Contemporary, Historical Fiction

The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the premise of this novel, I knew that I needed to read this novel. I may not have ever read any of H.P. Lovecraft’s works but I know of his reputation as a great science fiction and horror writer. Lovecraft has inspired so many authors with his work and I thought reading a novel about him would be just fascinating, especially when it is set as a literary thriller.

Marina Willett has a problem: her husband, Charlie, is obsessed with H.P.Lovecraft. Charlie is a writer, who likes to bring the lives of various people into the limelight. And now, he has decided to do so with the life of H.P. Lovecraft, starting with the time when the famous author had lived for 2 months with a fay teenage fan named Robert Barlow. What was their relationship like? Were they friends or was there something more? Just when Charlie thinks he has got the answer, a new scandal erupts and he disappears. The police say it is a suicide but Marina knows better. And she is going to do everything in her power to learn the truth.

At first, I was drawn into the story with its detailed introduction into the life of Lovecraft and the scandal of his time spent with Barlow. While it was interesting to read about, I soon began to wonder when the story was going to kick in. At the midpoint, I started to see some direction and discover how Charlie got involved in this story. But this glimpse also vanished fairly quickly, as the author spent countless chapters recounting the experiences of Barlow, Lovecraft, Spinks, and a whole host of other characters. Pretty soon, I got lost in the details of the story – and not in a good way. I came into this story with one expectation and left this story completely clueless. I’m sure I missed something somewhere but for the life of me, I couldn’t fathom the point of this story. I felt as if nothing meaningful was ever really said throughout this entire novel, and it left me disappointed. There are some raving reviews for this novel on Goodreads, so maybe I am one of the few for whom this novel just didn’t work. If you like literary fiction and Lovecraft, then I’m sure you would enjoy this novel!

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