Book Review: Professor Gargoyle - Tales From Lovecraft Middle School #1 / Author: Charles Gilman / Publisher: Quirk Books / Release Date: October 25th
It's HP Lovecraft for kids, minus the racism. Young Robert Arthur is the new kid at Lovecraft Middle School, a creepy cross between Grange Hill and Hogwarts. There he encounters school bullies, two-headed rats and a sinister science teacher named Garfield Goyle.
It's not exactly The Evil Dead, but Professor Gargoyle is still an enjoyable tale. Were I fifteen years younger, I would have lapped up Tales from Lovecraft Middle School as I did the Goosebumps and Demon Headmaster books. The story is fast paced and interesting enough, the characters chummy and relatable. There are lessons to be learned too, as the book teaches its younger readers how to deal with bullies and cope with moving to a new school. The best lesson, however, is in its dedication to the cause of Lovecraft. We were surprised by just how much Gilman manages to pack in there.
Attempts to appeal to adult readers are appreciated, with cheeky references to Lovecraft locations (Dunwich, of course) and even a nod to one Crawford Tillinghast, of From Beyond fame. Even the mighty Cthulu pops up occasionally, amidst guttural chants of “kyaloh yog-sothoth f'ah” and pleas to shub-niggurath (okay, maybe the author's awful xenophobia hasn't been completely excised). There's a genuine sense that Professor Gargoyle was written by a man who knows and loves his horror. The book is a little too childish for lone adult reading, but it'd be fun enough for those parents who still bother reading to their children. Good luck in explaining the concept of The Old Ones to your kids, though (“well, son, The Old Ones are the things that were and shall be again”) and remember, keep away from the bloody Necronomicon, should you decide to do any further reading. We all remember what happened to that lovely Bruce Campbell when he found the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis audio book in the woods.
The story comes with a number of lovely illustrations (one of which is genuinely creepy and a little reminiscent of the old V television series) and a truly fantastic front cover. Beyond the Lovecraft references and pretty packaging, Professor Gargoyle is actually a rather conventional piece of young fiction. But to HP scholars and obsessives like us, it can do no wrong.
Stopping to consider that Professor Gargoyle is effectively a sequel to From Beyond for children, you have to admire the author's ambition. Any book which attempts to teach HP Lovecraft to children will forever have our approval.