The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror & the Macabre
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The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror & the Macabre

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  19,039 ratings  ·  409 reviews
This is the collection that true fans of horror fiction have been waiting for: sixteen of H.P. Lovecraft's most horrifying visions, including Lovecraft's masterpiece, THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME--the shocking revelation of the mysterious forces that hold all mankind in their fearsome grip.
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Published October 29th 2002 by Ballantine Books Random House (first published 1963)
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Ayla Zachary
H. P. Lovecraft is a peculiar writer. His stories are extremely predictable. The first-person narrator, a sober man of reason and science, will halfway through the story start noticing something odd about his surroundings: "It was almost as though [horrifying revelation from the end of the story], but I knew that could not be the case." And then, at the end, when all his reason has been denied, "It was then I knew the terrible truth: [horrifying revelation that we all guessed thirty pages ago]!"...more
Jonathan

It was only last year that I discovered the joy of short stories thanks to Anton Chekhov and Edgar Allan Poe (although it seems longer since time is a "great ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff"). Since then I have been interested in the great short story authors of all time (as well as writing my own short stories), among whom Lovecraft is often mentioned. So I was very optimistic about this volume of stories when I started to read it - particularly in regards to the 'infamous Cthulhu Mytho...more
Apatt
“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn”
Try saying that backward (or forward, which is equally challenging).

H.P. Lovecraft is definitely the granddaddy of “Cosmic Horror” and Weird Fiction. He is often mentioned in science fiction / fantasy / horror related web sites and forums, not to mention myriad other kinds of web sites. Reading fans raving about his works and seeing the numerous fan arts online make many of us genre fiction enthusiasts want to start getting into his fiction to...more
Adam
Beautifully written horror that many imitate (ahem, Stephen King) but few can pull off. The real horror of Lovecraft isn't the scariness of the monsters or the gore, but concept that we are pointless blips of dust on the gaping maw of a chaotic, ageless, indifferent universe that constantly destroys itself for no reason at all. Each story reminds you of how puny and ignorant you are but that's a good thing because every character finds out a little too much and goes crazy, gets eaten, sacrificed...more
Werner
May 26, 2008 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of "horror" and of horrific science fiction
Shelves: science-fiction
Not well-appreciated in his own time, reclusive and eccentric New England writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft became a household word in the world of weird fiction after his death. His prose style was greatly influenced by Poe, and like Poe, he preferred natural causes for his horror ("supernatural," in one of the alternate titles listed above for this collection, means "uncanny" or "unearthly," not supernatural per se). While his genre was science fiction, he was wholly outside the optimistic and...more
Felicia
Well, I don't watch a lot of horror films, but now I see where they all rip off everything from: Lovecraft!

I didn't read EVERY one of these stories, they got a bit repetitive after a while, but the stories were chilling and seeing how influential the storytelling is on modern horror is really interesting. Fascinating how much suspense can be put into a 10 page story.

Yes, I had nightmares of tentacle-things after I finished. Don't make fun of me.
Bill  Kerwin

I know, I know . . . the diction is unnecessarily latinate and the prose is frequently overwrought, piling up the adjectives like "shambling" and "eldritch," to the point where certain passages are laugh-out-loud funny. And yet . . . Lovecraft has fashioned from the New World's New England a land so very old, a world in touch with realities so alien, that Christianity--albeit peripherally present--is completely irrelevant, and mere sanity--the best one can reasonably hope for--depends upon a few...more
Ted
These are great horror stories dating back close to a century now, from one of the stranger American fiction writers. The fictional worlds that Lovecraft created are located in temporally shifting realms which intersect with everyday reality in usually horrific ways, inhabited by ancient creatures having no relation to the life forms familiar to us. The stories generally involve an interaction between the “other” (these worlds and creatures), and a human being who has somehow come into contact w...more
Mike
Lovecraft is one of the writers people tend to either obsess about or dismiss without a second glance. His writings vary tremendously, in terms of quality. Some of it is really horrible, actually, with absurdly "purple" prose and overwrought hysteria. But there are also really incredible stories among his work too, which conjure up fascinating mythology and alien races, as well leaving utterly disturbing images in the reader's imagination. "The Dreams in the Witch House" is an example of this se...more
Keely
"There are my 'Poe' pieces and my 'Dunsany pieces' – but alas – where are any Lovecraft pieces?"

-H.P. Lovecraft, 1929

What really makes Lovecraft interesting is the degree to which he was a student of the Horror genre. As his influential essay Supernatural Horror in Literature shows, Lovecraft was a voracious reader who went far afield in his search for interesting Horror authors. If Lovecraft hadn't been such an odd recluse, and instead pursued an academic career, we might not have had to wait...more
Ruthie Jones
I love these classic horror stories. Lovecraft was a very odd man, and that oddness shines through in his work. In other words, he battled a lot of issues such as immigrants "invading" his territory, and he pretty much lacked social skills on all levels. I learned his bio after reading the tales in this book, and that information illuminated many aspects of his stories such as race, gender, madness, etc. While many tales are reminiscent of Poe and Hawthorne, many are pure Lovecraft. I like all t...more
Phil
I read some selections after I verbally assaulted Lovecraft at a gaming session of Dungeons and Dragons. It was pointed out that Lovecraft is one of the intellectual parents of D&D and I had not read any Lovecraft. I was told diplomatically that I needed, "Know your facts before you go shooting your mouth off."

So, I read some Lovecraft. It was kind of what I expected. Dark and gothic with with wet slimy gore rather than dry dusty gore. Lovecraft has a strong if morbid understanding of the u...more
Jeb
This is perhaps the best starting point for all those interested in finding just what this Lovecraft cat was all about. All of his key stories are here; The Outsider, The Rats In The Walls, The Dunwich Horror, The Colour Out Of Space (Lovecraft's own personal favorite, and more. This may not be the definitive collections like those edited by S.T. Joshi or the uber-classy Library of America volume, but this is the best introduction one can get to H.P. Lovecraft. It's the book that got me hooked.
Adam
I started the "Best of H.P. Lovecraft" in the middle of the summer, quit for a few months, and just picked it up again. He really is fantastic. He made the modest claim once that "There are my 'Poe' pieces and my 'Dunsany pieces' – but alas – where are my Lovecraft pieces?" While it is true that some of his stories (The Rats in the Walls, The Picture in the House, The Outsider, Pickman's Model, In the Vault, and The Music of Erich Zann) are heavily reminiscent of Poe's works, in my opinion they...more
Dan Phillips
In high school, I went through a horror phase, and so I was deeply into Lovecraft. A recent viewing of a documentary inspired me to dig up this old "greatest hits" I had lying around. (I used to have hardcover Arkham editions of 'At the Mountains of Madness' and 'The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories,' but I must have sold them years ago...)

Initially, I was impressed all over again with the foreboding in each story -- the idea that there are forces far older than humankind slumbering underground...more
Earl Grey Tea
Hooray for xenophobia! Lovecraft's prejudice is not just against those nasty extraterrestrial monsters that drive average human's psyche to the point of oblivion; it also includes oversea immigrants that are from a non-Anglo background. It is interesting to see the mentality of a person from almost a hundred years ago, but it is a bit disappointing that this discrimination in the writing is not just the character reflecting the times, but also is reflecting the author's own mentality.

Beyond the...more
Jonathan Briggs
Reading this collection straight through isn't recommended as that would spotlight H.P. Lovecraft's rather severe limitations as a writer. His dialogue is atrocious. His descriptions are repetitive (except when he resorts to the copout of the horror so horrible it cannot be described). His heroes are generally wussies prone to faint dead away at the hint of an oozing tentacle. And I'm not even going to get into his virulent racism and unfortunate choice in cat names. But taken in smaller doses,...more
Kathryn
First Recorded Reading: October 17, 2000


Many people acknowledge Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) as the originator of macabre stories, and Stephen King (1947 – ) as the current holder of that title. But, O my best beloved, there was yet another writer who came between Poe and King, covering the same territory, and that author was H. P. Lovecraft (1890 – 1937). He is one of my personal favorite authors, and I have read this current collection before; but that ‘before’ was before I was doing Book Rev...more
Jonathan
Jan 13, 2011 Jonathan rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Sci-fi/horror fans
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
H.P. Lovecraft, in the centuries following his death, has moved steadily from cult author to geek favorite to full-blown pop culture icon. The phenomenon of Lovecraft, and especially the Cthulhu Mythos which he created, has manifested in ways the man himself would never have imagined – this past Christmas my brother gave our two-year-old nephew a stuffed plush toy of the cuddly li’l mind-destroying abomination. So it was, as references to Lovecraft’s works continued to pile up on every geek blo...more
David Stephens
One would think after all the bizarre supernatural events that occur in Lovecraft's fictional New England, a larger swath of people around the world would take notice and attempt to do something about them. In some cases, portals to other dimensions or remnants of ancient beings are even located squarely within large cities and, yet, remain undisclosed to the masses. This is, of course, mostly due to two things: because some citizens have a vague knowledge of the evil lurking nearby and wisely c...more
Katey
Perhaps it is that I really, really dislike the horror genre, or that I had heard so much fuss over Lovecraft and from other cool sources heard about the Cthulhu mythos and others, that I was so absolutely certain I'd adore Lovecraft. Wrong. And I tried. I can see a lot of things that others see as good, but personally, I felt all the stories were way too similar, written in the same voice. And I didn't need a sophmoric foreword to explain the obvious themes in his writing; the mild societal rac...more
Luis Salas
I've read the Lovecraft stories in this volume and others a bunch of times. I caution the reader, though, that every time I have recommended Lovecraft to an adult, the adult has scoffed at him as overblown and baroque. I don't disagree with this sentiment but I find that Lovecraft's self-conscious ornamentation adds rather than detracts from the world he creates. For historical reasons, Lovecraft is a must-read. He is generally credited as being the forerunner of modern horror and one of the rea...more
J
It hadn’t been a real long while since I last read Lovecraft but I attacked Bloodcurdling Tales with relish. I prefer Lovecraft’s weird tales to his dream quest stuff and that’s what this one’s all about. This book is the perfect introduction to Lovecraft for the newcomer and a great way to revisit his work for the longtime fan.

Many of the classics are here including some of my favorites like “Pickman’s Model,” “Dreams In The Witch House” and “In The Vault.” “The Call Of Cthulhu,” and other stor...more
Kate
It's hard to believe that I went so long without having read H.P. Lovecraft, considering that I love horror and most of my favorite horror authors are influenced by his work. For some reason I thought his stories would be hard to connect with - probably because of the whole "Cthulhu" / made up word thing. I found three of his short story collections at the library and chose to begin with this one largely because it contained the story "The Call of Cthulhu."

The first few short stories reminded me...more
Chris
Great collection of stories from the master of classic horror. I especially enjoyed how most, if not all, of the stories in some way link back to the myths and legends surrounding the town of Arkham and Miskatonic University. Many of which involve the Cthulhu Mythos and the Necronomicon (and other similar tomes). Themes of madness and dreams occur frequently. Some of the stories are a bit dense and rambling but often this is to build tension and mood. These are not action stories. I think most w...more
Jon
Dec 18, 2007 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: classic horror fans
I'm embarrassed to say that I only started reading Lovecraft recently but I don't think I would have enjoyed his creepy tales of eldritch horror as much if I had read them when I was younger... it takes a sense of historical perspective to realize how radical his stuff was. He was a man ahead of his time but it may be hard to see it since so much of his style has been co-opted by those who came after. Stephan King, Mike Mignola, Sam Rami, Metallica (to name but a few)… books, comics, movies, mus...more
Seamus
HPL was florid, formulaic, and racist as all hell. He was also the most important horror writer of the 20th century. As collected here, the best of his weird fiction is unforgettable, from the globe-spanning near-apocalypse of "The Call of Cthulhu" to the expansive and more subtly disquieting "The Shadow Out of Time".

While it's nice to see publishers recognizing HPL's influence with classy, literary-looking new editions of Lovecraft tales, I certainly can't think of a better way to meet this cre...more
Nickie
Tales of ancient spells, nefarious secret societies and hideous creatures, meticulously crafted, but devoid of mystery/anticipation. If I can guess the ending, then you're either purposefully writing without intending surprise or you might need to work on your technique. Lovecraft doesn't need my writing advice, so I *guess* he's not bothered about the final pay-off and is all about the intricate all. Good, but not the immersive experience I expected - one for dipping in and out of, but a bit of...more
Bryan Worra
You will either love or hate the work H.P. Lovecraft, but this book is an absolutely essential example of his writing that will give you more than enough examples of his classic works to determine for yourself if it's for you or not.

It lamentably excludes At The Mountains of Madness and many of his shorter stories, but the inclusion of Call of Cthulhu, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Out Of Time, and The Colour Out of Space, and so many others makes it an excellent fir...more
John
Jan 21, 2008 John rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Time traveling hoity toits!
I just cannot get into this book! I know some consider him a master of terror and such but the language is so fluffy there's nothing to be really terrified of. It has to be the generation gap because it cannot be argued he is a great writer but, snoozers, it would put me to sleep quicker than a PM with a Diazipam. I know I sound like a complete philistine here but whatever, give me Steven King and Anne Rice any day. I don't what to have a thesaurus handy when I'm trying to scare myself with a go...more
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9494
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a...more
More about H.P. Lovecraft...
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror At the Mountains of Madness The Transition of H. P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

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