristic drugs and their meaning in life for some Lovecraftian fun in Dunnsmouth which has a lighthouse, docks, rental place and a secondary school. From the moment he gets there, he realises he's not going to get on with the other students. For what he has been through, he feels he isn't like them at all, but his mum still enthusiastic about the creatures that swim in the ocean she is almost fanatical about. One in particular takes her fancy; Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni and she sets off after it. Harrison feels alone, but is he really?

Lydia, a girl from the same school befriends him on his first day, showing him around and the professor can see he is no ordinary boy. He is looking for something, but Harrison thinks he is crazy. It is only when he is alone that the true nature of Dunnsmouth shows itself. When he goes outside he sees someone or something watching him in the trees. The thing looks like a bald man who thieves his new book and takes off with it! He's not normal and as he has got a good look at him, he sees he's strange; with glassy eyes and sharp teeth. Only a few days there gives Harrison the impression no one there is actually normal, but instead of letting it faze him, he tolerates each strange occurrence. Along the way after his mother has disappeared, he is left clues as to where she might be, but even these he sees as vague even though he tries to follow them. I like that Gregory has made this a Lovecraftian comedy complete with a funny swimming tutorial, lobster-eating moment an old poem that would shed some light on where his mother might be. The way Gregory has written it shows almost everything that happens in the book does so for a reason; for the love note he is given by the nurse to the clues in the map to the library. They are all linked, humorously so, but the idea is Harrison wants to find his mother he will have to take his journey over a water which he hates.

Harrison Squared is a welcome departure from Gregory's usual novels and humour just seems to suit him very well. This is a coming of age story for Harrison who finds unlikely allies in some of the characters. His mother proves to be almost impossible to find until half-way through the book, and even then it doesn't look good for her in her situation. Harrison is dipped into the wild world of the strange creatures and sinister shadows with alarming humour in almost each chapter. The author of After Party has created Lovecraft with a distinct funny-bone.

Copyright © 2015 Sandra Scholes

Sandra is still waiting for the summer to arrive, but until then she is busy writing for YaoiAGoGo, Albedo One, The BFS and Love Romance Passion.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide