A friend of mine — Michael Kaptein — recently published his first book, ‘De Schaduw van de Piramide’. I’m reviewing it here, even though I’m both biased, and it’s in Dutch. Because, you know, I can.
Gerard Adriaanszoon Cornelissen is a spoiled Dutch student of archaeology, born in 1872 in Haarlem (that’s the Dutch city, not the New York district). He wastes his time sexually harassing the housemaids in his family home, whoring, and drinking.
After years of study, South America and the archaeological mysteries there grab Gerard’s interest and he manages to finance a journey to the Amazon. He goes in search of the treasures guarded by a tribe of natives called the Soggotho.
Gerard finds things in the jungle that he had not never expected were even possible.
A Lovecraftian Journal
‘De Shaduw van de Piramide’ is written as a journal. It starts off with a warning from the author, Gerard, and then details his journey to the Amazon.
Both the time period of the story, the way the story unfolds, and the writing style have a Lovecraftian vibe. Of course, this story is in Dutch, and not in archaic English. However, the atmosphere is brimming with ominous tension. You see Gerard slowly walk closer to his doom. You know he will survive, given his writing, but you also know something very terrible will happen.
This is of course where Lovecraft shone: the feeling of psychological dread permeated many of his stories. ‘De Shaduw van de Piramide’ follows that style, if not the exact execution.
Gerard as a character is both a product of his time, but also somebody who is clearly capable of change. His older self, who narrates the story, is not the same as the young man he writes about. This makes for an intriguing question: what can change a person so completely? A question the story eventually answers.
Usually I write these blog posts with hardly a thought about the creator of the work actually reading this review. For example, I doubt the people behind the Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance read this blog. Michael, though, will probably read this review. So, Michael, hi, hope you agree with this review.
As I wrote above, the build-up of the book and its style are great. You feel like you’re in the hands of somebody who understands their craft. That does create high expectations for the end of Gerard’s journey. And without spoiling what he finds deep in the Amazon, I will admit I felt it did not quite live up to the build-up.
Yes, the climax of the story was good, but I’d hoped for more. This story is well worth reading, but after seeing — for example — the interesting places Charles Stross took Lovecraftian legend, I felt more could have been done with this.
That said, ‘De Shaduw van de Piramide’ is a good book and if you read Dutch and like horror, go buy it.