Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Date Read: October 9 to 21, 2015
Recommended for: fans of sea monsters and snarky prose
Harrison Squared is perfectly autumn and perfectly Halloween, which is why I’m now putting up a short write-up that I wrote awhile ago. Out of season. In spring. Over 2 years after having first read it.
Anyhow, this is another fun read by Daryl Gregory. I’m convinced he can write anything and I hope he does–write everything, I mean–because he’s got a great way with words, well-timed humor, and a way of turning familiar, tired, old tropes into something new and exciting. They’re still tropes, but he makes them fun to read.
This is my 4th Daryl Gregory book (Afterparty, We Are All Completely Fine, Raising Stony Mayhall), and I still find him exciting. It’s still exciting to see his name on the new release list, and I’m still trying to make room in my reading schedule for his latest, Spoonbenders.
Every autumn, I try to plan a vaguely Halloween-themed reading list, but rarely follow through because I’m a mood reader, forever destined to follow whatever the mood calls for. So I pick up whatever that “feels right.” Some years I get lucky and end up with vaguely autumnal books, and other years I get typical YA paranormals (because people keep recommending them). This year, though, I’ve been lucky in my picks. Almost every book picked up from the beginning of October to now goes quite well with Halloween. They all have that quintessential chilling undertone that I always associate with this time of the year, and this book is among the best of them.
In short, I was thinking about this book today and so just wanted to briefly recommend this book to anyone queuing up their autumn reading list. There’s a good blend of creepiness and humor, and the characters and setting are a lot of fun. If
fishy dodgy small towns, open water, Lovecraftian sea creatures, and urban legends are any interest to you, I would highly recommend this book.
She looked up at us. “Who are you?”
“I’m Rosa Harrison,” Mom said.
“This is my son, Harrison.”
“And his first name?” She stared at me with tiny black eyes under fanlike eyelashes.
“Harrison,” I said. Sometimes—like now, for example—I regretted that my father’s family had decided that generations of boys would have that double name. Technically, I was Harrison Harrison the Fifth. H2x5 . But that was more information than I ever wanted to explain.
Dr. Herbert waved. This gesture was made a bit threatening due to the fact that he was holding a scalpel, and the sleeve of his coat was streaked with blood up to the elbow. His uncovered eye blinked wetly at me. “Have you taken biology?” the doctor asked.
“Freshman year,” I said.
“Oh,” the doctor said. He sounded disappointed. Suddenly he brightened. “Have you taken cryptobiology?”
I grinned. “In my family, cryptobiology isn’t a course, it’s dinner conversation.”
“I like this boy!” Dr. Herbert said.
This was the problem with a small school in a small town. Not only did the students all look like each other, they’d all developed the same nervous tics. It made me wonder about inbreeding. Take off their shoes, and did they have webbed feet? Was the weird-looking fish boy who’d stolen my book just a relative on the more damaged branch of the family tree?
Oh no, I thought. Physical Education.
And then I realized it was even more horrible than that. The boys began to pull on swim trunks. This wasn’t just PE; it was swimming.
Some of the boys glanced at me. I stood there, holding my backpack, not moving. I was not about to get naked in front of these ignorami. I waited until one by one they made their way out the far exit. When there were just a handful of boys left in the changing room, I went out to the pool.
I stood up and stifled a yelp. The pale shape coursed toward the edge of the pool at tremendous speed. At the last moment, the water broke, and the creature threw itself onto the deck. It slid a few feet, then threw out its arms and rose up on its belly like a walrus.
It was a man. A bald man, fat and white as a beluga. He smiled. “Who’s ready for laps?”
“When the supernatural turns out to be real, it’s not super natural anymore—it’s just nature. Yes, it may be strange, uncanny, or frightening. It’s always scary to find out that the world is bigger and more complex than you thought.”
They were all sure they’d fulfilled their holy duty and that the destruction of the human world was nigh.
Cults. They always thought the glass was half-doomed.