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

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4.31  ·  Rating details ·  27,774 ratings  ·  640 reviews
“H.P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”—Stephen King

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”—H.P. Lovecraft


This is the collection that true fans of horror fiction must have: sixteen of H.P. Lovecraft’s most horrifying
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Paperback, 406 pages
Published October 29th 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published 1963)
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Scott It is totally acceptable to read and appreciate his work, while at the same time realizing that Lovecraft was highly ignorant of racial issues. The ma…moreIt is totally acceptable to read and appreciate his work, while at the same time realizing that Lovecraft was highly ignorant of racial issues. The man was a brilliantly imaginative horror/science-fiction writer, and for this he has been and will continue to be a major figure in literature. It is also why you can and should read him.

But we should also recognize that Lovecraft, as learned as he was on astronomy and other areas of academia, was not the person to consult for any sort of progressive, truly enlightened notions of anthropology. By most accounts, for most of his relatively short life, he was a racist who felt that non-WASPs were basically inferior. So did plenty of other phenomenal writers in history, including Arthur Conan Doyle and more (I'm not going to stop reading Sherlock Holmes stories, either).

Since Lovecraft's tales are never about setting forth some sort of social agenda, I've never had a problem reading and enjoying his works. I also don't hesitate to point out that he was seriously uninformed when it came to ideas on people from different parts of the world. (less)

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Bill Kerwin
May 21, 2007 rated it really liked it

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
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Apatt
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“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 websites and forums, not to mention myriad other kinds of websites. 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 s
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Ayla Zachary
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Ted
I recently read a review by Glenn Russell of a Lovecraft short story called From Beyond. (In his review Glenn provides this link to a Guttenburg Australia site titled the Collected Stories of Lovecraft.)


H.P. Lovecraft, 1934, age 43. ~3 years until he passed on to … what?

These are 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 r
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Cbj
This is a book that tested me as a reader. I have had a relatively easy reading year consisting of many popular fiction novels that were great page turners. But this collection of stories by H.P.Lovecraft gave me a real workout. At times I had to reread many of the intricately composed sentences and quite often found myself checking words in dictionaries. It took me almost a month to finish this book.

I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection. But The Call of Cthulhu, The Whisperer in Dar
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Felicia
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, horror
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.
Jonathan Terrington

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
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Adam
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
✨Sumi's Books✨
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A wonderful compilation of his stories. This compilation includes such tales as The Call of Cthulhu, the Dunwich Horror and Shadow over Innsmouth. HP Lovecraft has a way of writing that in my personal opinion is damn near perfect. His sentence structure and word usage is on point in every paragraph. Absolutely fabulous writer and absolutely fabulous stories. I would recommend this to anyone!
Lisa Reads & Reviews

To the best of my recollection, this may have been my first reading of H.P. Lovecraft. Seems unlikely, I know. What I found is that Lovecraft is as familiar as meat on a stick, seen at carnivals and malls everywhere. I feel as though I know Lovecraft's work, for I've read those who influenced him (Edgar Allan Poe and Algernon Blackwood), and I've read or seen films by multitude of writers influenced by him, such as Steven King and Brian Lumley, for example. I wasn't aware until now that Lovecraf
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J.G. 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 wa
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Jonathan
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Not having read him before, I was surprised to find these rather enjoyable. Not remotely disturbing or frightening to the modern mind, of course, but it is interesting to see the fears engendered by the scientific revolutions at the start of the 20thc. Also interesting to see how much of contemporary sci-fi/horror is simply a regurgitation of his ideas.
Werner
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of "horror" and of horrific 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
Nicole Barrell
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I felt like a dolt due to the number of words I had to look up, but I'm better for it, and it was worth it.
Michael
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Horror fans, Lovecraft fans, literature students
Recommended to Michael by: Gary Gygax and J. Eric Holmes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Billy
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-reading
some of the stories were great, but all his protagonists were the same characters and it just got old after a while...
Ruthie Jones
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
christopher
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mountains of Madness still is my favorite sci-fi story of all time. This book makes you feel less scared of life.
SheriC (PM)
This is my first Lovecraft, so I can’t judge whether this particular collection has all his “best”. It did have the stories that were recommended to me as being representative of his work: The Dunwich Horror, The Colour Out of Space, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and of course, The Call of Cthulhu. I enjoyed all of these. The quality of the other stories was variable.

Rather than trying to review the stories individually, I’ll just offer a few random thoughts. Yep, now that I’ve read the source mate
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Lee Foust
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Pickman's Model," like E. A. Poe's "The Oval Portrait," implies that art, in order to be safe, must be imaginative. It's too much reality that scares us, that drains the life from life and makes art a kind of repository of a life taken, like a ghost or zombie. Also interesting question and answer format--just like the Lydia Davis story I also read yesterday, "Jury Duty." I might try a form like it for my current book of tales connected by a frame-narrative. Love me some experiments in form.

"In
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Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
The Allen & Unwin edition I bought The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Tales That Truly Terrify from the Master of Horror is a rather uneven selection of stories, but some of the author's most important work appears, including The Call of Cthulhu, Rats in the Walls, The Dunwich Horror, and the novellas At the Mountains of Madness and The Shadow over Innsmouth. I've since found the editions introduced by S T Joshi (I think from Penguin) more informative and balanced in the selections.

Among Lovecraft's in
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Rebecca McNutt
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
H.P. Lovecraft's work is brilliant; I was really glad to have found a reduced price copy of this book and I loved how each story was a little bit different. The creativity and originality in this collection is fantastic!
Cora
Jan 15, 2013 rated it liked it
I only read about four stories and I think I'll check it out more in summer. Just not the right time right now.
Ramybe
You probably need to have a certain experience to find this bloodcurdling.
It doesn't make it more horrifying no matter how often you repeat the word.
Written quite well only wasn't horrified as been promised. Kids should like it though.
Josh
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
For an author, creating something that is frightening can be a challenging thing, given that the subject matter is neither seen, nor heard by the reader. Rather it takes place solely in the mind, leaving it up to the reader to decide if what they're experiencing is scary or horrifying. It's almost pretentious, when you think about it. Selling a story as a horror is telling the reader how they're going to feel while reading it. Of course, the same could be said for comedy and many other genres, b ...more
Luiz
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of the master of horror! I had read this already back in high school, but I didn’t remember much of it. I decided that since there are so many references to Lovecraft’s work all over the place (books, movies, games, comics, etc…), I should give it a re-read. One of the things I do remember was that it was scary. It’s not easy for a book to be scary - movies can easily make you jump, but without the benefit of graphic scenes and loud noises, a book has to do a lot more work t ...more
Kate
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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J.M. Hushour
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
My sole previous experience with Lovecraft is his fine short novel "At the Mountains of Madness". Well-crafted and well-plotted, the freakish and disturbing nature of his meticulously thought-out lore comes to the fore in that and numerous other stories from his work.
Herein lies the problem: Lovecraft is a fine writer, a composer that can't help but remind one of a latter-day, emotionally disturbed Dickens. His turn-of-the-word is outstanding, but highly derivative in and of itself. What I mean
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HoosierGhoul
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The Best of H.P. Lovecraft" is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. Also, it was my first time pouring over the works of Lovecraft; but as of now, can consider him to be one of the most talented writers who ever lived. Of all the stories included in this compilation/anthology, I would consider such stories as "The Rats in the Walls," "The Outsider," "The Music of Erich Zahn," and "The Dreams in the Witch House," to be my favorites; and as for some of the stories I enjoyed the least, ...more
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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
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When genres cross and stories wander, interesting things can happen. Consider the curious case of the Supernatural Investigator, a surpris...
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“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.” 14 likes
“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival... a survival of a hugely remote period when... consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity... forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds... - Algernon Blackwood” 2 likes
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