It’s been a while since I devoured some Lovecraft; sad times indeed. But when I saw this collection of HP-inspired stories I just had to get involved. I knew nothing of the author and when I made the snap-purchase, expected it to be modern-day homage to some of the most horrifying stories ever written.
These stories were actually written between 1962 and 2010, so there’s quite a timespan going on. I suppose the fact that I couldn’t tell the old from the new is testament to how good these stories are. Well, in the most part. There were a couple of wobbles in some of them.
This book is littered with characters, beasts, and places from the Cthulhu Mythos. I wouldn’t go as far as to say you’d think Lovecraft wrote these, but they are certainly in the same vein as the classics.
The Doom That Came to Dunwich kicks things off, as you might expect. A young student, a descendant of the infamous Whateleys, travels to Dunwich to find out more about the ‘horror’ that unfolded there. She learns that the place is unlike any other small village and is intrigued by the state-of-the-art technology facility on the outskirts of the cursed Dunwich.
It seems The Great Old Ones have not forgotten the details of the events in 1928 and plan to exact their revenge on the hapless humans. When an indescribable beast emerges from the sky, tentacles and all, I knew I was in for a treat.
The wonders of modern science have managed to construct a sea, of all things, within the famous desert in The Secret of the Sahara. But the problem with undertaking such a colossal project such as this, is that you’re probably going to stumble across some scary-ass ancient beings deep down below. Come on, we all know that.
This one took its sweet time to get going. The ending was decent enough but after the not exactly boring build-up, it didn’t wow me like it should have.
In The Turret a man travels to England from the US to help a business with a problem that’s affecting their high-tech computer system. Unfortunately he can’t work out what the problem is and ends up having to stay there longer than he’d anticipated. There’s a strange turret in the distance, something no one in the town wants to speak about. Not that they are that forthcoming anyway, in fact they’re quite rude. Those bloody English!
The man stays with a female employee of the company, who’s actually his cousin, and spends his evenings watching this mystical turret from the bedroom window. Eventually he gets to visit the place, but not in any conventional mode of transport.
This story dragged on, too. The dude travels there three times or so, each one more mysterious than the last. If he’d have gone once and all the weird shit had been condensed, I’d have been happier. But hey.
The Peltonville Horror is a proper Lovecraftian title if ever I saw one. Small towns with their mystic cults and earlier-than-mankind deities whom they worship are creepy enough at the best of times. So when a young couple arrive during a storm seeking shelter for the night, you just know they are in for some bad shit happenings.
However, these two were just so damn annoying I couldn’t wait for some monstrous alien beast with tentacles to rip their pathetic heads from their bodies. Who talks like this, seriously? I’d have thought this was one of the stories from the sixties, but no, its post-2000. Perhaps you were supposed to side with cosmicos here.
We’re back in Dunwich for The Devil’s Hop Yard, where again a strange child is born on the Whateley farm. This one was a spooky little tale where the locals still fear the farm after what happened there recently, you know, the ‘horror’. The bleak hillside known as the story’s title, is the site of some weird-ass unknown ritual magic. I enjoyed this one very much.
Documents in the Case of Elizabeth Akeley was pretty much a continuation of The Whisperer in Darkness. As is suggested in the title this one relied on tape recordings and statements from witnesses to tell the story. Lizzy has this great skill of contacting the dead, and her ‘Church’ makes the most of this, obviously. However when she is instructed by a spirit to meet them in a previously-unknown place, she realises things are not as straight forward as simply talking to ghosts.
Throw in a UFO-conspiracy theorist whose tiny human brain couldn’t even begin to cope with the strange occurrences unfolding around him, and you’ve got one great cosmic horror story. The brain-sized metallic cylinders make a welcome guest appearance here.
I love The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and Brackish Waters was a kind of re-telling of this, insomuch as it involved the fishy people and a man who has perhaps less in common with humans than he always thought. This one actually mentions Lovecraft and how he wrote about the species that governments the world over have been trying to keep quiet. Referencing the inspiration was a move I didn’t entirely agree with but the story is good enough for me to overlook this. I don’t want to be too picky you see.
I admit, I didn’t expect to come across Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in this collection, but here they were in The Adventure of the Voorish Sign. Tasked with uncovering the secrets of yet another other-worldly worshipping cult, who surely have something to do with the disappearance of a young lady’s husband and brother (this is two separate people I might add), they get to work. This story really pulled it off with the mood and time of the piece. I really liked this one.
I haven’t read any ‘Holmes, but now I think reading them will be disappointing as I’m sure there’s no cosmic horror in those books.
Things are rounded off with the shortest story in the collection, Nothing Personal. A spaceship orbiting Yuggoth accidentally alerts this strange planet to their, and our existence. This was a nice closer and gave the thing a welcome modern setting.
All in all I really enjoyed this collection. There were a few issues but I’d still recommend it to Lovecraft fans. Those without a knowledge of the ‘Mythos would still get some enjoyment but there would be things that’d go over their heads.
My hardback edition of HP Lovecraft’s complete works is now calling my name. I can hear the slithering of the tentacles from the bookshelf. It whispers to me, it is only a matter of time. If anyone should stumble upon my incoherent ramblings in this review… Wait, it’s here, I…
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Categories: book review
Nice review! I don’t need every story in a collection to be awesome in order for me to enjoy the book as a whole. Funny about Sherlock Holmes being in there.:-)
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Thanks! Yeah it was a shock, but old Holmesy knew what he was dealing with pretty well!!