The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge: Book Review

The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge: Book Review

The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge is a tale about psychiatry, horror pulp fiction, secrets and the scandal when secrets are revealed. The Night Ocean revolves around H. P Lovecraft and his contemporaries, as told by the wife of H. P. Lovecraft’s would be biographer. Furthermore, the wife is also a psychiatrist.

The reviewer is not familiar with the work of H. P Lovecraft and after reading this book I am not sure I want to explore this author? Horror pulp fiction is not my interest. I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the story line as told by a psychiatrist.

The Night Ocean is a within a story. In a less capable authors hand this format could of been confusing, but wasn’t. The author has explored each characters secrets and provided enough twists and turns to keep momentum. In the reviewers experience this book was unique in terms of the format and it is this aspect The Night Ocean provides compelling reading.

Each character was well developed, the reader is given exquisite insight into every secret through both the character and the recollections of friends, enemies and lovers. The keeping of so many secrets and the resulting bad behaviour to keep the secrets hidden meant that the reviewer found most of the characters not likeable.

The Night Ocean is successful in that it delivers a nice neat tidy package that by the end all secrets are revealed, the story was well resolved and very well written. Would I recommend it? Well that is the rub. I just didn’t like the characters, although I admire the authors intent. Quite simply the book was too ‘dark’ for my tastes.

Interestingly, the horror fiction writer Stephen King has said that H. P Lovecraft is “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”** Stephen King names H P Lovecraft as the writer who inspired him to create his own horror fiction.

I recommend this book to anyone with a love of H. P. Lovecraft and the history of horror pulp fiction.

**Wohleber, Curt (December 1995). “The Man Who Can Scare Stephen King”. American Heritage. 46 (8). Retrieved September 10, 2013.

This book has a 3 out of 5 star rating.

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