That Which Should Not Be

  • by Brett J. Talley
  • Narrated by David Stifel
  • 10 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston's professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, the student doesn't hesitate to begin the quest.
Weston's journey takes an unexpected turn, however, when he ventures into a tavern in the small town of Anchorhead. Rather than passing the evening as a solitary patron, Weston joins four men who regale him with stories of their personal experiences with forces both preternatural and damned. Two stories hit close to home as they tie the tellers directly to Weston's current mission.
His unanticipated role as passive listener proves fortuitous, and Weston fulfills his goal. Bringing the book back to Miskatonic, though, proves to be a grave mistake. Quickly, Weston realizes he has played a role in potentially opening the gate between the netherworld and the world of man. Reversing the course of events means forgetting all he thought he knew about Miskatonic and his professor and embracing an unknown beyond his wildest imagination.

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Customer Reviews

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An excellent horror novel, now a great audiobook

The best compliment I can give “That Which Should Not Be” is that it’s the only novel I’ve ever read three times (four counting the audio version). That’s how good it is.

Built around a series of chilling tales recounted by the novel’s characters, each is self-contained and enjoyable in its own right. Yet these individual stories contribute in ways not immediately foreseeable to the overall plot. It’s a classic kind of storytelling, and author Brett J. Talley pulls it off masterfully. In each of the novel’s composite narratives, he builds dread-filled anticipation, and pays off the reader with harrowing action.

Audiobook narrator David Stifel’s style melds perfectly with the author’s storytelling. Stifel’s delivery is precisely the voice one would expect of late 19th century men hesitantly sharing the horrible things they’ve seen and endured. This is the first audiobook of Stifel’s I’ve listened to, but based on his performance here, I will be checking out more of his work. (And certainly the audio version of TWSNB’s sequel, “He Who Walks In Shadow,” which Stifel also narrates.)

TWSNB is a Lovecraftian horror novel, meaning it borrows from the mythos created by early 20th century horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. For those unfamiliar, Lovecraft is credited with creating “cosmic horror.” In Lovecraft’s telling, at some point in the ancient past these massively powerful elder gods called the Old Ones were cast out of our world. Their return would pretty much mean the end of the world, and for that reason a lot of Lovecraft-inspired fiction revolves around human worshippers foolishly trying to awaken their favorite Old One. You needn’t be a Lovecraft fan to enjoy this novel, though if you are you’ll notice more than a few Easter eggs.

In Lovecraftian fiction, a protagonist’s powerlessness relative to the Old Ones can be taken as shorthand for humanity’s cosmic insignificance, yet Talley rejects this nihilism. In addition to all the disquieting coincidences, eerie locales, and menacing atmosphere Lovecraftian horror at its best should offers, TWSNB gives us bold heroes whose struggle valiantly against evil. Perhaps more importantly, their struggles have a point, their suffering meaning.

For all the blood and horror contained in TWSNB, it’s that belief in purpose and hope that makes it refreshing compared to a lot of modern horror, and perhaps the broader culture as well. And that, I suspect, is why I’ve returned to the novel every couple years.
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- Amazon Customer

Pure Lovecraftian Art

I found this particular book to be riveting. The narrator expertly conveyed the distinct nuances of each character, and the stories told by each man in the tavern with our skeptical protagonist were as enthralling as they were connected to the overall story. I would certainly recommend it, but perhaps not for people who live alone in dark and remote houses where things go bump in the night.
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- Chelsea Tisdale

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-04-2016
  • Publisher: Journalstone Publishing