Pamela's Reviews > Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft
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Dec 10, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: bizarre, creepy, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, short-stories
Read from June 13 to 15, 2011

I felt bad after reading The Best of H.P. Lovecraft and struggling massively to get through it. I said to myself, where, exactly, is all of the horrifying horrible horror-stuff that is so closely associated with Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos? I honestly don't think it's because I grew up in an era where horror and violence are pretty freely shown in movies and on TV, and therefore Lovecraft's stories don't have as much of an impact. I'm not a horror movie watcher by any means. I simply didn't *get* Lovecraft when I read the earlier compilation.

Now I'm starting to change my mind. This anthology started out brilliantly, with the iconic Call of Cthulhu, and other stories by writer's in Lovecraft's circle. The literary conceit is kind of cool, because they include or reference each other's characters, and even each other, in their stories, creating this alternate universe where the Old Ones really do have power, where the Necronomicon is an actual book, and where these events actually occurred. Even Lovecraft himself becomes a figure in the stories, as an author, as an explorer of the supernatural and horrific, and even as a prophet. I think that Bloch's The Shadow from the Steeple, a continuation of Lovecraft's Haunter of the Dark, was my favorite story.

However, I found some of the newer entries in this Mythos to be a bit out of step with the original feel of Lovecraft's writings. For, I found, Lovecraft's stories were as much about his setting as the actual menace from gigantic, multi-dimensional space beings. Arkham, Innsmouth, Miskatonic University--these places are rendered so carefully, so menacingly, that they play as great a role in the stories as Cthulhu, Yog-Soggoth, and other horrors. The newer stories pulled a bit too far away, "ran with it" a bit too much. The last story in the collection, particularly, with its weird cyborgs-from-Neptune-having-sexytime opening, totally incomprehensible conception of world history in the future in reverse, and bionic-blah-dee-blah left me cold. Indeed, many of these stories felt as though the Lovecraftian connection was forced, as if the author said, "Hey! If I toss in a couple of these heavy-on-the-consonants names, my stories can be part of the Cthulhu stories!" Hm.

I did like Stephen King's story, although it's only the second thing I've ever read by him, because he has a sneaky sort of wit about his writing that charms me.

The not-very-good and downright weak stories here made me appreciate the original much more than I did the first time around, so I'll probably seek out more of Lovecraft. The weakness of some of the included stories dropped this down to three stars.
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06/15/2011 page 352

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