Cult of the Spider Queen
An Arkham Horror Novel
by S A Sidor
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 07 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 24 Nov 2021
Aconyte Books, Aconyte
When Arkham Advertiser reporter Andy van Nortwick receives a mysterious film reel in the mail, with a simple note: “Maude Brion is very much alive!”, he steps onto a path which will lead him to the brink of madness. Brion, the famous actress and film director, vanished a year ago on an ill-fated expedition into the Amazon rainforest, delving into the legend of the Spider Queen. Thrilled by the prospect of his big break, Nortwick swings the funds to launch a rescue mission. He gathers a team of explorers and a keen folklorist to bring back Brion and cement his reputation. But deep in the Amazon jungle, the boundaries between intrepid adventurers, dreamers, and deranged fanatics blur inside a web of terror.
A Note From the Publisher
“Superbly written, deftly plotted, and imbued with Sidor’s absolutely phenomenal imagination and inherent understanding of the decaying, sumptuous décor of Jazz Age Arkham that hides a terrifying underside, The Last Ritual is one of the most enjoyable and memorable occult horror thrillers that I have read in a long time.”
– SciFi and Fantasy Reviewer
“As unsettling and disturbing as anything that Lovecraft himself wrote… a complex, gripping roller coaster ride.”
– Amazing Stories
“Sidor is a prince of darkness, steeped in the noir tradition and not giving an inch. He is also bountifully talented.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“A master of the unsettling, and each twist is more grisly and unexpected than the last.”
– Publishers Weekly starred review
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
Cult of the Spider Queen is a rip-roaring 1920s set story that mostly takes place in the depths of the mysterious Amazonian jungle. Here, the fabled Spider Queen lives and junior reporter, Andy, of the Arkham Advertiser has snagged his way into a journey there, hoping to find the story that will make his name, if he can locate missing starlet, Maude Brion. S.A.Sidor writes beautifully. The story flows well, the language and descriptions of that time are spot on and as an arachnophobie, the scene where there there are literally thousands of spiders made my skin crawl. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery/horror tale, but I’d rather hoped for more of a showdown at the end between the spider queen and Andy and his crew. We kept getting glimpses of this spider, but I’d wanted more, but that’s just my personal preference and there may be enough for others.
Ah, spiders. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s lot of ‘em in “Cult of the Spider Queen”, the latest skincrawling story in the Arkham Horror series, so arachnophobes beware. I should know, I am one. A mysterious package takes plucky Arkham Advertiser reporter Andy van Nortwick to the jungles of the Amazon on the trail of missing actress and movie director, Maude Brion, who vanished a year ago but is rumoured to be alive. What Andy and his team of explorers find there will drive them to the edge of sanity and take the reader along for the ride. This is the first novel from the Arkham Horror range that I’ve read and if it’s indicative of the quality of the other books then I’ll be reading them ASAP. Author S.A.Sidor captures the era beautifully and writes so well that this book will definitely not be the one to make me love spiders. In one scene there are thousands of them which will test the resolve of even the most ardent arachnid lover. And, yes, there really is a Spider Queen, and she’s big, but Sidor keeps her mostly in the shadows which is very effective. There is also a strong Lovecraftian vibe which is a constant, oppressive presence in the background of the story. The characters are well-rounded and believable and the story is perfectly paced. Chapters are short and snappy making the book a real page-turner. From the gloriously schlocky (in a good way) title to the exacting 1920s period details, “Cult of the Spider Queen” is a note-perfect, pulpy rollercoaster that reminds me of those weekly cinema serials back in the day such as “Flash Gordon” and King of the Rocketmen”, and it would be awesome if it was developed now for TV or a movie. This book is a must for horror fans and masochistic spider-haters alike.
I loved this book it was atmospheric and creepy and just a good read, writing, characters and story were all good, an enjoyable read
Aconyte to me, over the last half dozen books or so, has become synonymous with Arkham Horror. The card and board games feature Lovecraftian horror taking place in or around Arkham during the roaring 20's and the authors at Aconyte have perfectly encapsulated that in prose form. So, when I saw that they announced a new book taking place in the Amazon forest with SA Sidor at the helm, who previously wrote The Last Ritual, I was immediately interested. Now, before I begin this review I would like to say that I was given a review copy, but I have still pre-ordered a physical copy of this book so my money is on the line just as yours is. I have been an Arkham Horror board and card game player for 3+ years, and a Lovecraft reader for about 15. As previously mentioned; Aconyte and SA Sidor have previously done Arkham Horror justice, and Cult of the Spider Queen keeps that track record going. It starts with an actress and her camera crew becoming lost in the Amazon jungle and a reporter, Andy, finding a film reel and note saying that the actress is still alive. What follows is an Indiana Jones adventure with Lovecraftian horror beautifully mixed in. Andy goes to the Amazon Jungle to get the story of his career with a group of explorers (including an Arkham Horror fan favorite) and quickly realizes this is not the trip they were expecting, and maybe his crew isn't either. I will state that an Arkham Horror adventure taking place in the Amazon, with a particular main character has an easily predictable associating campaign and Lovecraft story. I will also state that The Cult of the Spider Queen does not fall in to that easily predictable story line. Sidor blends multiple aspects of the Lovecraft mythos with the Arkham Horror universe and creates a sense of dread that will make you feel that something is watching you just out of your periphery, and unfortunately for our protagonists that is exactly the case. Sidor and Aconyte do not disappoint with the latest addition to the Arkham Horror universe. Sidor is obviously someone well acquainted with Lovecraft and the Arkham Horror games and knows how to use them to blend together a very haunting story that will give Lovecraft and Arkham Horror fans nightmares. And there are spiders. So...many...spiders.
I loved this book- its everything i wanted, an extremely adventurous story, 3 dimensional characters, and generally and off putting antagonist! I really love the main character so so much because he’s just so relatable. His sense of adventure and drive to go on throughout the story even though he’s inexperienced was inspiring!
[Some spoilers ahead!] As a big fan of cosmic horror, I was looking forwards to this read. The name immediately intrigued me - I wanted to know who this "Spider Queen" was, I also adored the drawn art style of the cover. Both of these elements in combination made me excited to begin the book. Now that I've finished reading, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! The beginning hooked me, because I wanted to know if there was an otherworldly being compelling Andy to look within the box, beginning his adventure. There are many moments throughout the story where you wonder, "is this REALLY what the character is thinking, or has someone else put this thought in their head?" which is genuinely unnerving to think about. I loved this, because it was creepy without being blatantly so. In all, I'd say the book did a fantastic job of being a horror novel. It makes me wonder what truly occurred, which is what I love with cosmic horror; that feeling of uncertainty for what was real. For the most part, I liked the characters. I really liked how it switched perspectives between people (and creatures) every chapter. It stopped things from feeling stale. I do wish the Spider Queen herself, or her subordinate, were fleshed out more; but on the other hand, I'm still thinking about the book BECAUSE I wonder who she is. I think we got a sufficient amount of backstory for most of the characters, except for Ashley and his crew. That group only showed up a handful of times, and didn't really feel like a threat. I forgot about them until they popped up near the end. My favourite part was the setting. The author did a great job of portraying the otherworld. The time distortion was incredibly cool, and the descriptions of monsters was just detailed enough to be scary. I've always loved jungles and forests. The idea of one being completely quiet is eerie. All in all, I loved the book! I can't wait to read more by this publisher, and books in the Arkham Horror series. I've given it 5 stars because I'm still thinking about it, and I'm excited to recommend it to friends. It was a short read, but a scary one. It left me with so many questions, but enough answers that I feel satisfied.
Review: Cult of the Spider Queen, An Arkham Horror novel by S.A. Sidor As always I want to start by thanking Netgalley and Aconyte for providing me with this e-Arc in exchange for a fair and honest review. Previous to this title I have also read The Last Ritual An Arkham Horror Novel by S A Sidor which was fantastic but I had actually discovered S A Sidor with his Fury from The Tomb and The Beat of Nightfall Lodge. Sidor is fantastic at what it does with his descriptive and sometimes visceral writing style that suits the world of Arkham Horror. In his latest novel we follow a rag tag team facing an ancient horror deep in the Amazon jungle which spins a web of nightmares to ensnare adventurers and explorers alike along with their souls. Be ready to have your skin crawl as this tale of cosmic dread entraps you in its web. Andy van Nortwick is a reporter of the Arkah Advertiser who dreams of having that one big break. He may eventually regret it when he receives a mysterious film reel in the mail with a simple note within; “Maude Brion is very much alive!”. Sensing his big break is just around the corner Andy steps onto a path which will lead him to the brink of madness. The famous actress and film director, Brion, vanished a year ago on an ill-fated expedition into the Amazon rainforest, delving into the Spider Queen legend. Thrilled by the prospects, Nortwick swings the funds to launch a rescue mission. Gathering a little bit of a mix match team of a keen folklorist and a team of explorers to bring back Brion and cement his reputation. But deep in the Amazon jungle, the boundaries between dreamers, intrepid adventurers and deranged fanatics can blur and become intermingled in a web of terror. Once again I will not spoil much else of the plot of the novel. Needless to say this is not a good read for the Arachnophobia sufferer, unless you want to really push and maybe even punish yourself. Thankfully I have come to somewhat admire the spider (not to the extant of the fanatics, no cults will be springing up in the UK any time soon!) so I found it an interesting premise for the focus of a cosmic horror. It’s no secret if you have read any of Sidor’s other works that he is a master at describing things that give a sense of unease or the uncanny be it in old evil Mummy’s to evil Surrealist Artists you are sure to be on the edge of your seat and maybe feel the odd shudder. So with a topic like ‘Spider Queens’ you know it’s going to be good. Again I do not want to spoil anything but as the film is already mentioned I feel it’s safe to say. The description of this section was near perfection. While staying in prose form Sidor invokes the actions and shots of the film so much so that it was almost like I was watching the film myself not just reading it on the page. I’ve only seen one other author do this and do it well which is Stephan Graham Jones, although there may be others, and it is an amazing and almost mesmerising skill. Generally all readers have good imaginations, we need them of course. But the way this particular piece was written was so visual but it didn’t just tell. It wasn’t a ‘this happens and now that happens’ it was written perfectly. Honestly, it was one thing that really stood out. On top of this the characters are fantastic. Each one has their own well developed personality and traits that work well and create a sense of believability. I was also a little too excited for the Percy Fawcett references since I currently live near where he lived. It also added a sense of reality to the story, grounding it in the time period it is set and making it more believable and arguably more creepy. I might admire Spiders but the idea of a cult or large cosmic horrors living in the Amazon is not exactly something that instills a sense of joy. All in all though the novel is a fantastic creepy (and crawly) read. It builds the perfect balance of tension and suspense while keeping you intrigued and wanting more. A must read for fans of horror, cosmic horror, rip-roaring adventure, Lovecraftian inspired work or spiders in general! The ebook of this title will be available worldwide on December the 7th 2021 with the US paperback following the 7th December 2021. For the UK the revised release date is the 17th February 2022 but it most definitely will be worth the wait and I already have it on preorder! So don’t delay and do the same. Some of the places you can get your hands the ebook include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Indigo. For the paperbacks there is Amazon (including but not limited to US, Canada, Germany, Italy and the UK), as well as Barnes and Nobel, Indiebound, Waterstones, Blackwells and the Book Depository among others. S.A Sidor is the Author of four dark crime thrillers and more recently two splendid supernatural-pulp adventures, Fury from The Tomb and The Beast of Nightfall Lodge. He lives near Chicago with his family. Aconyte Books are the novel division of Asmodee Entertainment. Asmodee Entertainment is based in an amazing building in Nottingham, England. The Star Brewery opened in 1852, producing beer for Shipstones until 1991.
This type of book isn’t my normal go to, I tend to stick to murder mystery types but I’ve been challenging myself to step out my comfort zone and this book done exactly that. Sidor has done an amazing job at setting the scene throughout this book. I generally felt immersed in the surroundings and was able to perfectly picture the rainforest and what the characters were going through. It even got to the point where I felt so itchy and fidgety as if I had spiders crawling all over me, insane. Sidor also managed to make me feel connected to the characters, I started to really care for the main characters and even started to worry for them when things were going wrong. This along with the way each characters personalities were shown throughout the book just helped with the overall immersion of the book. I read this book in e-book format on my iPad, so I can’t speak for the physical copy, but this book is larger than most I have read. When I first opened the book on my iPad it showed 787 pages, which for a slow reader is scary. However the chapters were short, and anyone who has read my previous blog posts will know I LOVE short chapters. For me, short chapters makes it a lot easier to read more in one sitting. Its like when you’re binging a show on Netflix, another 20 min episode is nothing so you stick it on and before you know it it’s six episodes later. Well that’s the same with short chapters, you think ‘aw ok just one more as its small’ and before you know if you’ve read 10! As much as I loved this book, there were a few things that just didn’t make sense to me. A character named Ashely Lott is introduced early on when the main team make it so the Amazon, but then he is forgotten about until right near the end. And even when he is brought back I just don’t see why. Personally I think Ashley Lott should have been more involved throughout the story, or just completely left out. He just seems a tad unnecessary to the overall story, and I wouldn’t miss him. Also, I feel like the ending didn’t offer up much of a conclusion. A lot happens in the final chapters, in a tad rushed form, and the ending just seems very abrupt in a way. I would have liked a but more of a story about what happened once they returned home, but instead I was just left a bit unsatisfied. Overall, Cult of the Spider Queen was a very captivating and different read for me. The mystery of it all mixed with the slightly surreal nature of the book was fascinating. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone for this book, and I urge people to go and read it once its published - 7 December 2021.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Aconyte Books for an advanced copy of this horror novel. Take an unfamiliar setting, the Amazon of the 1920's, complete with abandoned rubber plantations and strange creatures of the forests prowling just out of eyesight. Add in ghost ships, large spiders magicians, a film crew and eldritch horror and you have the perfect under the covers read in Cult of the Spider Queen by S. A. Sidor. Based on the game system Arkham Horror, these is the fourth book that takes place in the setting. I was unfamiliar with this iteration, I used to play Call of Cthulhu back in the day, but you don't need to be familiar with the game to enjoy the story, which is quite pulpy and good. The setting is like I said quite pulpy and different. The characters are all different and fully formed, including the female characters which in most pulps would be screaming in fear, or femme fatales. One is the leader of the group and another is an anthropologist with a secret, but all are different, and well developed. The story starts with a film can, which is unique, delivered to the local Arkham newspaper, where it is intercepted by a young reporter desperate for a break. The film shows a missing female film director and some strange goings on in the Amazon. Soon an expedition is launched to find the director and her crew, and maybe some treasure along the way. Strange horrific things ensue. Real rip-roaring pulpy goodness. However unlike the pulps where horrors are seen, there are real consequences for peering into the Dreamlands, which is more Lovecraftian then boy's own adventure stories. As I wrote, I have not read the other books in this series, and I feel that I am missing out on some really good stories. Not just a good adventure tale, but for fans of Lovecraft and the mythos he created, minus the racism. A very good tale.
I do not know how it did it, but this was like a found footage film in book form and love almost every minute of it! The story starts with our young and eager reporter Andy looking for the story of a life time after he finds a mysterious package from the Amazon in his office’s mail room. From there he finds a film depicting a famous actress who went missing and it turns into this big hunt for the Maude and the Spider Queen she was on the hunt for. I’ll admit the book did have some slow parts or parts that dragged on a little longer than they needed to be, but I always found myself going back for more because it would hook me with a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter or just an odd detail of the rainforest and what was happening to our characters. Overall, if you like horror, especially cosmic horror, I urge you to give this one a try! It’s giving me old Hollywood horror vibes in the best way! I did receive this book for free in exchange for an honest review! #netgalley #cultofthespiderqueen
Cult of the Spider Queen will never win awards as a literary novel, but it's a rollicking fun read. Think King Kong but with big spiders and no New York or Faye Wray. After a young reporter sneaks a mystery package out of the mail room, he heads to the Amazon to find a missing woman filmmaker and giant spiders. Yikes! You know how you go to horror movies and shout, "Don't go in that room!" Spider Queen makes you wonder why they went down that tributary, why they went on that warship that smelled bad, why they went into that shrine and on and on. But, it wouldn't be much of a horror story if all the characters thought things out. Don't go near that cave! Oh shoot, they did it anyway. Lots of bodies wrapped up in webs, creepy kidnappers with horns, even a trip to the moon. And spiders! Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review an eArc of Cult of the Spider Queen.