Jason's Reviews > The Horror From The Mound, And Black Talons

The Horror From The Mound, And Black Talons by Robert E. Howard
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's review
Dec 01, 08


This review pertains only to the short story, "The Horror from the Mound".

The Horror from the Mound
By Robert E. Howard
1932
Finished: November 4th, 2008

Seeking some escape from the stress of the election, and still in a “scary” mood from Halloween, I grabbed my “Horror Stories” collection by Robert E. Howard and picked “The Horror from the Mound” because it has an interesting title.
What begins as a fairly typical Robert E. Howard story set in Texas turns into something else, and though I thought the yarn fell short of its true potential, I was still met with some pleasant surprises…

2.5 Characters
Satisfactory with positive exceptions
Although the principal character did not especially grab my attention at first, the cast in this story (basically just two people) are interesting enough. Howard characters are sometimes difficult to understand, and Steve Brill is no exception. He feels real though, possessing all the contrary impulses that I believe drove many of the men on the frontier.

3 Pace
Good
In typical Howard fashion, there is not a lot of time to catch your breath. Once you get past Juan Lopez’s initial speech, the story moves quickly.

4 Story
Very good
There is the nucleus of a story here that could have been made into a novel. It could have been a sort of “American Dracula”, and it is this that I both applaud REH for, and also feel he fell short in doing justice to. The story basically begins with a hero uncovering the grave of a vampire and destroying it in the same night, but it is the tantalizing history of the vampire that grabbed my attention. The story of a monster from Spain making his way to the New World is delightful, and I wish there had been more time spent dwelling on the creature itself instead of the hero who does him in.

2.5 Dialogue
Satisfactory with positive exceptions
I generally like Robert Howard’s dialogue. He is weakest when writing women, and there are no females in this story. Unfortunately, he does seem a bit wordy in this one. Both Steve Brill and Juan Lopez seem too educated and verbose than what I would expect from hard men of the frontier, and also perhaps too steeped in history. Perhaps I am wrong, but it feels as though Howard is trying to bring his reader up to speed on the local history to form a back story.

3 Style/Technical
Good
Howard’s prose is fairly consistent from story to story. He either improves or declines in terms of characters, dialogue, and story, but his writing is always easy to follow and understand. His description of the mound, Juan’s shack, and the general country give the reader everything they need to envision the story as though it were real.

3 Overall
“The Horror from the Mound” is not a great REH story, but it is entertaining. The author’s attempts to write supernatural stories based in his own environment is commendable, and while not always successful, they do provide a different perspective. So many stories take place in haunted houses, large cities, and generally a more urban environment. Howard’s stories are filled with the vigor of the frontier, and you can almost smell the southwest when you read them.
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