Review of P.A. Douglas’s “The Old One”
The Old One takes place in the sleepy little town of Top Sail Beach on an island off the coast of North Carolina. Like most little towns, it has its share of secrets and skeletons in the closet. Unfortunately, one particular bit of darkness from its past has chosen to rise up out of the sea to wreak unholy havoc on the little burg.
We are first introduced to one elderly resident of the town who is out fishing one night while lamenting the passing of his wife when he gets a nibble on his line and either falls into the ocean or perhaps is yanked in and nearly drowns. Miraculously saved by his neighbor who was passing by the pier his small boat was tied to, he awakens the next day not quite himself. Something evil is inside him and it isn’t satisfied with possessing just him-it wants much more.
The Old One is a Lovecraft inspired tale that mixes Cthulhu mythology with a new take on the living dead, with interesting results. The main character is Max, a transplant to Topsail Beach who has become content living in the isolated little community despite knowing he’ll never be considered a local by many of the residents. He lives with Hanna, his wife, and has a job as a mechanic at one of the local shops. Shortly after we are introduced to Max his world is turned upside down when he and Hanna are attacked by his neighbors who are maimed and appear to be dead. As unbelievable as that seems, it isn’t the worst of it. When he is forced to destroy one of his attackers, vile squid-like creatures burst forth from the ghoul’s stomach and begin the hunt for new flesh to latch on to.
This story is a whirlwind of blood, guts, and nightmarish creatures that get worse at every turn. At first, Max can’t comprehend what is happening, but as the night wears on and the lashing storm that has engulfed the island grows stronger, more hints as to what is really happening reveal themselves. There is something far worse at work here than a plague of foul leaches turning humans into cannibalistic puppets. Because there is something those creatures call mother and it has also risen from the dark depths of the ocean, a true horror to behold.
The Old One is fun and interesting take on the Cthulhu mythos-sort of a side-story to the mythology about a single dark and almost forgotten god whose true purpose is cloaked in mystery. The author’s enthusiasm for Lovecraftian horror shines through on each page and while this story is not perfect, his exuberance makes up for the fact that it felt like there were a few gaps in the story, or more specifically, the back story. The yearning to learn more about what came before and what causes the Old One to rise up from the sea remains in me well after reading this tale, but perhaps is how it is meant to be. The story could use another pass to clean up some of the typos left behind, but overall the writing is sharp and Mr. Douglas continues to impress with the creativity in each of his new tales. Despite the length of this book, it has the feel of a short story that reads like a surprising slap across the face that leaves you a bit stunned and disconcerted about what just happened…which isn’t a bad thing when it comes to horror.
The Old One can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E3LZY44/ref=cm_cr_thx_view