No Surrender (Review)

No SurrenderNo Surrender by Dale Lucas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This military-historical-horror novella was my first exposure to Dale Lucas. I had heard good things about the author’s ‘Doc Voodoo’ series and so I gave the novella a go. ‘No Surrender’ is a “Lovecraftian Horror,” and successfully blends American Civil War history with H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Like a proper Lovercraftian yarn, the horror slithers at a snail’s pace, starting first with Yates and his hysterical retelling of the Terrible Awful Thing he saw in the woods. Orion Bell, the madman-scientist-occultist who now leads the Ku Klux Klan, is butchering Negroes to resurrect an ancient, evil deity. Of course no one believes Yates, but Lieutenant Kenning marches Union soldiers into the woods to investigate the claims anyway.
The weirdness progresses from there. They encounter a town full of crustacean-people who chase them onto a roof, terrified runaway slaves, a mansion haunted by a manic, homicidal bride, and of course, Nyarlathotep (aka Terrible Awful Thing that Yates saw in the woods.) I won’t spoil what happens because the story is so short. But it’s a fun read—gory in some parts and full of local color and atmosphere. Faces are nailed into tree trunks and everyone goes insane. Fun stuff.
I liked how Lucas weaved civil war history and the Ku Klux Klan into his plot. You will feel Florida’s mosquitoes and stifling humidity on each page. The author lives in the St. Petersburg/Tampa-area where the story takes place. And his regional knowledge shines through, here, as he paints the geographical landscape.
Alternate historical stories are great because familiar ideas are retold in creative ideas. Normally, I am bored to tears by American Civil War stories. Seldom are they interesting or informative, but Lucas manages to pack the historical references in without droning on like a 6th grade social studies textbook. I heartily recommend ‘No Surrender’ to anyone who enjoys H.P. Lovecraft or dark, military thrillers.

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