Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



In association with Amazon.it - Italia

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Kthulhu Reich

Asamatsu Ken

general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Kthulhu Reich

Title: Kthulhu Reich
Author: Asamatsu Ken
Genre: Stories
Written: (1999) (Eng. 2019)
Length: 220 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Kthulhu Reich - US
Kthulhu Reich - UK
Kthulhu Reich - Canada
  • Japanese title: 邪神帝国
  • Collects seven stories originally published between 1994 and 1999
  • Translated by Jim Rion

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B : creative spin superimposing Lovecraftian lore on Nazi history

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Kthulhu Reich collects seven stories, each occult-tinged and steeped to varying degrees in (H.P.)Lovecraftian lore -- and each with a connection to Nazi history. These are horror stories that layer two baffling, powerful evils. Neither is sympathetic, but, deeply rooted in history and nature, they remain, in their ugly forms, enduring -- nearly indomitable, at best perhaps contained but impossible to crush.
       The first, 'The Corporal's Self-Portrait' is in some ways the most fantastical; it is the one that is least connected to actual events, yet in echoing the familiar feels creepily plausible. The narrator-author, in the near-present-day, describes his acquaintance with Hirata, a man he first meets in a grungy Tokyo cocktail bar when young Hirata is a completely down and out wannabe artist. From Hirata's background, interests, and obsessions (among other clues ...), you can quickly see where this is going -- but it's still quite effective, with a nice chill to the scene when the narrator does take a look at the self-portraits Hirata has in his apartment, all facing the wall, and then the open conclusion -- the narrator expressing only his fears of what lies ahead, imagining a scene in: "five or maybe ten years" .....
       Other stories are more closely based on actual events, from the more distant past, or at least tied into them. 'Dies Irae' is a story of the 20 July 1944 assassination-plot to kill Hitler, and how it failed, while 'April 20, 1889' imaginatively connects the series of 1888 Jack the Ripper murders with the birth of you-know-who the next spring.
       'In the Wastelands of Madness' sees a German expedition follow where Lovecraft had sent a team from Miskatonic University a few years earlier, to Antarctica and its 'Mountains of Madness'. With Hitler convinced of the existence of an Antarctic paradise then named New Swabia, a volcanically warmed oasis, well-hidden in the depths of the otherwise frozen continent, the narrator is sent to begin a year-long tour on guard-duty in the unlikely place. While the oasis does exist, there's also more (Lovecraftian horror) lurking there; clearly, this will not be a place of refuge or last resort for the Nazis.
       In both 'In the Wastelands of Madness' and 'The Mask of Yoth Tlaggon' said mask features prominently, a remarkable object, as: "Any who wear it are gifted visions that transcend space and time" -- for better and worse. 'The Mask of Yoth Tlaggon' is set in 1937, and features Japanese intelligence agent Tatewaki Goto, sent to determine what the Nazi plans are, especially regarding the Soviet Union. He gets a front and center view of their occult-obsessions, and the remarkable mask -- and along the way wonders to himself:

     Is every one of these Nazis completely insane ?! Goto felt his heart quail within him. This is an empire of madmen.
       'Gigantomachia 1945' is set on a U-boat, the Reich just having fallen, a secret mission underway to bring valuable human cargo to safety in South America, with plans already for the: "founding of the glorious Fourth German Reich". The unnatural here at first does not seem even that much beyond the run-of-the-mill high seas horror, but monstrous pitted against monstrous here too inevitably leads to catastrophe.
       Many leading Nazi figures are featured in these stories -- as are Lovecraftian creations, concepts, and places. Asamatsu plays them quite well off one another, as the Nazi-world -- with its occult bent, too -- in its monstrosity is a good fit with the Lovecraftian world. History is stretched here, but Asamatsu does also tie in actual events in some interesting ways, including in the very creatively presented Jack the Ripper-variation story, 'April 20, 1889'.
       The stories are mainly about, or lead up to, the horror -- horror in some near-unspeakable form --, but if even the calmest conclusions aren't exactly understated, there's at least some effort at thoughtfulness and craft to them beyond sheer monster-play.
       Somewhat basic, in every way, Kthulhu Reich is still solid and quite clever horror -- though very reliant on the twin evils everything is built around, the Lovecraftian and Nazi abominations.

- M.A.Orthofer, 23 June 2019

- Return to top of the page -


Kthulhu Reich: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Japanese author Asamatsu Ken (朝松健) was born in 1956.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2019 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links