H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos exists in a weird limbo of our culture. The property has been adapted and reimagined in countless books, movies, video games; you name it and Cthulhu has touched it. Yet the character itself still hasn’t pierced that social veil to become a household name. Yes, even the occasional horror geek can recognize Cthulhu’s iconic appearance. But the average person cannot. Despite its countless appearances in all forms of media, Cthulhu has yet to reach the pinnacle of pop culturedom alongside other horror stars such as Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster.
Enter SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU. The book is a sequel (or perhaps just a follow-up) to the successful C IS FOR CTHULHU alphabet book by Jason Ciaramella & Greg Murphy. SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU is unlike most works that utilize Lovecraft’s creations in that it’s designed for young kids. As a parent, I’ve read tons of “scary” children’s stories, all featuring playful versions of horrors biggest superstars: mummies, vampires, witches, etc. But out favorite Great Old One is never included among the greats (no pun intended).
Who knows why Cthulhu was excluded from the list. Maybe people thought he looked too weird. Or his name was too hard to say. Or Maybe Lovecraft was just too late to the game for his creations to be considered classics. At least SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU tries to rectify that.
The book respectfully uses its source material to tell a rather simplistic story about a monster unable to go to bed because he’s (ironically) afraid of monsters. The story itself is fairly straightforward, but I’ll get more into that later. Where the book really succeeds is in its unwillingness to compromise the characters for which it’s based. Even though it’s for children, the story embraces its Lovecraft roots in a way other “horror” bedtime stories wouldn’t. That isn’t to say it’s scary. It just doesn’t change Lovecraft’s creations to fit a more mainstream audience, a decision many creators might’ve made. One such example is that Cthulhu sleeps underwater in R’lyeh (a word even harder to pronounce than the titular character’s name).
Now, I’ve actually read children’s books with much more interesting and engaging plots than SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU. A part of me even wanted something a little more complex, but while it doesn’t contain a whole lot in the narrative department, SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU is a tale its young readers could actually relate to. I wouldn’t call it a moral story, but it has a message that kids can take with them well after the last page. That’s always a plus for a children’s book and is sometimes lost when authors try to fill their plot with as much fun as possible. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s about going to sleep, which any parent knows is the best thing to read before bedtime.
Simple plot aside, SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU delivers on its promise with great artwork to match. For any geek turned parent looking for something different to read to their little ones, SWEET DREAMS, CTHULHU is a definitely a good choice.
Created by Jason Ciaramella & Greg Murphy
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