The classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak has been parodied before, but rarely as successfully as in Ken Hite’s Where the Deep Ones Are. Ostensibly a childrens’ book, Deep Ones is a story of a boy who rebels and is banished to his room in punishment, subsequently discovering a hidden world that calls to him enchantingly.
Instead of Max, we now have Bobby, a boy who loves to eat fish. He also wears a frog-like costume with several tentacles dangling from the face, and it’s mentioned more than once in the text that he has a cousin named Larry Marsh. This boy is well on his way to becoming a Deep One himself, which parallels the story of Shadow Over Innsmouth, on which the actual tale of Where the Deep Ones Are is partly based.
Max travels in a boat on a magical river to Innsmouth, where he meets an old drunk that tries to warn him off. When Bobby mentions his cousin Larry Marsh the old man leaves, having “got skeert.” Bobby turns to the hotel for a meal that consists of bad bread, bad soup and even bad water – but lots and lots of fish. Bobby grows sleepy thanks to his full belly, and it’s then that the Deep Ones come for him.
The illustrations by Andy Hopp are perfect; they pay clear, loving homage to Maurice Sendak’s original work from WTWTA, while at the same time maintaining their own squamous integrity. Hopp was an excellent choice as illustrator for this book. After the first pass, go back again and study each picture more carefully; the level of small detail is impressive, and Hopp manages to sneak a number of Lovecraftian in-jokes into the backgrounds. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Cthulhoid salt and pepper shakers.
Where the Deep Ones Are is an amusing book that will comfort the soul of any true Lovecraft devotee. Perhaps a bit frightening for younger kids, (although the same was said of Where the Wild Things Are in its day) Where the Deep Ones Are is a loving tribute, both to Howard Phillips Lovecraft and to Maurice Sendak and his best-known work. Kenneth Hite and Andy Hopp are to be commended for producing such a delightful tome. Now in its second printing, Where the Deep Ones Are is a must-read.