Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne
JournalStone (January 2015)
278 pages; $17.95 paperback/$5.39 ebook
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
Red Equinox places us in the shoes of Becca, an urban explorer whose Gramma was deep into cultish lore and who stumbles onto something far too real and far too sinister for her to believe. Soon, she finds herself caught between a cult that wants to bring the Elder Gods to bear on us all and a secret government agency that is definitely not the B.P.R.D. Dimensional walls are breached, horrific and barely describable monsters are summoned and it looks like the world may end.
To be honest, if I hadn’t been reading this for a review, I would have stopped well before the 90 pages it takes for the story to start going anywhere. I like my prose bruise-purple, fraught with dense, intricately wrought phrasing which adds a sense of poetry and flavor to the mundanity of language. However, this feels more overwritten than purple, with large chunks of text that flounders, filling space until direction is found. This absolutely kills the momentum even after the tale gets rolling and keeps it from establishing that rhythm of exposition and action that is necessary for effective pacing. Picky people like myself will be regularly thrown by massive factual inaccuracies, as well.
Also, Red Equinox falls into the same trap too many modern Lovecraftian stories do: the elements of Lovecraft are largely superficial and directly name-checked. Azathoth, Nyarlathotep and Shub-niggurath are not what make a story Lovecraftian, and that sense of an incomprehensibly large universe wherein people are less than ants is missing here. Although, respect must be given for the use of the ideas presented by The Beyond without mentioning either Tillinghast or his resonator.
I sound harsher here than I mean to. There is plenty of action and I adore that no one is painted with “Snidely Whiplash” evilocity, even the cultist that is trying to bring about the end of humanity. Some quite interesting concepts and ideas are played with, too. It is just that the clunky pacing and need of a merciless editor made it far too tough for me to muddle through and enjoy myself.