Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
Earthworm Gods II: Deluge, by Brian Keene, picks up where Earthworm Gods (formerly titled Conqueror Worms) left off. The rain continues to fall and the last remaining vestiges of humanity continue to be consumed by the rising waters. In the wake of the world humans once called home, alien monstrosities have emerged from their slumber to wreak havoc on those unfortunate enough to witness the apocalypse.
Having survived the events of the previous book, Sarah and Kevin have retreated to a ranger lookout station high in the West Virginia mountainside. Here they will meet others, each with their own stories of unspeakable horrors, as they watch the world they once knew swallowed up by ocean and a fungus known only as the white fuzz. However, there still may be hope in the form of a magician. He cannot save the world, but he may have a means of escape if only they can reach it in time.
New creatures, such as starfish men and carnivorous flying fish, add to an already impressive mix of elder beings, mermen, and giant worms. For fans of H. P. Lovecraft and cosmic horror, Earthworm Gods II: Deluge does not disappoint. It retains a modern writing sensibility with the pulp horror feel of the 1920s and 30s.
Keene uses the book to expand upon his own pantheon of the thirteen elder beings bent upon consuming the world. To this end, he references many of his other works and weaves their stories into the framework of Earthworm Gods II: Deluge. You needn’t have read these tales to appreciate the novel, but those who have are awarded with some interesting discourse.
However, it is hard to recommend Earthworm Gods II: Deluge to those who have not read Earthworm Gods. The book is a direct continuation of the events in the first book. Many of the characters are new, but the narrative picks up where the last book ended. Hence, to have any idea as to what is going on, you need to have followed the narrative up to this point.
Moreover, while the book is titled Earthworm Gods II: Deluge, Behemoth and his worms are less of a factor in this book. Instead much of the emphasis is on Leviathan (Cthulhu) and those that inhabit the Great Deep. This is not a bad thing. Most would consider Leviathan the more fascinating of the two horrors, but it makes the title a bit misleading.
Fans of Keene will find Earthworm Gods II: Deluge fun reading, but neophytes are better served with The Rising or Ghoul which are superior standalone novels absent the myriad of references to other works. Overall, Earthworm Gods II is good, not great. The continuation will make fans of the earlier novel happy by expanding upon the concepts of the first book and delivering something close to a conclusion. But, it’s not Keene’s best work.