Short Story Review: “Baby Rhyme Time: Youngsters Enjoy Initiation at Innsmouth Public Library” by Deborah Walker

4 of 5 stars.

This very short story hilariously mimics a small town newspaper’s local item–or possibly a folksy public newsletter–right down to the cringe-worthy, colon-inclusive title. Equally impressive is the gumption to use a light tone when building in the Lovecraft universe.

Innsmouth, MA is best known as the location of the dysmorphic fishing community in the which the residents start to resemble eels, to speak in ancient unknown tongues and to worship Cthulhu, an ancient horror of a god from the oceanic depths with a trademark squid-head. The locals slough off their humanity as easily as they do their melanin-deprived human skin.

The article [story] documents the first gathering of the under-2 reading group, in which the storytellers introduce locally-specific folktales and chants which the toddlers take to immediately despite not being in English. The translated rhyme is subtly chilling in its implications. Same, too, with the use of the word Initiation in the title of the piece:

Peek-a-boo, Ancient One
Great Old One of the sea.
In R’yleh
Deep and silent.
Awaken me. Awaken me. Awaken me.
Hiding still.
You see me. You see me. You see me.

This tale appears in Whispers of the Abyss 2: The Horrors That Were and Shall Be edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through I’ve previously reviewed this author’s brilliant “Beyond the Turning Orrery”, a speculative steampunk tale unlike anything I’ve ever read but reminiscent of a Miyazaki film in imagery.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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