Reviews

Providence Compendium by Alan Moore

mc_j_ho's review

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5.0

Unspeakably great.

supernovaesque's review

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adventurous dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

Builds to a fine, terrifying finish with lots of scares along the way. I've read lots of Moore, but this one stands tall as a measured work of research, fan service, and just plain old good storytelling. Definitely recommended, and holds up well rereading it a year later.

violet_hayes's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

 If you're a writer, especially of horror, I highly recommend Providence. 
This book has layers that peel back and whisper secrets to the reader with an open mind. I didn't know very much about cosmic horror -- never cared for Lovecraft even -- but there is so much love for the genre and its history packed into this story that I found myself taking breaks between chapters to research the names, titles, and idioms as they came up. And I'm so glad I did! Robert Chambers, Lord Dunsany, and Sidney Sime are just a few of the artists I gained a new respect for after reading Providence. 
Beyond its value as an historical study, the story is both fun and frightening. Certain aspects of it are disgusting and difficult to stomach, but there's also a subtlety to the characterization that creates this wonderful mysterious atmosphere that only thickens after the first chapter.

jammasterjamie's review

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3.0

It's great to have the whole shebang of Providence in one handy and affordably priced collection, but I fear that many readers will suffer thanks to its lack of including The Courtyard and Neonomicon as the ending makes no sense without the context they provide. Outside of that, the Lovecraft backdrop that Moore uses as his setting for this exploration of the duality of nature and the underlying darkness of our lives and culture provides the perfect creepy atmosphere to bring forth the hidden truths he wants to illuminate.

sanrodsara's review

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challenging dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

I don't know what I was expecting from this graphic novel, but it wasn't this. Lovely art style and that's the only reason it gets 2 stars instead of 1.

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mattait's review against another edition

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3.0

Hm. A tough one this. One that probably requires a second reading to really decide whether it succeeds or not. Thoughts on a first reading then: it's dense. Jam packed with Lovecraftian lore and literary history, unfriendly to the casual reader looking for a solid horror yarn. On that count I'm not sure it succeeds, unlike the much shorter and tighter Neonomicon which packs a real gut punch, grotesque and unpleasant as that is.

Some of that may be down to Jacen Burrows accomplished but uninspired art which is great at setting place and the deliberate pace, but lacks the imaginative flair to pull off the "cosmic horror" - his renderings of Lovecraft's "unknowable" seem all too known and familiar at this point, which highlights the problem of most visual representations of the lore; without a truly deft touch and/or idiosyncratic vision to match Lovecraft's own, any depiction will fall well short of "vast, cosmic mystery" and belly flop into horror movie cliche. Lovecraft is often criticised for his reliance on vague adjectives, endless synonyms for "unfathomable" adding up to (for some) an authorial shrug: "well, you know, our pathetic human language just isn't up to the task, here, try 'indescribable corruption of natural law' on for size!", but of course he knew what he was doing, leaving it up to the reader themselves to figure out, or not.

Luckily Moore's writing and plotting is able to pick up some of that slack, nicely depicting the protagonist's growing disorientation while it feeds our own with some genuinely disquieting revelations, and one revolting pivotal scene which manages to cover every point on the perversity scale and a few even it didn't quite stretch to.

Of course Moore has some big ideas to tackle here, his major thesis apparently being that Lovecraftian lore and its offshoots represent a new, modern, North American (U.S.) folklore encompassing all that culture's ugliness, prejudice, and contradiction, and I suppose the buried fear of its ultimate futility. Pretty invigorating stuff! Most of this is spelt out in the protagonist's diary entries at the end of each (comic) chapter, and it's here that I think I had my biggest problem with the book. The effect of these entries for me on this first read was to bring the narrative to a shuddering halt, blowing up any tension and momentum earned in the more traditional comic book section preceding. They're a mixture of recap and expansion, very expository, and they often feel redundant, even vaguely condescending (true, this is one of the protag's characteristics) in that they sometimes feel as if Moore doesn't trust the reader to cotton on to what he's attempting, even though much of that is latent in the main narrative. And where it isn't, I couldn't help thinking well, why isn't it?

Which circles me back round to the beginning, and my feeling that a second read might be necessary to decide what purpose these interludes serve (Moore never seems anything but deliberate), and whether they work in that context to deepen the narrative. I definitely have a preference for horror in which the subtext (if you want to look) is buried within the story - I doubt Lovecraft himself had any idea at all of what he was doing (certainly that's Moore's contention in Providence) beyond writing the stories he was able to write by way of his own peculiar pathologies and prejudices, and that's their power for better or worse. I don't naturally incline myself towards Providence's kind of metatextual tom-fuckery, interesting as it is, so I lay that down as context for this review. Still, I am going to read this again.

mizar's review

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challenging dark mysterious reflective tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

I discovered Lovecraft in the beginning of my 20's through a translated collection of his early short stories. I was at the time at a transition point, where my interest in the fantastic was emerging and having exhausted the limited offerings translated in my native language, I was slowly beginning to read whatever I could get my hands on in English.

Lovecraft's writings shaped my perceptions of Horror with his long winding descriptions, his refusal to name things plainly, always pitting the rationality of his protagonists against the unnamed and their insistence to not see that which is right there before their eyes right until the final pages where they are driven either to death or mad . In his world, the universe is cold and uncaring, we live our lives ignorant of the horrors lurking just outside the light and this is for the best because there can be no winning.

Moore's offerings on the other hand flesh out the horror, bringing it forward in graphic detail. Especially the 2 previous stories in the series, 'The Courtyard' as well as 'Neonomicon" feel like a slap in the face! 'Providence' is much more subdued, with the horror elements building up gradually and at least in my perspective requiring a good knowledge of Lovecraft's body of work to be able to be appreciated in full.

Finally, Moore has accomplished something unique here. he has managed to tie up Lovecraft's dreamland cycle with his Mythos stories in a consistent narrative, while at the same time demonstrating how books, language and pop-culture in general shape our perspectives and the world around us. 

cybergoths's review

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4.0

Enjoyable, although the faux-handwriting sections are challenging to read. I need to revisit the Neonomicon to remind myself of the interlinks.

razielsky's review

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adventurous challenging dark mysterious tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

rebus's review

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5.0

While I have never had an interest in much horror, particularly the works of Lovecraft, this is a literary thriller in the truest sense and one of Moore's great masterworks. Moore explores many fascinating tropes in horror, casting his main character in the role of the investigator that is unwittingly entwined in the very tale he is investigating, illustrating it brilliantly via his diary entries that follow each chapter, 'questioning even the existence of identity as a phenomenon' as Robert puts it. 

The artwork is as brilliant as the writing, with an epic sort of Escher like quality at times, and not shying away from the gory or sexual elements of the literature that inspired it. If only the early purveyors of this stuff wrote as well as Moore, who tells us through these tales that the written word is the true magic of the world.