Liz Currently Loves….Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory


Publication Date: March 24th from Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Source: Netgalley

Harrison Harrison—H2 to his mom—is a lonely teenager who’s been terrified of the water ever since he was a toddler in California, when a huge sea creature capsized their boat, and his father vanished. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school.

A few months ago I read a fantastic litte novella from Daryl Gregory called “We are all Completely Fine” – in which we met Harrison as an adult when he joins what turns out to be a particularly unusual support group. I was so engaged with it that I truly hoped that there would be more set in that world which was beautifully imagined so I was truly delighted to find “Harrison Squared”.

It is a terrific way of doing it, We Are All Completely Fine showing Harrison (just one of a whole bunch of amazing characters) when he is all grown up with all the experiences of that, now here with Harrison Squared, a novel that could be Young Adult or adult or both showing just one of the incidences of his youth that made him who he is.

This book had me snorting with laughter in places – Harrison is a witty, ironically drawn character who is also forced to grow up fast – he is  determined and often fragile, but so very likeable and engaging that he anchors the whole story giving it a highly addictive quality.

Add to that a really beautifully drawn fantasy world – urban fantasy really, where underneath the norm are many layers to be discovered. When his mother brings him to Dunnsmouth, Harrison is thrown into a weird and off kilter situation in his new school – the kids there are decidedly strange and the teaching methods are, erm, eclectic to say the least. When things go wrong at home, Harrison is sure the answer is somewhere within the depths of the town and sets off on a mission to discover just what is going on.

Cue a whole load of creepy and eerie shenanigans, a developing friendship, Harrison facing his fears head on and generally a stonking good yarn that will have you reading into the early hours of the morning. In a way it is very old school – bringing to mind the monster movies of my youth with a Hitchock flavour that I loved, beautifully written and ingenious throughout. And yes, very Lovecraft. Wonderful!

I love Daryl Gregory’s characters. We Are All Completely Fine was chock full of brilliantly drawn people, authentic despite the fantasy flavour and Harrison Squared is no different. I ADORED Harrison’s Aunt, she was so funny, a  character you wish could be in your real life with her observations and eccentric yet grounded outlook on life, her interactions with Harrison was one of the real strengths of this novel, their relationship is truly compelling.

Overall then a brilliant read – Highly Recommended from me and never before have I wished so hard for more books in a “series”. I hope that Mr Gregory brings us back to Harrison’s version of the Universe many times in the future. I will be the first in line.

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Harrison was the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time popping pills and not sleeping. Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by unreadable messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. Martin never takes off his sunglasses. Never. No one believes the extent of their horrific tales, not until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these seemingly-insane outcasts form a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within–and which are lurking in plain sight.

My Review:

A short and brilliantly imaginative read this, once you start it just demands that you finish it to the exclusion of all else, so its probably a good job that I started this one on an evening when I had nothing else that had to be done…

We meet an eclectic group of wonderfully drawn characters, brought together by Dr Jan Sayer, psychotherapist, due to their similarly odd experiences. Over the course of the tale, the backstory and motivations of each individual become clearer and it is endlessy compelling.

Very clever, the lines between fact and fiction blurring, the more the story evolves the more you will sink into that world. The author has created a tremendously fun and often scary mythology here, pretty much character driven but that manages to be part thriller and part mystery at the same time. The relationships between each individual ebb and flow and not all is as it appears – multi layered and highly inventive, it is one of those stories that make you reassess things in a new light.

I really don’t want to give anything away – whether or not this group are all a bit nuts or whether there is in fact something other worldly going on here I will leave you to discover for yourself…it is a journey worth taking for sure, 90 minutes for me of pure reading joy. Hint: Do not pick this up if you have to catch a bus in half an hour. You WILL miss the bus.

Highly Recommended.

Happy Reading Folks!




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