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Servants of Chaos - Don D'Ammassa Horror Book Review
Horror books Review
Servants of Chaos by Don D’Ammassa was copyrighted in 2002. Apparently everyone and his brother knew about it but I didn’t until I got the recent Rainfall Books chapbook checklisting a bunch of mythos books. List price was $5.99 for a Leisure Books mass market paperback and cheap copies are available from used bookstores. The cover picture shows a harbor full of fishing boats but I can’t for the life of me figure out who did it from the book. Don D’Ammassa has written numerous stories and a few novels but the only other flat out mythos story I know of by him was “Dominion” in 1999’s New Mythos Legends, a very nice short story. Page count was 338; editing was tight with only a few typos I noticed.
There are not many full length mythos novels. Some are absolute dogs like HP Lovecraft Institute, Nightmare’s Disciple, A Darkness Inbred or Other Nations. Some are fair, like Delta Green: Denied to the Enemy, Hive or The Colour Out of Darkness (more a novella…more a long short story, really). Some are very good like The Atrocity Archive, The Jennifer Morgue, Ravenous Dusk, Balak, The Gardens of Lucullus, Where Goeth Nyarlathotep and Delta Green: The Rules of Engagement. One is a flat out masterpiece: Radiant Dawn. Some I still haven’t read, like Mr. X and Blue Devil Island. In this company I think Servants of Chaos is probably best rated as fair, worth a read at least. Unlike some other reviewers I don’t find too much similarity to The Shadow Over Innsmouth except for the Massachusetts shore locations of the town.
Steven Canfort, a research institute employee, comes to the shabby, run down, xenophobic town of Crayport on the Massachusetss coast, with hopes of buying some property to set up a research station. Some of the inhabitants look weird, most of them are just about hostile and he doesn’t have much luck. His erstwhile girlfriend Alyson Branford joins him. He meets the charismatic and more normal looking town patriarchs, the Crawleys. Just as he seems to make a contact who would be willing to sell him some land, that family vanishes under very suspicious circumstances. A local boy, Sean, tries to get him and Alyson to help Jennifer, the daughter of the murdered family. Now the action picks up as the Crawleys lead some of the stange inhabitants of the town in caturing the main characters. We find out that the Crawleys are using rituals drawn from the Necronomicon to allow transdimensional creatures to enter our world. The call themselves Those Who Serve. The weird zombie like townspeople are called Those Who Serve the Servants. It turns out they are possessed and used as puppets by bizarrely hostile creatures called Passengers. The Crawleys and their followers serve a monstrous thing, one of the Great Old Ones no doubt (perhaps resembling Shub Niggurath but not named), that is also implanting other sacrificial victims with Children, obscene creatures of great power. It turns out the Crawleys plan to accumuate enough of these Children to take over the world and bring these ancient god like beings back to primacy on Earth. The plot and creatures are mythos enough! The book bogs down a bit in execution. Most of it is devoted to action sequences, hairs breadth escapes, furious fights, explosions, kidnappings and general mayhem. This was OK enough; maybe there were a few too many such events. Car chases are more exciting on the big screen than on the little page. A few characters get killed off, so Mr. D’Ammassa is not too sentimental. The characterizations were paper thin, again OK enough in a book like this. I didn’t really end up liking or caring about the main characters. The descriptions of monsters was done with flair but the plotting and behavior of the villians was pretty stereotypically mythosian, as well as not particularly clever for an evil overlord. The hero had just about super human resourcefullness, luck and endurance. The epilogue ending was telegraphed a mile away; not only was it not really convincing in context, but I also could not persuade myself to care about it. Oh well, it’s a Leisure Book! What do you expect? At one point Steve’s internal dialogue says about some strange occurrence something to the effect that this would only happen in a bad horror novel….
Servants of Chaos, being a mass market paperback, is a bargain compared to most mythos novels, especially if you score a used copy. It was a diverting read over a few days. I liked it well enough and didn’t punt on it (like I did A Darkness Inbread and Nightmare’s Disciple). I hope this is not the end of Don D’Amassa’s interest in the mythos.