When Harrison Harrison (aka Harrison Squared) and his absent-minded mother head to Dunnsmouth, he doesn’t realize this isn’t the first time he’s been to town. His mother is dedicated to exploring giant squid off the coast of town, and Harrison finds himself enrolled at the creeptastic Dunnsmouth High. Creepy teachers encourage students to make nets and swim class is held in a watery pit in a school basement more designed for ritual than a pool. Daily chanting in a non-human language is typical in the school and a creature from the sea just might be stealing Harrison’s comic books when he’s not looking. The tight-lipped citizens do everything they can to get rid of Harrison, but after his mother disappears off the coast during one of her investigations, he shall not be moved. With one leg and a little help from a ghost, a sea monster and a girl not unlike Wednesday Addams, Harrison must discover the inner workings of the town and find a way to get back his mother. His loving and carefree Aunt comes to take care of him, but Harrison is embroiled in enough mystery to last a lifetime, and if he’s not careful it will be a short one.
I’m going to stop being objective for a moment and let you know that I loved this book to pieces. Harrison is smart and quick, without being far too advanced for a teenager. Sure he speaks more than one language, but in the context of his parentage it makes sense. His missing leg is endearing as well as a great plot device for the twists and turns of the story. Author Daryl Gregory weaves fantastic and truly interesting side characters; Harrison’s aunt is on the run from a former lover in New York, Lucy’s parents met with unfortunate circumstances and the Lub is the comicbook-reading under sea sidekick we all would love to have. These characters mixed with some terrifying villains had me reading long into the night.
While the book is set in high school, there are many times where Harrison Squared becomes an adult read. While none of the situations get too intensely sexual, a good deal of it is alluded to. The creepiest villain, The Scrimshander, carves bones with portraits of humanoid creatures and traps their souls inside. Sensitive readers will likely get the heebie jeebies, but fans of Lovecraft will enjoy the plentiful references and allusions to works like The Call of Cthulu and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
Overall, Harrison Squared is a satisfying read that will have you sneaking a flashlight under the blankets to finish just a few more pages before bed.
Harrison Squared is now available from Tor Books.