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A definitive edition of stories by the master of supernatural fiction Howard Phillips Lovecraft's unique contribution to American literature was a melding of traditional supernaturalism (derived chiefly from Edgar Allan Poe) with the genre of science fiction that emerged in the early 1920s. This Penguin Classics edition brings together a dozen of the master's tales-from his A definitive edition of stories by the master of supernatural fiction Howard Phillips Lovecraft's unique contribution to American literature was a melding of traditional supernaturalism (derived chiefly from Edgar Allan Poe) with the genre of science fiction that emerged in the early 1920s. This Penguin Classics edition brings together a dozen of the master's tales-from his early short stories "Under the Pyramids" (originally ghostwritten for Harry Houdini) and "The Music of Erich Zann" (which Lovecraft ranked second among his own favorites) through his more fully developed works, "The Dunwich Horror," The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and At the Mountains of Madness. The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories presents the definitive corrected texts of these works, along with Lovecraft critic and biographer S. T. Joshi's illuminating introduction and notes to each story. Contains the following tales: - The Tomb - Beyond the Wall of Sleep - The White Ship - The Temple - The Quest of Iranon - The Music of Erich Zann - Imprisoned with the Pharaohs aka Under the Pyramids - Pickman's Model - The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - The Dunwich Horror - At the Mountains of Madness - The Thing on the Doorstep


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A definitive edition of stories by the master of supernatural fiction Howard Phillips Lovecraft's unique contribution to American literature was a melding of traditional supernaturalism (derived chiefly from Edgar Allan Poe) with the genre of science fiction that emerged in the early 1920s. This Penguin Classics edition brings together a dozen of the master's tales-from his A definitive edition of stories by the master of supernatural fiction Howard Phillips Lovecraft's unique contribution to American literature was a melding of traditional supernaturalism (derived chiefly from Edgar Allan Poe) with the genre of science fiction that emerged in the early 1920s. This Penguin Classics edition brings together a dozen of the master's tales-from his early short stories "Under the Pyramids" (originally ghostwritten for Harry Houdini) and "The Music of Erich Zann" (which Lovecraft ranked second among his own favorites) through his more fully developed works, "The Dunwich Horror," The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and At the Mountains of Madness. The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories presents the definitive corrected texts of these works, along with Lovecraft critic and biographer S. T. Joshi's illuminating introduction and notes to each story. Contains the following tales: - The Tomb - Beyond the Wall of Sleep - The White Ship - The Temple - The Quest of Iranon - The Music of Erich Zann - Imprisoned with the Pharaohs aka Under the Pyramids - Pickman's Model - The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - The Dunwich Horror - At the Mountains of Madness - The Thing on the Doorstep

30 review for The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Like the other two Joshi Lovecraft anthologies, this collection is helpfully annotated, expertly introduced, and includes pieces Lovecraft wrote throughout his career. The two earliest--"The Tomb" and "Beyond the Wall of Sleep"--are crude, but characteristic of their author in the way they assume that true horror is born from the human mind's capacity for transcending space and time and the possibility that entities from beyond space and time can take advantage of this human capacity. The two Du Like the other two Joshi Lovecraft anthologies, this collection is helpfully annotated, expertly introduced, and includes pieces Lovecraft wrote throughout his career. The two earliest--"The Tomb" and "Beyond the Wall of Sleep"--are crude, but characteristic of their author in the way they assume that true horror is born from the human mind's capacity for transcending space and time and the possibility that entities from beyond space and time can take advantage of this human capacity. The two Dunsanian imitations--"The White Ship" and "The Quest of Iranon"--each have a distinctive Lovecraftian touch. "The Music of Eric Zann" and "Pickman's Model" are both masterpieces of Lovecraft's early maturity, short in length and economical in their effects. By far the worst piece of writing included in this volume is "Under the Pyramids," a fantastic first-person narrative ghost written for Harry Houdini; the prose is so overwrought it often seems like parody, but good parody is far more amusing than this is. The anthology ends with three of the authors most effective works: "The Dunwich Horror" (a powerful long short story marred by a conventional ending which dissipates that true horror of Wilbur Whateley's death and the revelation of his alien nature), The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (a flawed but memorable novel which combines a Lovecraft-like protagonist with a Hawthorneian gothic atmosphere and a host of subterranean horrors), and The Mountains of Madness (an impressionistic and abstract short novel which evokes horror primarily through the suggestive details of an antarctic landscape). All in all, this is a fine representative anthology.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Spooktober book #10! Despite the flaws of some stories – not to mention the author’s flaws – I’ll always be a fan of Mr. Lovecraft’s work. I delight in his creepy, ambiguous style of horror, in the existential dread and vague sense of cosmic menace that permeate his stories, like a thick New England fog. This collection includes some of H.P.’s most famous stories, “At the Mountain of Madness”, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” and “The Dunwich Horror”, but also a few lesser-known yet just as juicy Spooktober book #10! Despite the flaws of some stories – not to mention the author’s flaws – I’ll always be a fan of Mr. Lovecraft’s work. I delight in his creepy, ambiguous style of horror, in the existential dread and vague sense of cosmic menace that permeate his stories, like a thick New England fog. This collection includes some of H.P.’s most famous stories, “At the Mountain of Madness”, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” and “The Dunwich Horror”, but also a few lesser-known yet just as juicy morsels, such as “The White Ship”, and even a clever little retelling of a Harry Houdini story. The Joshi-edited Penguin Modern Classic edition is also very well annotated and the introduction is informative, which makes it well worth the detour for fans of the Father of Weird. I think that driving through Massachusetts (and the American North East in general) in the fall gave me a new appreciation for Lovecraft that I didn’t have before I saw the landscapes that inspired him with my own eyes. We drive from Montreal to Boston to visit friends every Thanksgiving, and looking at the rolling hills, the isolated little farm houses, the impenetrable-looking woods (and sometimes the cold, grey beaches) had made my reading of his stories more vivid. This collection gets 3 stars, because while it still packs a lot of awesomeness, some stories do drag a bit longer than they should, and the creepy factor looses some steam.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    "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 The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories is one of three Penguin Classics omnibuses, which together contain the majority of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction. Though I loved many of the stories in this particular book, I enjoyed the other two volumes a lot more. A lot of the stories in this collection were weaker, like The Quest of Iranon (a Tolkien-esque fantas "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 The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories is one of three Penguin Classics omnibuses, which together contain the majority of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction. Though I loved many of the stories in this particular book, I enjoyed the other two volumes a lot more. A lot of the stories in this collection were weaker, like The Quest of Iranon (a Tolkien-esque fantasy story) and The Music of Erich Zann, and one was outright dreadful (Under the Pyramids). That being said, this collection contains one of the greatest works of weird fiction/cosmic horror ever written, the novella At the Mountains of Madness (Lovecraft himself called this his "best" work of fiction). One thing that really irritated me over the course of reading these omnibuses, and really I have encountered this in other Penguin Classics books, so I think it is a problem with that particular line in general, is that the introductions at the beginning of the books and some of the explanatory notes ruin parts of the book or, in this case, entire plots of some of the stories. These Lovecraft omnibuses are broken down into these parts: - Introduction at the beginning of the book, written by S.T. Joshi - The stories themselves - Explanatory Notes section at the back of the book containing: - A one or two page background on each story, written by S.T. Joshi - Endnotes for each story, written by S.T. Joshi In both the introduction at the beginning of the books, and in the one or two page background sections for each story, Joshi occasionally drops huge spoilers, in some cases ruining the current story for you, or ruining other Lovecraft stories than the one you're currently reading about, but which you haven't read yet! As such, I recommend you read these Penguin Classics Lovecraft omnibuses in this order: 1. Each story 2. The endnotes for each story as you encounter them while reading each story, in the Explanatory Notes section at the back of the book 3. Only after reading each entire story and all its endnotes, the one or two page background description of the story in the Explanatory Notes section at the back of the book 4. Only after you have read all the stories, all the endnotes, and all the story descriptions, read the introduction at the very beginning of the book This won't entirely save you, because he even spoils things occasionally in endnotes, but such spoilers are rare and following the above order should spare you the annoyance I had of having several great Lovecraft stories (like Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family) ruined for me before I got a chance to read them (though spoiled, they were still enjoyable to read when I eventually got to them). Going back to the contents themselves, I could talk about them and my love for Lovecraft (haha, pun) all day. After now reading most of Lovecraft's body of fiction, I safely place him in my top three favourite authors of all time, and he makes a very strong case for being my favourite. What he was able to accomplish in his short lifetime (he only lived to the age of 47) is truly inspiring. He was sick and poor for much of his life, and didn't even finish high school due to certain psychological issues he faced that involved stress and anxiety. In spite of this, he read countless books on a range of subjects on his own and became an expert in many of them. Using this wealth of knowledge, he then went on to compile a legendary volume of weird and horror fiction that single-handedly defined and redefined entire genres of fiction. I'm going to change tone a bit here and, in light of recent criticism of him, weigh in a little bit on Lovecraft as a person. Was H.P. Lovecraft flawed as an individual? Yes he was. He was deeply racist (this is made quite obvious in the story The Horror at Red Hook, which is not contained in this volume, and in some of his other stories) and at times throughout his life (this is quite obvious in the story The Thing on the Doorstep, though his views on women improved later in his life) a misogynist. In spite of this, I am a big believer that you need to be able to separate the art from the artist. The fact is, in the early 1900s when Lovecraft was writing, a lot of people were racists and misogynists. Does that make it right? No, it doesn't. It was wrong then; it's still wrong now. It will always be wrong. Keeping that in mind, I believe you can't take what were really quite ordinary views for a man living in the early 1900s and use those to try to bury the enormous impact and literary contributions someone like him has made. It's simply not fair to do so. I disagree that they removed his face from the award statue given out for the World Fantasy Award, and I always will. H.P. Lovecraft is undeniably one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century, and contributed more to the horror, cosmic horror, and weird fiction genres than perhaps any other writer. He deserves better. Think what you will about H.P. Lovecraft the person, but if you are a fan of horror, science fiction, or weird fiction, you owe it to yourself to read his work. He is truly, and possibly more than any other author I've ever read, an absolute pleasure to read. Highly recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mauoijenn

    Lovecraft is most definitely one of the BEST<\b>!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    You don’t get any points for treating pulp as serious literature, especially not with Lovecraft. And even if you did, disputations about genre are not a hill that anyone should want to die on. That being said I want to shout at the clouds about science fiction & horror for a minute. Fans of the lowbrow often come off as defensive, ensconced in a slightly delusional persecution complex; these days, there are far more defenders of popular art forms than there are snobs pillorying them. So this is You don’t get any points for treating pulp as serious literature, especially not with Lovecraft. And even if you did, disputations about genre are not a hill that anyone should want to die on. That being said I want to shout at the clouds about science fiction & horror for a minute. Fans of the lowbrow often come off as defensive, ensconced in a slightly delusional persecution complex; these days, there are far more defenders of popular art forms than there are snobs pillorying them. So this is not another bellicose salvo in a tedious & irrelevant debate, I'd just like to make some observations about the mechanics of the books themselves. I think the question of genre is one of the more interesting endemic to Lovecraft’s work and legacy. And I think it has become vexed in recent times. The gothic is the pulp arm of romanticism; Lovecraft’s own genre, the Weird, is the pulp arm of modernism (and of surrealism to whatever extent it has a separate identity), but it is not modern or anti-modern so much as metamodern. Both the modernist genre products meant for mass consumption & the highbrow, avant garde or countercultural niches are dynamic conceptual poles & most novels, stories, poems & whatever else, exist somewhere on a spectrum between them; and at the risk of sounding like a dilettantish Deleuzo-Derridean, this is a continuum of variously assembled protocols, each with its own hybrid atomic structure which determines the thematic or narratological coordinates the work itself receives. So the genre categories I’m referring to are by way of reference diachronic or etiological, a historicized family tree sutured together by influence & inheritance rather than an overdetermined natural essence. I tilt toward lowbrow genre pulp, an aspecific but pragmatic pattern for the combination of these tropes, because I instinctively feel that there’s more room for creativity and vision within their loose (but instantaneously recognizable) structuration. And, well, literary theory is mostly ex post facto rationalization for intuitive claims. Or so my intuition tells me. But lately I'm not sure what the point of it is, except as a rubric for periodization. Some of the better postmodern writers, at least the ones with an interest in pulp like Thomas Pynchon & JG Ballard, worked to blur these distinctions, to show that high and low art existed symbiotically, that they are never fully independent of one another. And comics, horror movies & science fiction have become raw ore for post-postmodernist, lyrical realist, ‘new sincere’ and slipstream attempts to eclipse the logic of postmodernism. They are fully integrated into the deep grammar of self-styled serious art. I think the problem with many of these approaches is that an internal condition of postmodernism is the occlusion of broad consensus, so its lineage is necessarily multifarious. But these nascent pretenders-to-the-throne are still beholden to the grand narrative structure of modernism, usually replete with their own manifestos, that odd hangover from industrial age organizing credos. A friend sent me the manifesto for the #AltWoke movement the other day and despite the freshness of its declarations, I couldn't believe how outdated it felt. How can you have a manifesto after Derrida and Baudrillard? These thinkers can and (in my opinion) should be supplanted, but their accomplishments still call for new forms of resistance. More to the point, returning to an inflexible binary of high and low art (or any kind of strict genre demarcation) is a pointless and reactionary move. Here’s something to think on; when did the inclusion of ghosts, monsters, battles, etc. become the Master Signifiers of genre work, irreconcilable with serious literature except via irony or pastiche? And why is the horror genre until WWII, which is usually about the neurosis of the emergent petit bourgeois professional class (a subject universal to novels of every stripe since medievalism), suddenly warded off as a lowbrow deviation from literary canonicity? Shelley, Radcliffe, Poe, De Fanu, Machen, Blackwood & many, many others were at least as gifted as their contemporaries in the realist traditions. But lapsing into relativism is callow and uninteresting, so how do we prosecute a 21st century cartography of genre? That is, without writing a manifesto. I don't actually know the answer to this question but I'm sure that it must be done & the enduring vitality of certain genre works is a good place to start. I think I’ve rambled headlong into H.P. Lovecraft himself. Lovecraft’s abilities as a writer were immense. Even his worst stories contain all the quality of the novelistic tradition in style, composition and structure. And his best work approaches the classics, both in merit and longterm cultural resonance. But as with any artist broadly imitated, his lineage of influence has not always been positive. Not everyone learned the right lessons from Lovecraft. Modern authors of horror are too character focused, I think. You can probably blame this on the popularity of someone like Stephen King, who pilfered cosmic abominations from Lovecraft but left at the doorway the context which made them horrifying in the first place. Creating sympathetic characters in cozy domestic settings only to maim & kill them is a cheap bit. But it has proven endlessly popular & was enthusiastically picked up by the mostly unimpressive horror movie machine in hollywood. The only reason for authors of horror to forge a sympathetic character is to evoke a gratuitous or sadistic libidinal thrill from violence done to them. Thematically speaking, it shouldn’t matter if the victims of Pennywise or Cthulhu are well wrought representations of the human psyche. It’s not really the point. As Thomas Ligotti puts it,“…the consolation of horror in art is that it actually intensifies our panic, loudens it on the sounding-board of our horror-hollowed hearts, turns terror up full blast, all the while reaching for that perfect and deafening amplitude at which we may dance to the bizarre music of our own misery.” Jump scares have a limited shelf life & Lovecraft’s ability to shock has long expired, but there is something in his stories which still rises to Ligotti’s challenge. This component piece of Lovecraft is ageing well and is more acutely pertinent today than it was when I first read him as a teenager. It has comfortably assumed a new precedence in the stories. Call Lovecraft’s characters one-dimensional if you must, I’ll concede at least that the rotating dramatis personae of antiquarians, scientists and academics are indistinguishable from one another. But he’s a more patient & meticulous writer than anyone working in the immense ambit of his legacy. New England architecture, arctic geography, alien biology, family histories, fossil patterns, etc. are lovingly, sometimes appallingly, detailed. This can be a slog to read through but it creates the sense of a lived in world. This is very important for the meaning & effect of his stories. The minutiae of the world, which Lovecraft archives very well, is exactly as meaningful as it helps people navigate their busy little lives. But implanted in an even slightly broadened perspective, it becomes the subject of cosmic horror stories with power that reaches undiminished across the long & varied century since they were written. As Ray Brassier said of our species, we ‘crafty apes with opposable thumbs’ have catalogued and indexed an almost unbelievable scope of the cosmos, an extraordinary accomplishment which Lovecraft duly reveres. In his stories, the sincerity & nobility of scientific enterprise is never stymied by romantic or sentimental conceitedness. But this earnestness and courage in science is always inevitably humiliated by the literally unthinkable vastness of its address. Astronomers and geologists are doing the best and most important work humanly possible; it’s just, in proportion to its context, human possibility is unimportant and insignificant. I cracked open this collection because it contained several stories I hadn’t read. Unfortunately they were mostly inessential juvenalia, a sequence of Lovecraft’s Dunsany-inspired dreamscape stories. These stories are...fine but somewhat forgettable, and indistinct upon recollection. The real draw to ‘The Thing on the Doorstep & other Weird Stories’ are 3 of Lovecraft’s best known & longest works, all of which are full-throated in his own voice; Charles Dexter Ward, The Dunwich Horror & At the Mountains of Madness. Together they span more than half the collection & especially read in succession, they seem to go on forever. Despite their seemingly interminable aggregate length & unified representation of Lovecraft’s artistic maturity, there’s a sea change between each text and they have bold & discreet identities. That said, if I were editing these collections, I wouldn’t have stacked them all atop one another. Incidentally, I think Nick Land is the only inheritor of Lovecraft worthy of the name. And not just because they’re both deranged eugenicists with skeletal bodies made from angles & elbows. I didn’t touch on this enough in my, shall we say, expansive review of Fanged Noumena, but Land’s earnest attempt to represent a cosmic materialism unvarnished by human self esteem is more Lovecraftian than the thousand year reich of b-movie tentacle monsters. In Land, as in Lovecraft, the quest for meaning is portrayed as embarrassing & slightly hysterical. But a splenetic angst always arises in rebellion against the cleaving toward ahuman perspectives & if the dark Promethean act survives amidst this opprobrium, it is obviated by our biological limitations. (actually Thomas Ligotti is good for this too, but I’ve written about that elsewhere) What does Science Fiction mean when the day-to-day life of your average first-world reader contains more technological marvels than the wildest speculation of books released just several decades prior? What does Horror mean when the population of earth lives in a constant state of emergency? What kind of realism would not deal with these vectors? Does the genre just refer to a narrative emphasis on the excitations of spectacle rather than the mindful pleasures of serious literature? In that case, Lovecraft is not a science fiction writer, and despite his own suspiciously overstated protestations to the contrary, he has far more in common with Eliot and Pound than comic books and alien invasion films. ‘Realism’ can’t possibly keep up with reality anymore; in the time that it takes to write a novel its cultural-technological paradigm for (post)((post))(((meta?)))modernity will be obsolete. Whatever the fate of realism & fantasy as storytelling devices, Lovecraft seems more true to life than ever in 2018.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Five stars for how influential Lovecraft has been and for his amazing imagination. I give it one star for ease of readability. Somehow that equals out to be four stars. :) I enjoyed some of these way more than others. I'm too lazy to go and get the actual book to see the title names, though, so it will remain a mystery, but some are better than others. Another read-aloud with my husband. Lovecraft is not easy to read aloud. Five stars for how influential Lovecraft has been and for his amazing imagination. I give it one star for ease of readability. Somehow that equals out to be four stars. :) I enjoyed some of these way more than others. I'm too lazy to go and get the actual book to see the title names, though, so it will remain a mystery, but some are better than others. Another read-aloud with my husband. Lovecraft is not easy to read aloud.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    This is a good introduction to Lovecraft's stories if you haven't read any. This is a good introduction to Lovecraft's stories if you haven't read any.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    This book contains some of the best short stories I've ever read, despite a few of them feeling unfinished. One of the best is The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the story of a man seeking out the truth about his great-great-great grandfather, and the terrible secrets that he uncovered in this search. My favorite story of all, though, is At the Mountains of Madness. Lovecraft masterfully built suspense page after page until the reader feels overwhelmed by the horrible realities that an antarctic ex This book contains some of the best short stories I've ever read, despite a few of them feeling unfinished. One of the best is The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the story of a man seeking out the truth about his great-great-great grandfather, and the terrible secrets that he uncovered in this search. My favorite story of all, though, is At the Mountains of Madness. Lovecraft masterfully built suspense page after page until the reader feels overwhelmed by the horrible realities that an antarctic expedition has uncovered. I highly recommend this book, and I'm not ever a big fan of the Cthulhu mythos, which Lovecraft is probably most widely known for. Don't make the mistake of passing this one up thinking that's all he has to offer.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Arkskier

    This review refers to the penguin horror edition. About the Author Lovecraft is considered by many as a great 20th century horror story writer. Stephen King considers him the “single largest influence” on his writing. And the Mexican Director Guillermo del Toro, of Pan’s Labyrinth fame, considers Lovecraft his favorite writer of all. Even the Argentine fabulist Jorge Borges was influenced by Lovecraft. Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He was an only child This review refers to the penguin horror edition. About the Author Lovecraft is considered by many as a great 20th century horror story writer. Stephen King considers him the “single largest influence” on his writing. And the Mexican Director Guillermo del Toro, of Pan’s Labyrinth fame, considers Lovecraft his favorite writer of all. Even the Argentine fabulist Jorge Borges was influenced by Lovecraft. Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He was an only child born to a jewelry salesman. His father and mother would later both, separately, be committed to a mental institution. Lovecraft was precocious as a child, writing poems from the age of six. He was also a voracious reader, especially of chemistry and astronomy, although he struggled with the requisite mathematics. Because of nervous ill health, he left high school without a diploma and spent his years as a recluse with his overprotective mother until her death. He published his first story “The Alchemist” in 1916 in United Amateur, when he was 26. In 1921, his mother died, which devastated him. At age 34, he left for New York in 1924 to marry Sonia Greene, a Russian Jewish immigrant. Around that time, he became a star writer for the pulp magazine “Weird Tales”, even ghost writing a story for Harry Houdini. When Sonia’s hat shop collapsed, Lovecraft tried applying for a job – salesman, lamp-tester; he tried applying to publishing companies, advertising agencies, but they all rejected him. Sonia soon took a job in the Midwest, and Lovecraft lived alone in Brooklyn Heights. Soon they separated and he returned to Providence in 1926 (after 2 years of marriage) where he became more social and travelled more. This return caused a surge in his creative output. But he still had no steady occupation, and the money he received as a writer was measly. He often went without food to save money for mailing letters. In 1936, he was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestines, and lived in pain until his death in 1937. He died in poverty. Lovecraft was virtually unknown during his lifetime, and only achieved fame after his death. Review This 500-page collection contains what Lovecraft considers his “best work” of fiction, in particular 10 short stories and two short novels. It covers a wide span, from his earliest short stories written in his 20s (“The Tomb”) to his novellas written in his 30s and 40s (“The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”, “At the Mountains of Madness”). Lovecraft was heavily influenced by Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, and Poe, among others, and these influences can be seen in his work. The penguin edition is helpful in this regard: It includes many helpful scholarly notes at the end, which shows us that many characters and places in Lovecraft’s tales are based on real people and real places in his life. Many of the mythical, historical, and fictional allusions in his work can also be traced back to books which he’d read and kept in his personal library. In some cases, he invents nonexistent books like the “Necronomicon” and mentions them again and again in several of his stories as if they really existed in history. Pros and Cons I find Lovecraft strange. This is his greatest merit. His brain seems to work very differently from the rest of us. Reading him is like slowly realizing that you are reading the diary of a madman who is pretending to be sane. I get the same feeling when I read Lautreamont, Michaux, and Bataille. In “The Tomb,” for example, a boy leaves his house every night to enter a sepulcher and sleep inside a tomb. In “Pickman’s Model,” the narrator slowly begins to realize that the demon paintings by his artist friend were not drawn from imagination but from real-life demons. “At the Mountains of Madness” is about aliens who lived on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs. My absolute favorite story in the collection is “The Quest of Iranon,” a story written by Lovecraft when he was 31. It’s a very beautifully written story about our search for the perfect place in the world, with a nice twist in the end. Lovecraft works best with short stories. His themes are usually some unknown, something that is too horrible to describe in full. His stories are about strange, intelligent, solitary characters with strange obsessions that cause their ultimate downfall. Another thing I like in Lovecraft is that he is very well-read. His stories include references to historical events, scientific discoveries, old books, and works by other authors. Lovecraft’s weakness is novels. His novels are really only very long short stories that drag on and on. Lovecraft’s fascination for landscape and architecture also causes him to write overlong descriptions of places that to my mind can be shortened by at least 50%. His prose in these cases becomes unwieldy, repetitive, and lumbering. With novels, Lovecraft tends to be long-winded. Thus, they can be tedious to read. Lovecraft works best with short stories. There, his weirdness can be received in small, delicious gulps.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Would have been 2 stars if I just took my average rating of the five stories included in this collection. But a short story collection should have at least one story I enjoy reading. And this didn't. In the end I really had to fight through this book, which clearly means 1 star for me. The collection I've read (in German) contains the following stories: - Das Ding auf der Schwelle (The Thing on the Doorstep) - Der Außenseiter (The Outsider) - Die Farbe aus dem All (The Colour Out of Space) - Träume im Would have been 2 stars if I just took my average rating of the five stories included in this collection. But a short story collection should have at least one story I enjoy reading. And this didn't. In the end I really had to fight through this book, which clearly means 1 star for me. The collection I've read (in German) contains the following stories: - Das Ding auf der Schwelle (The Thing on the Doorstep) - Der Außenseiter (The Outsider) - Die Farbe aus dem All (The Colour Out of Space) - Träume im Hexenhaus (The Dreams in the Witch-House) - Der Schatten aus der Zeit (The Shadow Out of Time) For me 'Die Farbe aus dem All' was the best of the five stories. But even that one I wouldn't give a 3 star rating. Maybe H.P. Lovecraft's weird tales are just not my cup of tea.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth R.

    By what benign grace I clawed my slow, grimacing way through seemingly endless wastes of adjectives and repetition I may never know -- possibly the protective spectre of my younger self, a blithely voracious reader apparently immune to such trappings of the patriarchy... At any rate the title story, placed last, was pretty good, but the Gothic horror flavour of the rest was tainted with incessant racism and a singular lack of good female characters (a few evil and/or stupid ones exist). Skinny si By what benign grace I clawed my slow, grimacing way through seemingly endless wastes of adjectives and repetition I may never know -- possibly the protective spectre of my younger self, a blithely voracious reader apparently immune to such trappings of the patriarchy... At any rate the title story, placed last, was pretty good, but the Gothic horror flavour of the rest was tainted with incessant racism and a singular lack of good female characters (a few evil and/or stupid ones exist). Skinny single white professional males abound, with little or no interest in romance, etc. I recommend this volume nonetheless because of the notes and commentary. HPL does not stand up well to rereading... Remember your youthful Cthulhu forays with fondness, but return at your peril.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex (ReadingBetweenTheNotes)

    I rarely rate short story collections higher than 3 stars but this was brilliant! There wasn't a single story in this collection that I didn't like. Obviously, some were better than others and some were a bit long and waffling, with others a bit short for my liking and feeling underdeveloped - but most were fabulous. Lovecraft certainly knows how to write a monster! I liked that there were recurring themes within the stories and Lovecraft's whole invented mythology of the Old Ones was amazing an I rarely rate short story collections higher than 3 stars but this was brilliant! There wasn't a single story in this collection that I didn't like. Obviously, some were better than others and some were a bit long and waffling, with others a bit short for my liking and feeling underdeveloped - but most were fabulous. Lovecraft certainly knows how to write a monster! I liked that there were recurring themes within the stories and Lovecraft's whole invented mythology of the Old Ones was amazing and creepy. The nods to Edgar Allen Poe were nice too. I think my favourite stories in this collection were The Dunwich Horror, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and Under the Pyramids - all were awesomely weird and superbly well developed. Under the Pyramids was particularly great and had me wondering why I've never read anything like it before?! The concept was brilliant and the Egyptian setting worked brilliantly. Overall conclusion: yes to Lovecraft!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    This took me a little longer than I thought. I love Lovecraft and like the majority of theses stories, but I found this one longer than the other collection I've read (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories). There was one story called "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" that I thought went on a little too long, but I still enjoyed it, but maybe my least favorite in the book. That story was about 100 pages too long. My two favorite stories in this were "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" and "Under th This took me a little longer than I thought. I love Lovecraft and like the majority of theses stories, but I found this one longer than the other collection I've read (The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories). There was one story called "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" that I thought went on a little too long, but I still enjoyed it, but maybe my least favorite in the book. That story was about 100 pages too long. My two favorite stories in this were "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" and "Under the Pyramids." I found it kind of neat Lovecraft ghost wrote a story for Harry Houdini. I still think Lovecraft is one of (if not) the best horror writers of our time. Good mix of Gothic New England, fearing the unknown, and writing about the human mind going insane. I have one more Penguin anthology I have to read and will save that for another time, but I highly recommend Lovecraft this time of year...or any if you want to feel like a mad man.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Paw

    Finally finished this! Had to skip the explanatory notes at the end.. What a chore to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    DNF'd around 20% in because Lovecraft is a pretty big racist and I just can't look past that! I guess I'll never know what Call of Cthulu has to offer and honestly I'm okay with that. DNF'd around 20% in because Lovecraft is a pretty big racist and I just can't look past that! I guess I'll never know what Call of Cthulu has to offer and honestly I'm okay with that.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shepard

    Lovecraft is odd. Freaking nuts. Psychadelic. But holy crap can he write good stories! Not gonna lie, if you don't like the paranormal, bending-reality, Tim Buron/Stephen King style, Lovecraft might be hard to enjoy. But he's so worth a try. :) He's the original master of thriller, horror, and supernatural suspense! All of his stories are intense, suspenseful, unique thrillers. You might not scream or be afraid of the dark after each one, but you'll definitely get that mental chill when he reveal Lovecraft is odd. Freaking nuts. Psychadelic. But holy crap can he write good stories! Not gonna lie, if you don't like the paranormal, bending-reality, Tim Buron/Stephen King style, Lovecraft might be hard to enjoy. But he's so worth a try. :) He's the original master of thriller, horror, and supernatural suspense! All of his stories are intense, suspenseful, unique thrillers. You might not scream or be afraid of the dark after each one, but you'll definitely get that mental chill when he reveals that that one man wasn't who you thought, or the music was playing by itself all along, or maybe the main character was the crazy one, and all you can say is, "Whhhaaaaaaatttt????" Lovecraft has such skill with piling plot, climax, tension, and character into each short story. You may not love each character, but you grow immensely attached to them; they are your guide through whatever universe Lovecraft has placed them in. No story is alike. Pretty much, if you like Supernatural, Welcome to Night Vale, X-Files, Stephen King, or Tim Burton, you'll love their original inspiration: Lovecraft.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    I love H.P. Lovecraft. I'm about to start reading Penguin's third and final volume of his collected stories and am dreading the day I run out. He's the author I remember wishing I could read in middle school but didn't know existed (although I tried writing a few disastrous stories of my own). I thought this one line from At the Mountains of Madness (1931) sums him up neatly: "It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth's dark, dead corners and unplumbed de I love H.P. Lovecraft. I'm about to start reading Penguin's third and final volume of his collected stories and am dreading the day I run out. He's the author I remember wishing I could read in middle school but didn't know existed (although I tried writing a few disastrous stories of my own). I thought this one line from At the Mountains of Madness (1931) sums him up neatly: "It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth's dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    There is a thin line between "subtle, creeping horror" and "extremely dull." Lovecraft mostly knows where that line is. (There is also a thin line between "establishing setting through detailed description" and "I did a shit-tonne of research and you're going to hear about it." Lovecraft has no idea where that line is.) There is a thin line between "subtle, creeping horror" and "extremely dull." Lovecraft mostly knows where that line is. (There is also a thin line between "establishing setting through detailed description" and "I did a shit-tonne of research and you're going to hear about it." Lovecraft has no idea where that line is.)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hugh

    I learned that you should never dig up bodies in graveyards for any reason whatsoever, not even if your oldest friend (who has progressively gone made from dabbling in evil science) asks for your help.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kia Groom

    Lovecraft's stories are curious, intense and chilling. He is a genuine master of the genre and the short story form. Lovecraft's stories are curious, intense and chilling. He is a genuine master of the genre and the short story form.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephane Lionel

    Another one of his Lovraftian pleasures that makes you shiver, because the horror and phantasmagorical universe of the author are so deeply portrayed in it with Brio. The thing on the threshold is a Lovecraft must-have, no matter how much I read and reread, I didn't find a negative point so I actually think the shorter it is the more intense the pleasure. Even if we quickly get to the heart of the matter, Lovecraft still allows us to identify the main characters (Dan Upton, Edward Derby, Asenath Another one of his Lovraftian pleasures that makes you shiver, because the horror and phantasmagorical universe of the author are so deeply portrayed in it with Brio. The thing on the threshold is a Lovecraft must-have, no matter how much I read and reread, I didn't find a negative point so I actually think the shorter it is the more intense the pleasure. Even if we quickly get to the heart of the matter, Lovecraft still allows us to identify the main characters (Dan Upton, Edward Derby, Asenath Waite...) to know their antecedents e. g. Asenath is the daughter of the old Ephraim Waite already in the new "Shadows over Innsmouth". The very essence of his works is this gothic, terrifying, anguishing and even oppressive atmosphere without being gory. Although I have given up reading "the mountains of madness" because of the abusive description of the geological and pre-Cambrian landscape... well, I would like to get back to it, especially because of the enthusiasm aroused or rather revived after this rich reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anil Gangapersaud

    Lovecraft's storytelling is unmatched unfathomed and unexplainable Lovecraft's storytelling is unmatched unfathomed and unexplainable

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    My first introduction to HPL. It was without a doubt a difficult read for the numerous references as well as a century old language. Even though it took me at least three minutes to read a page, it was an interesting read. Very easy to get distracted but he is a great author. I like the type of horror he created. All the pieces in this hook were unique, and tying together with his imaginary places and people. All in all I look forward to the necronomicon. 👍

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jakob Johnson

    So like, when I say "finished" I mean that I read all the stories in it that I wanted to. Those parts were phenomenal though. So like, when I say "finished" I mean that I read all the stories in it that I wanted to. Those parts were phenomenal though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    valeria

    3.5 Some were great but Lovecraft has a tendency to ramble and it got old real fast. Also the audacity to write a story about salem witches and not have a single female witch?

  26. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    This collection didn't grab me the way that Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories did. Mountains of Madness is a classic, of course, and Dunwich Horror is fun--but they didn't particularly capture me as such; it was more that I wanted to take the worldbuilding he'd done and make plots with it. This collection didn't grab me the way that Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories did. Mountains of Madness is a classic, of course, and Dunwich Horror is fun--but they didn't particularly capture me as such; it was more that I wanted to take the worldbuilding he'd done and make plots with it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Shay

    Having not read/experienced Lovecraft before, I wasn't sure what to expect at first. Having read 2 other books in the Penguin Horror series, though, I should have expected a lack of true horror. I keep hoping for something that can really scare me, but maybe paper is just not capable of that like movies are. The majority of the 12 stories included in this volume were short and centered around the same themes. The protagonist of the story saw or experienced something terrifying, and either claims Having not read/experienced Lovecraft before, I wasn't sure what to expect at first. Having read 2 other books in the Penguin Horror series, though, I should have expected a lack of true horror. I keep hoping for something that can really scare me, but maybe paper is just not capable of that like movies are. The majority of the 12 stories included in this volume were short and centered around the same themes. The protagonist of the story saw or experienced something terrifying, and either claims they must have gone mad for a time, had a terrible nightmare, or end up dying in attempt to escape whatever horror it is. The horrors are described so vaguely as to be essentially pointless, probably to allow the reader to conjure up the scariest thing they can on their own, but I don't think my brain works that way. This would have been a 2 star review, but for two stories in the volume: "The Mountains of Madness" and "The Dunwich Horror". Both of these deviated from the content and style from the rest of the stories so much that I was rather surprised they were from the same author, barring the Necronomicon, Elder Ones, Miskatonic University, etc, references. I did like how the horrors from all these stories cross each other's paths in a way, in that Lovecraft has established a universe in which certain creatures exist, and all his stories seem to exist in this universe, rather than each story being a creation on its own in regards to is monsters. But the two named stories were my favorite because, unlike the rest, they didn't spare the reader. The horrors in these stories are described in such detail that it takes multiple pages. "The Dunwich Horror" reminded me rather of the plot line of Dracula, in that outside parties have to come to a certain town to eradicate the horror and save the people, and "The Mountains of Madness" was interesting on an intellectual level because, at the time, Antarctica wasn't well explored, and the story was all the more possible given the reality of the unknown. I wouldn't go so far as to say either were scary, but certainly the appearance of the horrors raises questions as to how Lovecraft came to create and decide upon such beasts.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Libuska Lane

    Reading these stories was a ‘hit or miss’ experience. Some of them were creative, creepy and intriguing. Others made me kind of bored. General observations about Lovecraft’s stories: – I love the way Lovecraft builds a creepy atmosphere. He explores a setting, or sometimes a character, and gradually lets us know something is very wrong here. – I also love his endings, especially when he ends with an extra twist. – I like the content of most of his stories. He puts a unique spin on familiar tropes, a Reading these stories was a ‘hit or miss’ experience. Some of them were creative, creepy and intriguing. Others made me kind of bored. General observations about Lovecraft’s stories: – I love the way Lovecraft builds a creepy atmosphere. He explores a setting, or sometimes a character, and gradually lets us know something is very wrong here. – I also love his endings, especially when he ends with an extra twist. – I like the content of most of his stories. He puts a unique spin on familiar tropes, and even though he repeats a lot of his own tropes, he keeps most of his stories different from each other through the setting and source of the horrors. – I do not like the extent to which he uses enumerations. Yes, they can add atmosphere and credibility to your story, but we don’t need a list of every single item a group of explorers took to Antarctica. – I also don’t like how vague Lovecraft is in some of his descriptions of monstrous creatures. He often describes them as ‘so horrible that it’s impossible to describe’. Don’t just tell me the monster is so horrible. Give me some sort of idea of the horror. Lovecraft is good at creepy descriptions when he does use them, and he is also good at hinting things without outright showing or telling. So either keep hinting and don’t actually have the monster emerge, or let it emerge and actually describe it. The Tomb ★★★ This story feels to me like a pretty typical classic horror story: not as unique or memorable as some of the others, but it’s creepy and has pretty good pacing. Beyond the Wall of Sleep ★★ What reality do dreams take place in? That is the central question in this story. Unfortunately, I found the content a bit weak. It didn’t creep me out or immerse me in an interesting setting, and it didn’t have much payoff at the end. The White Ship ★ This is not a horror story. It is a magical travel story, and there is no plot or character work whatsoever aside from the travel. If you’re going to write this type of story, I’m going to need really, really, really good setting descriptions to become immersed. It did not deliver this. The descriptions were not specific enough to be interesting or set enough of a mood for me to like the story. The Temple ★★ This story uses a heavily biased and opinionated narrator, and I’m still not sure whether to find this choice impressive or offensive. The main character is basically a purposefully unlikeable caricature of a German purist. I found the payoff weak, just like with the previous two stories. The description of the (view spoiler)[lost city (hide spoiler)] that the main character finds is much too vague. You’ve found (view spoiler)[Atlantis (hide spoiler)] ! Describe it to us then! And give us just a bit more of an idea what magical or horrible thing lurks inside. The Quest of Iranon ★★ Another travel story without a horror element, but this one I liked better than ‘The White Ship’. It reminds me of a myth or a fairy tale. It’s not really my genre of story, and it feels quieter than most of the other stories, but it’s not badly written. The mood here is dreamy and melancholy, and there isn’t much plot or character development. The Music of Erich Zann ★★★ In this story, Lovecraft proves that he can write immersive visual descriptions after all. The description of the steep street with the overhanging buildings is unique, sets the mood and is much easier for me to visualize than the descriptions in some of his travel stories. I also like the role of music in this story. The only reason I rated this 3 rather than 4 stars is that when the horrible thing itself showed up, it was described in the ‘impossible to describe’ way that I don’t like, and the way the thing (view spoiler)[showed up so briefly and didn’t do all that much (hide spoiler)] felt anticlimactic to me as well. Several stories in this bundle could have benefited from being more concise, but I think this one could actually have benefited from being a bit longer. Under the Pyramids ★★★★ In terms of atmosphere, this was my favorite story in the bundle. I was skeptical of this one at first, since it features Houdini (a real person) as its main character. But this story does a great job of building up a spooky atmosphere and describing the setting. I also loved the twist at the end, though I did see it coming. I do think that this story relies too much on size and quantity. Not everything has to be enormous in order to be creepy. Warning: Just like the rest of the story, the portrayal of Egypt is very over-the-top, sometimes to the point of being offensive. Pickman’s Model ★★★ I don’t have strong feelings about this story, other than that I enjoyed the role of art and the idea of hidden underground places. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward ★★ The story was fine, but it dragged on for much too long. This really needed to be more concise for me to enjoy it better. The Dunwich Horror ★★ I found this story overall less interesting than most of the other horror stories. It also contains two ‘horrors’, and the second is supposed to be scarier than the first, but I actually found the first one creepier, so that made the second one kind of a bummer. At the Mountains of Madness ★★ I liked how the Antarctic setting gave this story a unique atmosphere. Just like ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ and ‘The Dunwich Horror’, this story was a lot slower than I would have liked it to be. I didn’t need so many enumerations and such an elaborate history of various horror alien species. However, the slow pacing did suit this story better than the other two I mentioned, because it made the expedition feel very real. I really enjoyed the various discoveries the characters made, the exploration of the setting, and the implications of how certain recurring details related to each other. I did expect more of a twist out of the ending, and I didn’t care much about the second set of mountains, since they were not actually explored in the story. The Thing on the Doorstep ★★★★ In terms of plot content, this was my favorite story in the bundle. That phone call gave me the creeps! The writing style is more distanced compared to ‘Under the Pyramids’, with a lot of ‘telling’, not much visual description, and a narrator who tries to be rational and doesn’t believe in many of the horror elements for a large part of the story. At the same time, it is more character-focused, giving us a good idea of Edward Derby's personality and mental state, which makes the changes that he undergoes more interesting. Near the beginning, it felt obvious what was going on, but there was more than just that one thing, and these extra twists and details made the story creepier and more unique.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kthxbai!

    Yet again I find myself wishing for the option of giving half-stars, for this book truly deserves 4.5 stars instead of 4. Okay, 4.25. Despite the fact that the author, himself, expressed displeasure at many of the tales included in this collection, it still demonstrates quite distinctly Lovecraft's affinity for the grotesque and uncanny. He clearly reveled in prickling our primal fears with loathsome, sinister, and (dare I say) “Cyclopean” fiends and freaks which roam everywhere from the backwoo Yet again I find myself wishing for the option of giving half-stars, for this book truly deserves 4.5 stars instead of 4. Okay, 4.25. Despite the fact that the author, himself, expressed displeasure at many of the tales included in this collection, it still demonstrates quite distinctly Lovecraft's affinity for the grotesque and uncanny. He clearly reveled in prickling our primal fears with loathsome, sinister, and (dare I say) “Cyclopean” fiends and freaks which roam everywhere from the backwoods and cityscapes of New England to the uncharted heights of the Antarctic. And he obviously understood the breathtaking terror that grips even the stoutest of hearts when the lights go out and one finds oneself crawling on hands and knees to escape the unspeakable horrors just around the corner... It's rare that the written word manages to truly frighten me, yet I gleefully admit that I found myself tense and jumpy more than once. (Granted, I am among the more easily frightened – but then, that's where the fun is.) So why not a full five stars? Sadly, Lovecraft's regrettable and distasteful ethnocentricity (if not outright bigotry) rears its ugly head numerous times throughout the collection. In some cases, it's little more than a mention of a seedy character's ethnic background – irritating (especially for those of us who happen share that particular ethnic background) but fleeting. At other times, though, Lovecraft's heavy-handed defamations actually distract from the story itself, breaking the delicately woven spell – and reminding the reader that the worst evils lurk not in ocean depths or frozen wastelands but in petty human hearts everywhere.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Harris

    Rating: 3.5 stars I have been fascinated by H.P. Lovecraft and his worlds for years now, but have only just recently gotten the chance to actually read his works. When I saw this book at Half Price Books a few years ago I told myself, "Finally, I can actually read the stories people have been hyping to me about." It was to my surprise that I was both delighted and annoyed with this collection of stories. Delighted in that I found many of the short stories had a lot going for them such as "Pickman Rating: 3.5 stars I have been fascinated by H.P. Lovecraft and his worlds for years now, but have only just recently gotten the chance to actually read his works. When I saw this book at Half Price Books a few years ago I told myself, "Finally, I can actually read the stories people have been hyping to me about." It was to my surprise that I was both delighted and annoyed with this collection of stories. Delighted in that I found many of the short stories had a lot going for them such as "Pickman's Model," "Beyond the Wall of Sleep," and "The Quest of Iranon." They were different than I expected, more science fiction than horror, which I found refreshing, to say the least. The stories were weird in the sense that they had strange elements to them and never fully explained their bizarreness (which I found to be to their credit--let me do some work on my end). But as I started digging into his more well-known stories, the ones I was most excited to read ("The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," "Dunwich Horror," and "At the Mountains of Madness") I was less enthused by the end. To Lovecraft's credit, he is consistent in his writing, but to the point where it became predictable. There would be a first-person narrative, someone telling me that they didn't mean to do the things they did as they first appear but that they had to quote on quote "save the world," proceed to give a very long, often overly detailed account from the past to the present (where the narrator is currently writing from), the "I won't tell you what the creature/horror is but it is really terrifying so much so that I won't describe it because it is too horrible but you would be scared too if you saw it, but don't worry I'll be vague about it so you won't be (but sometimes I will describe it randomly to your confusion)" trope of Lovecraft, and then the "yep I told you so and that you should have believed me but also mystery *wiggles magic fingers*" ending. When this trope of Lovecraft's was done well--it was glorious. "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," did it the best and "At the Mountains of Madness," the least (it was infuriating and I wanted this story to be over). Lovecraft has a habit, in his writing, to mix horror of the unknown with "science" to make his characters, who are often scientists, professors, etc, sound more credible (and because it is, in fact, their profession), but what it often does is drag the story on for far too long, making the intrigue, mystery, and horror seem less so. It often made the pacing sporadic and tended to make it hard for me to pull through his longer stories. I found that when I thought about it, having scientific people and professors as protagonists were fitting for Lovecraft's dichotomy of "unknown versus the known," allowing us to truly be horrified by the unknown and its "cosmic horrors" when they reared their ugly heads, because, if we cannot rely on science, or intellect to save us--who can we rely on in the midst of unspeakable evil? That is the question Lovecraft poses to us often and often the answer is, "you can't truly defeat it but you can fight against it." Understanding this, though compelling, did not make the long scientific spells any more interesting or any more beneficial to the story as a whole. It is this same notion of "the known versus the unknown" that can also play against Lovecraft in his stories. They tend to begin and end the same for most of the ones connected to the Cthulhu mythos in this collection, which is rather disappointing, even if I understood the point. It was as though reading one was like reading all the others but with different character names or with different landscapes, but the same people--the same beginning and same ending climax. It made for a boring and predictable plot and destroyed a lot of the greatness I had in my head of Lovecraft's most well-known and highly-praised stories. Lovecraft has a style of writing I have a love-hate relationship with. When he writes shorter stories I find they truly feel mysterious, wondrous, and horrifying. They give all of the same feelings his longer stories are supposed to have but without the "fluff" added in. Usually, I am a huge fan of detailed writing and long prose, but this was often to Lovecraft's detriment. Few of his longer stories held my attention the entire way and often I had to slog through the last two readings, "Dunwich Horror" and "At the Mountains of Madness" because when it was interesting and gripping (Lovecraft's vagueness can be a great force when used well) I was hooked but when he started long tirades about longitudes, latitudes, and scientific equipment and his ungodly long lists I lost that passion which almost made you forget something horrifying, unknown, and ancient was lurking around the corner. To Lovecraft's credit, I never disliked these stories completely. There were always elements I found fascinating, and parts I truly felt would bring a cosmic horror to a reader should these things awaken from their slumbers, or be unleashed onto the world, if it wasn't often littered with disinterest, too similar tropes of Lovecraft in his story structure, and his often frustrating imbalance of being vague for its sake and being vague in a wonderful attempt at crafting the horror of the unknown, of the deep, of the dark and its effect on its narrator. I have discovered that reading these stories at once was a mistake. There is a thing as "too much Lovecraft" and if I had spaced these out more, it might have saved some of the annoyance due to not "binge" reading his work. Not reading these works all at once might save someone the frustration I felt of sameness, and of being bored out of my mind for a majority of his longer works because one might have more time to process their differences in full, and appreciate them for when they connected in arching plot points. (But maybe not, as this did take me forever to finish because of this.) I will continue to give Lovecraft a try, as I do find some of his work interesting and powerful when done right, but often I am left dissatisfied and unable to recommend this book highly to anyone who isn't invested in wanting to slog through the diamonds in the rough to find the true gems within.

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