The Compleat Crow
by Brian Lumley
Cover Artist: Bob Eggleton
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Press Deluxe Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596065543
Date: 31 March 2014
This anthology brings together eleven short stories by Brian Lumley featuring his series character Titus Crow. It begins with Crow's birth and ends after his death. Crow is a master magician of white magic and battles the forces of evil generally in the form of the gods of the Cthulhu mythos. Lumley used the Cthuhu mythos as the focus of the forces of horror in his series of novels featuring Crow.
Despite being set primarily in the latish mid-twentieth century, the writing reminds one of the Victorian period. In many ways, Crow resembles Sherlock Holmes. For those who haven't read the short stories, this collection provides insights into Crow and his methods. The first story, "Inception", covers Crow’s birth and baptism with the Elixir which gives him awareness of good and evil. It begins with a fugitive seeking the Elixir. He finds it, but has been warned of its danger. However, one of the undead is in hot pursuit. Two other stories, "The Mirror of Nitocis" features a protégé of Crow while "The Black Recalled" focuses on two of his enemies after his death.
The second story, "Lord of the Worms", describes the beginning of Crow’s efforts to fight evil. His first job, just after World War II, leads to his encounter with one of the undead seeking to extend its life by taking Crow’s.
The remainder of the vintage horror stories pit Crow and his protégé Henri-Laurent de Marigny against the forces of evil and black magic. The titles are: Inception (1987); Lord of the Worms (1983); The Caller of the Black (1971); The Viking’s Stone (1977); The Mirror Nictocis (1971); An Item of Supporting Evidence (1970); Billy’s Oak (1970); Darghud’s Doll (1977); De Marigny’s Clock; Name and Number (1982); and The Black Recalled (1983).
From time to time, Subterranean issues special editions of novellas and anthologies of famous writers. Some are specially written for the series, some are new collections of older stories that may be hard to find or scatter across various publications. These collections offers mementos for fans or short introductions to the authors for new readers. The Compleat Crow is a reissue.