The Arkham Horror novella for “investigator” Silas Marsh teams up the alienated sea dog with Miskatonic University librarian Abigail Foreman. She’s in the throes of a manic episode trained on apocalyptic oracles in a sixteenth-century tome. Marsh is of course kin to the Innsmouth Marshes (of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth”), and the Deep Gate of the title unsurprisingly proves to be at Devil Reef off the Massachusetts coast.
Author Chris Jackson is an old hand at nautical storytelling and fantasy, but an admitted greenhorn when it comes to horror writing, and this experience base shows in the final product. While there are a few apt touches for purposes of horror and the yog-sothothery is all faithful enough, it’s more a quest-and-challenge sort of story than a genuinely creepy one. It is a fast read, as the books in this series generally are, and it does go a little ways to fleshing out Silas as a black sheep of the hybrid Innsmouthers.
The full-color “documentary” pages at the back of the volume show as much variety as these have in any of the other books, including correspondence, news clippings, a medical report, a scientific abstract, and a page or two from the Prophesiae Profana. The correspondence, while designed with appropriate old fonts for manual cursive and typewriting, is all anachronistically set up with headers in e-mail format: “From: … To: … Subject: …” above the body text. Also, the pages from the old tome are in English, although the story described them as being in Latin. Still, all this material does provide some entertaining supplementary perspectives on the main story, particularly the Arkham Advertiser story commending the “fine citizens” of the Marsh family.
The Silas Marsh promotional cards for Arkham Horror: The Card Game introduce this character to the game for the first time. I expect him to be fun to play, and I have already designed a deck for him to join with Ursula Downs in my first go at the latest campaign cycle The Forgotten Age.