On the Shelf Review – Our Ladies of Sorrow

Back in my early days of playing Call of Cthulhu, I would generally shun any non-Mythos contributions, out of the perspective that much of it was antithetical to Lovecraft’s vision and not very good in quality.  This is true, of course, but it’s equally true of much Mythos-based material for the game as well.  It took some time to get over this impression, with Pagan’s Coming Full Circle doing much to aid in my rehabilitation.

At the time, then, I would have steadfastly avoided a non-Mythos Call of Cthulhu campaign like Our Ladies of Sorrow from Miskatonic River Press, even if it was the work of veteran CoC author Kevin Ross.  If I had, I would have been truly missing out on a great campaign.

Our Ladies of Sorrow draws upon De Quincy’s short story, “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow” (truncated in the book by accident), as its prime source of inspiration.  It has further literary roots in the works of Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith, and Carlos Castaneda, and the movies of Dario Argento and Hideo Nakata are also clear sources of inspiration.  Ross blends together these sources into a mix that is unique and undeniably creepy.

Ross provides us with three scenarios set in modern times and built around a dark trinity of female figures – the Lady of Darkness, the Lady of Sighs, and the Lady of Tears.  The first scenario, “House of Shadows,” brings the investigators through a mysterious suicide to an apartment building in which dark forces are at work.  The second, “Desert of Sighs”, involves a manhunt for missing hikers in the deserts of the Southwest.  A small Midwestern town threatened by floodwaters and tormented by a mysterious apparition is the focus of “River of Tears.”  The book wraps up with “The Final Cut,” an epilogue drawing the themes of the other three adventures together, allowing investigators to meet or avoid their fates.

Everything here is top-notch – the writing, the situations, the plot, the villains, and the atmosphere.  My only concern was the organization – at times, it’s hard to tell what’s supposed to happen when in an adventure, and a timeline might have benefited.  Nonetheless, this is a definite pick-me-up for those who like to run or read Call of Cthulhu products.

Published in: on November 13, 2009 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. It’s funny you should mention Fritz Leiber’s “Our Lady of Darkness”/”The Pale Brown Thing.” Aside from being a damn fine read, it’s a tribute story that ties in nicely to Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Arthur Machen.

    For what it’s worth, there’s a nice interview with Ross about “Our Ladies of Sorrow” here: http://www.koboldquarterly.com/k/article1945.php

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