Litany of Dreams – Ari Marmell

Title: Litany of Dreams
Author: Ari Marmell
Published by: Aconyte
Publication date: 6th April 2021
Genre: Horror/Media Tie-In
Pages: 352
Format: eBook / ARC
Source: NetGalley

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Blurb/Synopsis

Dark incantations expose the minds of Miskatonic University students to supernatural horrors, in this chilling mystery novel of Arkham Horror

The mysterious disappearance of a gifted student at Miskatonic University spurs his troubled roommate, Elliot Raslo, into an investigation of his own. But Elliot already struggles against the maddening allure of a ceaseless chant that only he can hear… When Elliot’s search converges with that of a Greenland Inuk’s hunt for a stolen relic, they are left with yet more questions. Could there be a connection between Elliot’s litany and the broken stone stele covered in antediluvian writings that had obsessed his friend? Learning the answers will draw them into the heart of a devilish plot to rebirth an ancient horror.

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I received an ARC of Litany of Dreams via NetGalley, many thanks to NetGalley and publisher Aconyte for the approval. As this is an Advanced Reading Copy of the novel, my review doesn’t take into account any spelling or grammatical errors.


Litany of Dreams is a horror novel set in the Arkham Horror universe; this was my first interaction with anything Arkham Horror related aside from it being on the periphery of basic knowledge. As such, I went into reading this novel somewhat blind to the wider-world and what the book ties-in with. Arkham Horror being both a co-operative board game and card game. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that although this book does tie in with a much larger world, a lack of prior knowledge wasn’t in any way a hindrance to the enjoyment of the story within.

Litany of Dreams follows the story of Elliot Raslo, a young adult studying Psychology at the Miskatonic University, in his search for his missing roommate; Chester. His path crosses with Inuit, Billy Shiwak more questions about the missing students research brings forth questions that lead the unlikely pair into dangers that neither of them were expecting.

I was hooked on reading Litany of Dreams from the moment I’d devoured my way through the prologue. This was a book, quite different, to all the others I’d read recently; offering a call back to my teenaged years of reading horror with an opening so spill-chillingly captivating that I knew, before the book had even truly begun, I was going to enjoy every, disturbing minute of it.

Thankfully, my intuition was right and there wasn’t a moment, or character, of this book that I disliked. Elliot Raslo is a character viewed with a great deal of sympathy as he struggled to cope with his missing friend and the ever-worsening chant pressing at the insides of his mind. There is a strength of conviction to his actions and he leads the investigation into his roommate’s disappearance with a manner of compassionate humanity that lacks conviction in his companions. While those along with him, Billy Shiwak the Inuit and Daisy Walker have their own reasoning for getting involved with finding missing student Chester, neither of their reasons are as hearth-felt as Elliots.

This isn’t to say that the characters surrounding Elliot are lacking in personality as this is far from the case. Billy Shiwak is a reckoning unto himself – his reasons vastly differ from Elliots – that brings a blunt-force to the problems that they all face while Daisy’s role as a librarian brings in a fresh perspective. As a group they all work well together offering alternate values to the reader, offering conflicting insights to solve the overall mysteries within Litany of Dreams.

The plot arc of Litany of Dreams is a straightforward ‘defeat the big-evil,’ but that doesn’t mean it’s dull! It has enough weight to it that keeps the reader going. As one section of the plot seems to close, giving the reader enough time to come up for air, only to be swept under another addition to the disasters that the group faces. Despite its fast pace the plot is clearly defined and well carried; there is enough dialogue between the characters to help explicate the more intricate plot elements.

Litany of Dreams is undeniably horror. There are nightmares within this book that are so expertly described they ran shivers down my spine and left that, strange, ‘this feels wrong’ imprint, strong on the mind well after putting the book down. Some of the scenes in this book, Elliots personal nightmares, that will stay with me for months. There was a section of the book which was written around the Hockomock Swamp; that introduces us to the true horrors of the chant and these too were expertly crafted in the manner of their description and the elements they bring to the plot.

While I’d certainly bracket Litany of Dreams firmly in the horror department there was also an element of mystery involved. The main characters weren’t just thrust from one horrific situation to the next, they also had to figure what was going on for themselves. Their searches led to frustrating dead-ends and down the path of the red-herring which made their eventual discoveries feel all the more satisfying.

There are aspects of an older world, one of Gods, and other less-savoury beings of power, that lurk just beyond the surface in Litany of Dreams. This is something that I feel is just starting off in the novel and would love to see it explored with these characters further down the line. One of the characters to be introduced later on in the novel, Lafayette-Moses, was deeply captivating and held an air-of-mystery all of his own. Seeing him developed further in any of the possible directions he could take, would be nothing short of a pleasure to read.

As I don’t have other points of reference with other Arkham Horror novels, I don’t know how Litany of Dreams compares to the overall ethos of the world-setting. As an introduction to the Arkham Horror universe, I found it easy to pick up and engage with. There were enough threads left at the conclusion of the book that suggests there might be more in this series involving Elliot Raslo and I would be more than happy to read any further adventures involving him and the Arkham Setting – of which I am already looking to discover more of now that I have been given such a fine first encounter.

Summary

A fast paced horror-mystery novel set in the Arkham Horror universe. That touches on topics of religious entities and human compassion. With expertly written scenes of abject horror and well-crafted dialogue, this read is for anyone who enjoys a good tale of the horrific without needing any prior knowledge of the setting.