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on Nov. 06, 2013 :
Having read Hemplow's 'The Innsmouth Syndrome' and really enjoying not only their writing style, but the well crafted story, I decided to pick up 'Sarcophagus'. What I got was an interesting lesson on myths centered around Chernobyl and a unique Lovecraftian story.
Hemplow writes interesting characters, and this story is no different. Victoria comes across as a realistic character, her decisions reflecting her experiences both past and present. Her inner struggles with the things she sees are understandable, and do not feel plot driven. I was especially drawn to her inner thoughts later on when she is told something I can not spoil here. Her reaction, her decisions, and ultimately her final choice, all seem like the thoughts of someone who has experienced all that she has.
The Lovecraftian horror of the story is also done well. There is a smattering of folklore that is centered around Chernobyl which had me instantly googling it learn more and that I found highly engaging. It added a level of realism to the story and helped to create a believable situation to insert the true horror of the story.
My only real complaint to the story is that when the final confrontation happens, it comes across as kind of hokey. The entire 'using primal instincts to obey vs using other primal instincts to fight it', while a good concept, didn't fit with everything that had been going on. Especially with Victoria's earlier thoughts, and even more so with the final decision at the end of the story. (which perhaps was supposed to be ironic, but in the end killed all validity the mental battle had at the climax of the story)
Still, the story is well crafted, the characters are enjoyable, and the setting was handled really well. Still worth picking up if you want to read a shorter Lovecraftian story, or are interested in some of the myths of Chernobyl. (not to mention, it is attractively priced as well, which is nice in this ever increasing pricing for ebook market)
(reviewed long after purchase)