Jeremy's Reviews > The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft
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Mar 14, 2009

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Read in April, 2009

It's always hard for me to rate short story collections, because half of the stories are great and half I never think about again once I've read them. But I am glad that I've read some Lovecraft, since he seems to cast a long shadow over not only modern horror, but modern sci-fi as well. I probably would have liked this collection so much more had I read it in high school.

Some of these were not to my taste, sometimes due to weak story subjects and sometimes to excruciatingly slow pacing. "Pickman's Model", "The Picture in the House", "The Music of Erich Zann" and "The Dunwich Horror" did nothing for me for some or all of the reasons listed above.

But I did like his writing all in all, though it does suffer from the slow pacing and densely worded narration that must have been in style in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I would say that in general I found Lovecraft capable of telling a great story.

The most surprising finding of all is that I don't really like "The Call of Cthulhu". It was a little disappointing for being a story that launched a thousand imitators.

To some extent if you've read one Lovecraft story (especially his "Cthulhu mythos" stories) you've probably read them all. They go like this: Man of reason hears strange rumor or folk legend. Man of reason incredulously investigates said rumor or folk legend. Man of reason sees "blasphemous horror" (Lovecraft's favorite descriptive phrase) that is typically an alien being that came to earth "strange aeons ago". Man of reason somehow uses his wits to get out of the mess his wits have gotten him into. Man of reason emerges victorious but knows that the "elder beings" still lurk in the shadows and forgotten spaces of Earth. Man of reason knows his victory is incomplete and bound to be short-lived.

My favorite so far is "The Shadow over Innsmouth". A great horror story! And an amazing twist! "The Rats in the Walls", "The Colour out of Space" and "Dreams in the Witch House" were definitely other great ones. Reading these it's easy to see why the Lovecraft legacy still lives on in the works of Stephen King and others of the modern horror movement.

If you're into horror you should read Lovecraft. He's well worth it, even if he sometimes gets heavy-handed.

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