Mike’s recommended Lovecraftian books
Here is a list of Lovecraftian books that I recommend. If you buy them through the links below, you’ll be supporting Lovecraft eZine without spending any extra money whatsoever. The list is divided into 4 categories: Lovecraftian Novels, Lovecraftian Anthologies (short story books), Lovecraftian Poetry, Lovecraftian Graphic Novels, and Lovecraftian non-fiction. Keep checking back, I’ll be adding to this list frequently (sign up for email updates and click the Facebook LIKE button to stay in the loop — both are on the right side of this webpage).
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not meant to a complete list of all the Lovecraftian books available; in fact, just the opposite. The books in the list below are the ones that I personally have enjoyed reading.
Words in italics are reviews from Amazon or the book website.
LOVECRAFTIAN ANTHOLOGIES AND/OR SHORT STORIES
Ancient Exhumations +2 - Short stories by Stanley C. Sargent. Containing nine imaginative tales from a darkly innovative mind, this collection features stories that range from the Lovecraftian-inspired and original Mythos creations to those that venture deeper into the realm of dark fiction. New and experienced readers of Lovecraft will be captivated by the horror and subtle humor of these carefully crafted stories.
Arkham Tales: Stories of the Legend Haunted City - Nestled along the Massachusetts coast, the small town of Arkham has existed for centuries. It is the source of countless rumors and legends. Those who have visited it each telling a different and remarkable account, whisper tales of Arkham. Reports of impossible occurrences, peculiar happenings and bizarre events, tales that test the sanity of the reader are to be found here. Magic, mysteries, monsters, mayhem, and ancient malignancies form the foundation of this unforgettable centuries’ old town. Collected in this volume are the strange and terrifying stories of the legend-haunted city.
Artifacts: Memories Out of Space and Time – Short stories by William Jones. ’Artifacts’ is a solid collection of short stories set in a variety of times and places. Ostensibly divided into two sections, one for stories set in the past and the other for stories set in the future, settings range from alien planets and space stations to the Old West. Threats come in a variety of forms, from science run amok to Lovecraftian horrors with the pervading theme being encounters with the alien unknown.
Black Wings – Tales of Lovecraftian Horror - Edited by S.T. Joshi. The work of H. P. Lovecraft continues to inspire many of the leading contemporary authors of horror and the supernatural. Caitlín R. Kiernan, Brian Stableford, and Nicholas Royle produce innovative deconstructions of Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model” and “The Hound.” Michael Shea transfers the Cthulhu Mythos to San Francisco, Laird Barron and Philip Haldeman set their Lovecraftian horrors in the Pacific Northwest, and Donald R. Burleson and William Browning Spencer enliven the parched Southwest with cosmic monsters. Ramsey Campbell, Jonathan Thomas, Jason Van Hollander, and others make Lovecraft himself a character in tales of cosmic menace, while David J. Schow and Michael Cisco ring new changes on the Lovecraftian concept of the forbidden book. These and other stories by Michael Marshall Smith, Norman Partridge, W. H. Pugmire, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Darrell Schweitzer, Donald R. and Mollie L. Burleson, Sam Gafford, and Adam Niswander all reveal how vital and vibrant the Lovecraftian idiom remains . . . and how terrifying.
The Book of Cthulhu - The Cthulhu Mythos is one of the 20th century”s most singularly recognizable literary creations. Initially created by H. P. Lovecraft and a group of his amorphous contemporaries (the so-called “Lovecraft Circle”), The Cthulhu Mythos story cycle has taken on a convoluted, cyclopean life of its own. Some of the most prodigious writers of the 20th century, and some of the most astounding writers of the 21st century have planted their seeds in this fertile soil. The Book of Cthulhu harvests the weirdest and most corpulent crop of these modern mythos tales. From weird fiction masters to enigmatic rising stars, The Book of Cthulhu demonstrates how Mythos fiction has been a major cultural meme throughout the 20th century, and how this type of story is still salient, and terribly powerful today.
The Book of Cthulhu II - Available in Kindle and paperback. I enjoyed this one even more than the first. There are some reprints, but the originals alone are worth the price, and if you haven’t read the reprints, this is a good anthology to add to your Lovecraftian collection. As I said, I’m really enjoying this one. Last year, Night Shade Books unleashed The Book of Cthulhu onto an unsuspecting world. Critically acclaimed as “the ultimate Cthulhu anthology” and “a ‘must read’ for fans of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos,” The Book of Cthulhu went where no collection of mythos tales had gone before: to the very edge of madness… and beyond. For nearly a century, H. P. Lovecraft’s tales of malevolent Great Old Ones existing beyond the dimensions of this world, beyond the borders of sanity, have captured and held the imaginations of writers and aficionados of the dark, the macabre, the fantastic, and the horrible. Now, because you demanded more, anthologist Ross E. Lockhart has risked all to dive back into the Cthulhu canon, combing through mind-shattering manuscripts and moldering tomes to bring you The Book of Cthulhu 2, with even more tales of tentacles, terror, and madness. Featuring monstrous stories by many of weird fiction’s brightest lights, The Book of Cthulhu 2 brings you even more tales inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s greatest creation: The Cthulhu mythos. This year, the stars are right… Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!
The Book of the Black Sun – From a review by Matthew Carpenter: ...his prose is highly readable and engaging. I was entertained from start to finish. His stories are driven by plot and imagery rather than dialogue or character development. Even his longer stories are often loosely connected paragraphs, almost self contained micrstories/images within a shared framework. It was all good, even if nothing stands out as a masterpiece. I will single out “There Was an Old Lady” as of special interest to shoggoth fans.
Cold Print – Ramsey Campbell short stories. Ramsey Campbell’s stories are an important contribution to the development of the mythology begun by Lovecraft and continued by Derleth and others. Rather than pastiche well-developed Lovecraftian entities and places, Campbell takes the core ideas (ancient survivals, subterranean catacombs, monstrous gods of old, etc.) and builds a parallel, contemporary mythology of his own. This one is set in the forests, lakes, and beaches of Britain, different books of horror such as “The Revelations of Glaaki”, and different beings of power, such as Eihort and Y’Golonac.
Cthulhu 2000 - The Shadow on the Doorstep in this collection is one of my favorite Lovecraftian stories. Editor Jim Turner has compiled a real page turner in Cthulhu 2000. His anthology of short stories based on the works of horrorist H.P. Lovecraft is a dark gem, and of superior stuff. Although they all have the coppery tang of the eldritch, the tales aren’t strictly in the horror mien. Some of them are an alloy of horror with a sci-fi, humor, detective, vampire or even romance slant.
Cthulhu’s Reign – Some of the darkest hints in all of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos relate to what will happen after the Old Ones return and take over the earth. What happens when Cthulhu is unleashed upon the world? What happens when the other Old Ones, long since banished from our universe, break through and descend from the stars? What would the reign of Cthulhu be like on a totally transformed planet where mankind is no longer the master? Find out in these exciting, brand-new stories.
Cthulhu Unbound - Imagine being free. Free from everything that defines you, that makes you easily recognizable as who you are. Welcome to a place where bleak noir cityscapes share a Technicolor sky with combat fighters, where you can find gunslingers from the Old West and a lost chapter from a literary classic, all with something in common: Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. This is a place where the Crawling Chaos has to solve his own murder and the Old Ones come up against the Gods of Las Vegas, a place where the new player in London’s underground isn’t human and masked heroes go toe-to-tentacle with eldritch horrors. This is a Mythos collection unlike any other. This is Lovecraft in many colors, many guises. This is Cthulhu–Unbound!
Dark Gods – Short stories by T.E.D. Klein. Simply put, this book is one of the best collections of horror fiction written in the latter half of the 20th Century. Similar to the work of H.P.Lovecraft thematically, but with very strong characterization, striking imagery, and contemporary themes; Klein tears aside the world of (frequently humorous) mundane existence, to reveal a landscape peopled by terrible monsters.
Dark Wisdom – Short stories by Gary Myers. The 12 simply narrated tales of terror in Myers s second collection (after 1975 s The House of the Worm) perfectly accommodate their stripped-down Lovecraftian themes. In ‘The Web’ two Web-surfing teens get more than they bargained for when they hack into an online edition of the Necronomicon and activate one of its spells. ‘The Big Picture’ tells of an ordinary guy whose fascination with stereoscopic games and picture puzzles sensitizes him to horrors that lurk behind the facade of the visible world. In ‘Understudy’ a Hollywood special effects artist who sculpts lifelike rubber monster outfits saves the day on an underwater monster flick when he brings in his living model to body-double for the movie s star. ‘What Rough Beast’ chronicles a terrified hitchhiker s flight from the eerie cult leader who arranged her impregnation. Myers often leavens the horror with wry humor, avoiding the cardinal horror sin of overdramatization. Fans of the Cthulhu mythos will welcome this new compilation from one of horror s most able contemporary practitioners.
Dead But Dreaming – In my opinion, one of the best Lovecraftian anthologies ever. A fiction anthology of fifteen original tales of Lovecraftian horror, edited by MRP’s Kevin Ross, with Keith Herber. Originally released in 2002 by DarkTales Publications, only seventy-five copies were printed before DarkTales was forced to close its doors. The book quickly became a prized collectors’ item, sometimes selling for over $300 on Ebay. More importantly, DBD was highly regarded by readers and critics, frequently cited as one of the best Lovecraft-inspired anthologies of the past decade. Stories by Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Mark Rainey, Darrell Schweitzer, Adam Niswander, Mike Minnis, and others deal with star-spanning science fiction, a zombie holocaust, the horrors of two different wars, the pyschology of cultists, voices from other dimensions and outer space, and frightening revelations about the origins of man. Revised & corrected edition, with author profiles and a new afterword by the editor.
Dead But Dreaming 2 – No one is safe. You aren’t safe. Ancient and inimical, the alien influences of the Cthulhu Mythos are all around us. In our cities, our nightclubs, our backyards, and heading for our front porches right now. From the dreaming city of Kingsport, Massachusetts, to the lonely northern woods and the barren western deserts. The urban sprawl and the distant lake. The depths of the Pacific and the freezing ruin of a starless Earth. They are here, destroying us, devouring us, shattering our minds with the one truth we cannot bear to admit: that no matter what we do we cannot escape the fact that, deep down, we are very much like them. Dead But Dreaming 2 is the second volume of the critically-acclaimed anthology series from Miskatonic River Press.
The Disciples of Cthulhu – Well-edited volume with an eye for quality fiction, no clinkers here, and the quality isn’t as uneven as some of the Chaosium anthologies seem to be. If you’re an HPL fan, this book is a must. If you’re not-a really good place to start. Most of he stories here are couched in contemporary language and are very accessible to the novice Cthuvian.
The Disciples of Cthulhu II - Bad things tend happen to people who go where they are not wanted, or who over-stay their welcome once they reach their destination. This book contains thirteen new personal explorations of the Cthulhu Mythos. As its title suggests, this is a companion volume to Edward P. Berglund’s earlier classic Mythos collection, The Disciples of Cthulhu. Both books are published by Chaosium, but their contents are entirely different. Twelve of the stories in Disciples II are original and have never been published before. All the stories record the dire fates of people whose destinies intertwine with the Mythos.
The Fungal Stain – By W.H. Pugmire. There you go: When I wrote “by W.H. Pugmire”, that’s really all the reason you need to buy this book. But if you need more: The theme of the book, as the author explains it, are “Lovecraftian dreams as thresholds to alien emotion, dimension, salvation, damnation.” Cross the threshold with one of the very few practitioners of Mythos fiction to win accolades from S. T. Joshi. Many and multiform are the pleasures this volume offers to Lovecraftians, including a hotly anticipated novelette set in Pugmire’s trademark locality, Sesqua Valley; a lengthy prose poem sequence; decadent, dreamlike vignettes in the style of Oscar Wilde, and much other new material.
The Further Adventures of Batman – Edited by Martin H. Greenberg. BATMAN? Seriously? Yep. Actually, though I’m a Batman fan, I did not care for most of these short stories. There’s one, though, that’s worth the price all by itself: Subway Jack, by Joe R. Lansdale. It’s truly a Lovecraftian Batman story, and it’s a great one (well, what else would you expect from Joe R. Lansdale?) I’ve returned to this story many times over the years. Well worth a read.
Future Lovecraft - Decades, centuries and even thousands of years in the future: The horrors inspired by Lovecraft do not know the limits of time…or space. Journey through this anthology of science fiction stories and poems inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Listen to the stars that whisper and drive a crew mad. Worship the Tloque Nahuaque as he overtakes Mexico City. Slip into the court of the King in Yellow. Walk through the streets of a very altered Venice. Stop to admire the beauty of the flesh-dolls in the window. Fly through space in the shape of a hungry, malicious comet. Swim in the drug-induced haze of a jellyfish. Struggle to survive in a Martian gulag whose landscape isn’t quite dead. But, most of all, fear the future.
The Great God Pan – The classic short story by Arthur Machen that every Lovecraft and horror fan should read. Plus, it’s free for Kindle. This novel has a wonderfully unique premise. The themes of the darker aspects of Greek Myth, sinister woods and what lurks within them, unreality right beneath our world, make for a delightfull story. While the plot is a bit mundane towards the center of the book, overall this is compensated for. If you’ve ever let your mind wander into the origins of ancient myths, and have been a bit shocked by what you imagine this is the book for you. The sexual aspect of the supernatural events is key, and overall adds to the one’s attraction and repulsion to the concepts beneath the surface of this book. Machen was akcknowledged by HP Lovecraft as a major influence, and one sees this here.
Hardboiled Cthulhu: Two-Fisted Tales of Tentacled Terror - Hard-hitting and hard-edged, these stories take Lovecraftian Mythos to places where only the toughest P.I.s, gangsters, and creatures dwell. Venturing into the urban sprawl and the dark places of the world, this anthology of more than 20 tales blends the hardboiled genre with the Lovecraftian.
The Hastur Cycle – 13 Tales of Horror Defining Hastur, the King in Yellow, Yuggoth, and the Dread City of Carcosa. The stories in this book evoke a tracery of evil rarely rivaled in horror writing. They represent the whole evolving trajectory of such notions as Hastur, the King in Yellow, Carcosa, the Yellow Sign, the Black Stone, Yuggoth, and the Lake of Hali. A succession of writers from Ambrose Bierce to Ramsey Campbell and Karl Edward Wagner have explored and embellished these concepts so that the sum of the tales has become an evocative tapestry of hypnotic dread and terror, a mythology distinct from yet overlapping the Cthulhu Mythos. Here for the first time is a comprehensive collection of all the relevant tales.
High Seas Cthulhu – Swashbuckling Adventure Meets the Mythos. Set during a time when tall ships roamed the oceans and creatures lurked in the dark depths, this collection of tales ranges from the reign of pirates to the Age of Napoleon to the present.
Horror for the Holidays – Holidays. Special days of commemoration and celebration. Feasts and festivities. Remembrance and revelry. But what dark things lurk just out of sight, in the shadows of those celebrated days? Forces beyond our comprehension, yearning to burst into our warm and comforting world and tear asunder those things we hold most dear. As the wheel of the year turns and we embrace our favorite occasions, let us not forget that beyond the light is a darkness, and in that darkness something stirs. Some nameless thing that brings us Horror for the Holidays!
Horrors Beyond: Tales of Terrifying Realities - Revealing that the world is filled with lurking creatures from other places and dimensions—creatures locked away by the laws that govern the universe—these tales explore what happens when mankind tampers with these laws and the barriers protecting them from such horrors are destroyed.
Horrors Beyond 2: Stories of Strange Creations - Featuring uncanny contraptions, weird devices, and technology beyond man’s control, these 21 tales of dark fiction explore the horrors outside everyday reality. Mad science, terrifying creatures, and dangerous discoveries are stretched across time and space, ultimately showing that when science pushes the boundaries of understanding, terrible things push back.
The Imago Sequence – Short stories by Laird Barron, one of the very few writers who can make me turn on lights and look over my shoulder while reading his work. To the long tradition of eldritch horror pioneered and refined by writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti, comes Laird Barron, an author whose literary voice invokes the grotesque, the devilish, and the perverse with rare intensity and astonishing craftsmanship. Collected here for the first time are nine terrifying tales of cosmic horror, including the World Fantasy Award-nominated novella “The Imago Sequence,” the International Horror Guild Award-nominated “Proboscis,” and the never-before published “Procession of the Black Sloth.” Together, these stories, each a masterstroke of craft and imaginative irony, form a shocking cycle of distorted evolution, encroaching chaos, and ravenous insectoid hive-minds hidden just beneath the seemingly benign surface of the Earth.
Lovecraft’s Legacy - No works by the eponymous legator himself are included in this tribute to the master of horror in his centennial year. His “legacy” is the theme around which these 14 stories are assembled, with an introduction by Robert Bloch, who acknowledges his personal debt to Lovecraft, and afterwords to each of the tales by such authors as Gene Wolfe, Hugh B. Cave and Ed Gorman. Gahan Wilson’s “H.P.L.” manages to sustain Lovecraft’s antiquated and baroque style. F. Paul Wilson invokes the concept of “cosmic horror” in the afterword to final story, “The Barrens . ” Indeed, the progression of the stories suggests that they were arranged to lead up to this “concept of another reality impinging on ours,” giving rise to an all-encompassing fear that lies beyond humanity’s comprehension.
Lovecraft Unbound – If I could recommend only one Lovecraftian anthology, this would be it. The stories are legendary, the characters unforgettable, the world horrible and disturbing. Howard Phillips Lovecraft may have been a writer for only a short time, but the creations he left behind after his death in 1935 have shaped modern horror more than any other author in the last two centuries: the shambling god Cthulhu, and the other deities of the Elder Things, the Outer Gods, and the Great Old Ones, and Herbert West, Reanimator, a doctor who unlocked the secrets of life and death at a terrible cost. In Lovecraft Unbound, more than twenty of today’s most prominent writers of literature and dark fantasy tell stories set in or inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
Mysteries of the Worm – Short stories by Robert Bloch. Mysteries of the Worm is a collection of early Robert Bloch stories, several of which had not seen print in over four decades, based on the Cthulhu Mythos cosmology created by H. P. Lovecraft. As a teenaged burgeoning author, Bloch attained a place in the lofty Lovecraft Circle in the two or three years before HPL’s untimely death, and his early writing was heavily influenced by Lovecraft. The earliest of these stories dates back to 1937.
New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird – Mostly reprints, but if you haven’t read these stories you will enjoy this book. For more than eighty years H.P. Lovecraft has inspired writers of supernatural fiction, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and gaming. His themes of cosmic indifference, the utter insignificance of humankind, minds invaded by the alien, and the horrors of history — written with a pervasive atmosphere of unexplainable dread — remain not only viable motifs, but are more relevant than ever as we explore the mysteries of a universe in which our planet is infinitesimal and climatic change is overwhelming it. In the first decade of the twenty-first century the best supernatural writers no longer imitate Lovecraft, but they are profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos he created. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird presents some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction — bizarre, subtle, atmospheric, metaphysical, psychological, filled with strange creatures and stranger characters — eldritch, unsettling, evocative, and darkly appealing.
The New Lovecraft Circle - H. P. Lovecraft was the eerily prescient genius who first electrified readers in Weird Tales magazine. His tales changed the face of horror forever and inspired the bloodcurdling offerings of a new generation. These brilliant dark visionaries forge grisly trails through previously uncharted realms of mortal terror.
Night Shift – Short stories by Stephen King. WHAT is this book doing here, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. King has written several very good Lovecraftian short stories, and this book contains one of them: I Am the Doorway. It won’t cost you much to pick it up at a used bookstore or at Amazon, so if you haven’t read it, you should. Besides, if you’re a Lovecraftian then you’re also a fan of general horror, and these are some great horror stories. I particularly enjoyed Night Surf, The Boogeyman, and One For the Road. In addition, King’s forward to this book is fantastic — it made me feel like I was right there with King on a rainy night. It begins: “Let’s talk, you and I. Let’s talk about fear. The house is empty as I write this; a cold February rain is falling outside. It’s night…” and ends with: “Where I am, it’s still dark and raining. We’ve got a fine night for it. There’s something I want to show you, something I want you to touch. It’s in a room not far from here — in fact, it’s almost as close as the next page. Shall we go?”
A Season in Carcosa – Edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. When Joe Pulver approached S. T. Joshi about doing an anthology like his now-famous tome Black Wings, only for Robert Chambers’ King in Yellow, Joshi had only one thing to say: ”You do it, Joe.” So he did. And here it is: A Season In Carcosa. H.P. Lovecraft. Karl Edgar Wagner. Peter Straub. Those are a few of the names that stand tall in our genre and when it comes to Robert W. Chambers and his King in Yellow they agree, Chambers’ beguiling tales of the King In Yellow and Carcosa are among the best in “weird” fiction. Miskatonic River Press and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. are proud and delighted to present an anthology of all new tales inspired by Chambers… In A Season In Carcosa readers will find the strange and mysterious places of heart and mind that spring from madness, and those minds and the places touched by it are the realms that are mined. Chambers’ legacy of the worms and soft decay that spring from reading the King In Yellow play stir both new and established talents in the world of weird fiction and horror to contribute all new tales that pay homage to these eerie nightmares. In Carcosa twilight comes and minds lost in the mirrors of lust and fear, are awash in legacies of shadows, not mercy. . .
Secret Hours – Short stories by Michael Cisco. From a review by Joe Pulver: There are lands and textures and frequencies few dare explore, fewer still are the wordsmiths, their fingers laced with magic and whorls ornamented in terrible and rich dreams, who return from chaos with such beguiling tales to tell. Cisco is one of the few. The music that issues from the 14 doors in this volume of bar-raising short works is among the finest in contemporary weird literature. Unsettling or haunting, these gifts of imagination transport the reader to districts in close proximity to the master of the modern weird tale, Thomas Ligotti.
The Shadow of the Unknown – Edited by A.J. French. Madness and the Mythos, the Surreal and the Sinister. Editor A.J. French has collected 29 tales of horror inspired by H. P. Lovecraft and the element of the unknown in supernatural fiction. Featuring stories by Gary A. Braunbeck, Gene O’Neill, Michael Bailey, Glynn Barrass, P.S. Gifford, Lee Clark Zumpe, James S. Dorr, Geoffrey H. Goodwin, Erik T. Johnson, R.B. Payne, and Ran Cartwright. Warning: Once you open the pages of this book, you willingly unleash a whirlwind of delirium and insanity that will creep into your mind. Think your sanity can withstand the assault…?
Shadows Over Baker Street - Another of my favorites. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is among the most famous literary figures of all time. For more than a hundred years, his adventures have stood as imperishable monuments to the ability of human reason to penetrate every mystery, solve every puzzle, and punish every crime. For nearly as long, the macabre tales of H. P. Lovecraft have haunted readers with their nightmarish glimpses into realms of cosmic chaos and undying evil. But what would happen if Conan Doyle’s peerless detective and his allies were to find themselves faced with mysteries whose solutions lay not only beyond the grasp of logic, but of sanity itself.
Shadows Over Innsmouth - Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft’s classic, today’s masters of horror take up their pens and turn once more to that decayed, forsaken New England fishing village with its sparkling treasure, loathsome denizens, and unspeakable evil.
Skeleton Crew – Short stories by Stephen King. There are two Lovecraftian short stories in this one — The Mist, and Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut. Everyone knows about the former, but Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut doesn’t seem to be as well known, and that’s a shame. It’s one of King’s best stories, very Lovecraftian, and very nostalgic. In terms of general horror, I also enjoyed The Jaunt quite a lot.
Soft From All the Blood – Edited by S.R. Jones. I really enjoyed this one, and you can’t go wrong for only $2.99. ”Some horror is meant to scare you, some to gross you out, yet Jones’ horror is meant to engage you, upset you, unsettle you. Cage-rattling horror … crawls under your skin, and lays eggs.” — Jordan Stratford, author of ‘Mechanicals’ 4.3 / 5 STARS “… a unique, modern and blood red gem of a book.” Martian Migraine Press is pleased to present S R Jones’ new collection SOFT FROM ALL THE BLOOD. Seven tales of surreal terror, ranging from the darkly comedic to the Lovecraftian and beyond…
The Taint of Lovecraft - Do you dare unearth the secrets of cosmic horror? Within these pages lie the horrifying resolutions to mysteries that have long haunted the devotees of H.P. Lovecraft. The infamous Lovecraft did his best to warn his readers of the unspeakable abominations lurking at the edges of our cosmos, awaiting the opportunity to slaughter mankind. Although Lovecraft died unexpectedly before he could tell all, another voice has taken up the crusade where Lovecraft left off, daring to provide answers vital to humanity’s survival. Lovecraft fans will be thrilled by a beautifully illustrated novella, short stories and even essays contained therein, all of them expounding on the work of the Master of Supernatural Horror.
Tales Out of Innsmouth - Innsmouth is a half-deserted, seedy little town on the North Shore of Massachusetts. It is rarely included on any map of the state. Folks in neighboring towns shun those who come from Innsmouth, and murmur about what goes on there. They try not to mention the place in public, for Innsmouth has ways of quelling gossip, and of taking revenge on troublemakers. Here are ten new tales and three reprints concerning the town, the hybrids who live there, the strange city rumored to exist nearby under the sea, and those who nightly lurch and shamble down the fog-bound streets of Innsmouth.
Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos - A glance at the table of contents would make this book seem to be a mixed bag; while it contains plenty of little-known stories by Mythos greats, it also has soem commonly reprinted stories by equally great authors such as Howard, Kuttner, and Bloch. This is the risk any anthologist runs in the Cthulhu Mythos; some stories are going to overlap with the contents of other books the reader owns. Price makes up for this in part by including variants of stories: “The Fire of Asshurbanipal,” for instance, is not the same as in most of its other print appearances. Ironically, this version is less a Cthulhu Mythos story here than in its more common version, but the story still has that Mythos atmosphere. All in all, considering the strength of the collection as a whole, few Mythos readers are going to mind rereading a few stories.
Teatro Grottesco – Short stories by Thomas Ligotti. Need I say more?
Terrors – Short stories by Richard Lupoff. But even then, what is a mere 2,000,000 years, even 5,000,000 years, in the history of a planet six billion years of age? What mighty species might have evolved in the seas or on the continents of this world, might have learned to think and to speak, to build towering cities and construct great engines, to compose eloquent poems and paint magnificent images… and then have disappeared, leaving behind no evidence that ever they had walked this Earth… or at least, no evidence of which we are aware?
Torn Realities - Torn Realities is not the typical Lovecraft Cthulhu anthology. Torn Realities deals with Lovecraft’s themes of forbidden knowledge, the idea that we are essentially untethered from the workaday world. Torn Realities explores lunacy-inducing creatures predating the dawn of man- keeping Lovecraft’s most famous theme (the idea of mind-boggling other gods) more general. The stories in this book actively seek the gray area in horror with tales of regular people in irregular situations.
Urban Cthulhu: Nightmare Cities – Short stories. What lurks in the damp recesses of urban existence? These new tales of weird fiction are a blend of urban horror, pulp noir and dark fantasy. Lovecraftian horrors and Cthulhu Mythos monsters have never been this gritty. From haunted Kingsport across the globe to shadowy Berlin and the otherworldly music of Bangalore. From kind, sexy neighbors to cyberpunk paranoia an The King in Yellow. A journalist’s search with unexpected results. What really happened to Walter Gilman, and what is the origin of the witch Keziah Mason? And witness humanity fail against the forces from beyond. From weird sounds to screams of madness. Entropy. Chaos. Disorder. Death. Beneath cities, on the outskirts of ruined, aeon-old cities and INSIDE cities. The stench, the decay, the hopelesness… it is everywhere. Welcome to URBAN CTHULHU: NIGHTMARE CITIES.
The Watchers Out of Time – I believe these are mostly August Derleth stories, but they were a good read.
The Amulet, by William Meikle – Derek Adams is a Glasgow PI with plenty of time on his hands. Until the Bogart Case walks in. A priceless family heirloom has been stolen and everyone in town is looking for it. The stars are right once more, and an ancient evil has been awakened from its dreaming sleep. It was supposed to be an easy case, fast money. But pretty soon Derek is up to his armpits in bodies, femme fatales and tentacles. The city’s dark side has him. And it doesn’t want to let the Midnight Eye go!
The Croning, by Laird Barron - Strange things exist on the periphery of our existence, haunting us from the darkness looming beyond our firelight. Black magic, weird cults and worse things loom in the shadows. The Children of Old Leech have been with us from time immemorial. And they love us…
Darkness on the Edge of Town, by Brian Keene – A favorite of mine. I picked it up on a whim one night at the bookstore because the premise sounded promising; as I read it, I realized how Lovecraftian this book was. Read it, you’ll see what I mean. One morning the residents of Walden, Virginia, woke up to find the rest of the world gone. Just . . . gone. Surrounding their town was a wall of inky darkness, plummeting Walden into permanent night. Nothing can get in – not light, not people, not even electricity, radio, TV, internet, food, or water. And nothing can get out. No one who dared to penetrate the mysterious barrier has ever been seen again. Only their screams were heard. But for some, the darkness is not the worst of their fears. Driven mad by thirst, hunger, and perpetual night, the residents of Walden are ready to explode. The last few sane prisoners of this small town must prepare a final stand against their neighbors, themselves, and something even worse . . . something out there . . . in the darkness.
The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich, by Fritz Leiber - One of my favorite books. Written in the 1930s, lost in the 1950s, and finally published in 1990s, this is one of Fritz Leiber’s more eclectic works. Part horror story and part science fiction whodunit, the tale begins as George Cramer arrives in Smithville, California, home of his college friends Daniel Kesserich and John Ellis. Ellis’s wife has died under mysterious circumstances, and now both he and Kesserich have gone missing. The townspeople seem to be hiding a hideous secret, and Cramer suspects all the clues lead back to unusual experiments Kesserich was conducting. A gripping tale in the style of H. P. Lovecraft but told with the grace of Leiber… In 1936, young Leiber, then in correspondence with the famous writer H.P. Lovecraft, drafted this eerie story.
Deeper, by James A. Moore - I really enjoyed this one; I’ve read it twice. An off-shore expedition ends in a fascinating discovery for a team of divers near New England. The thing they bring ashore is certainly unusual. Big mistake thinking it couldn’t survive on land. Bigger mistake thinking that it’s the only one of its kind.
Deep Night, by Greg F. Gifune - For Seth Roman and his younger brother Raymond, it was supposed to be a getaway from their dull, corporate jobs and empty, troubled lives, a week of card playing and drinking at a cabin in the remote woods of northern Maine. But when a young woman staggers into their camp with her clothes covered in blood, their lives are changed forever. The woman brings with her something ancient, deadly and inhuman. Held in its clutches, they must fight an all-consuming evil from which there is no escape, an evil born of the darkest corners of human existence.
Displaced Person - By Lee Harding. Like the reviewer I’m about to quote, I read this as a teenager in the 1980s, and 30 years later, it still stuck with me. Believe me, this is one of the best Lovecraftian books you’ll ever read. The following review is from Theo at Amazon.com: This is one of the books I read during my teenage years that really stuck with me. A quietly but genuinely disturbing work, it is not easily classifiable as science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Indeed, which of the three you choose will likely hinge on how you personally interpret this book. Displaced Person tells the story of a young adult just finishing school who finds himself gradually disappearing from the consciousness of those around him. It is a story that quietly, methodically builds up a kind of nameless cosmic dread with almost Lovecraftian skill. But whereas even Lovecraft has his Cthulhu mythos to offer some kind of explanation for the events that take place in his stories – however alien and unfathomable that explanation may be – what gives this work its special power is very largely the total absence of any explanation at all. The genuine sense of dread it builds is therefore perhaps founded on a bedrock of truth. It reminds us of the old adage that all we know is like a little island of knowledge in a vast sea of unknowing, and that we are, in the greater scheme of things, only very small creatures in an incomprehensibly vast and perhaps ultimately unknowable universe. From what I can gather, this work appears to have lapsed in relative obscurity. This is a pity, because it really is a very fine piece of young adult literature. If the time I have spent writing this review can reverse the current state of affairs in even a small way, I will consider that time extremely well spent.
The Eye of Infinity – Written by David Conyers, cover by Mike Dubisch, art by Nick Gucker. Nick sent this to me, and honestly, I thought it wasn’t really wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. Then I started reading a few pages… and it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. A fast-paced read with a great plot and some DAMN scary shoggoths! At a remote radio telescope facility in New Mexico, an astrophysicist commits suicide after contracting a hideous mutative plague caused by something he saw…and he won’t be the last. Major Harrison Peel has witnessed his share of cosmic atrocities before, but now he faces a threat worse than death and a powerful enemy that hides behind a human face. When a top-secret NASA program refuses to heed his warnings, Peel is catapulted into a nightmarish government conspiracy that takes him from Ft. Meade’s Puzzle Palace to the launchpads of Cape Canaveral; from the desolate Atacama Desert of Chile to the very heart of the universe itself, all in a desperate bid to close… The Eye of Infinity.
John Dies at the End, by David Wong – STOP. You should not have touched this book with your bare hands. NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late. They’re watching you. My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me. The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. Unfortunately for us, if you make the right choice, we’ll have a much harder time explaining how to fight off the otherworldly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity. I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was my fault.
A Night in the Lonesome October, by Roger Zelazny – One of my favorite books, and one I re-read every October. During a dank and damp autumn in the late 19th century, good dog Snuff loyally accompanies a mysterious knife-wielding gentleman named Jack on his midnight rounds through the murky streets of London – collecting the grisly ingredients needed for unearthly rite that will take place not long after the death of the moon. But Snuff and his master are not alone. All manner of participants, both human and undead, are gathering from Soho to Whitehall with their ancient tools and their animal familiars, in preparation of the dread night when black magic will summon the Elder Gods back to the world. Some have come to open the gates…an some to close them. It is brave, devoted Snuff who must calculate the patterns of the Game and keep track of the Players – the witch, the mad monk, the vengeful vicar, the Count who sleeps by day, the Good Doctor and the hulking Experiment Man he fashioned from body parts…and a wild-card American shapeshifter named Larry Talbot – all the while keeping ogres at bay, and staying a dog-leap ahead of the Great Detective, who knows quite a bit more than he lets on.
Nightmare’s Disciple, by Joseph S. Pulver, SR - Even a man of faith will find it no easy matter to discern and to follow the guidance of his god. What if that god is one of the Great Old Ones of the Necronomicon? And what if the will of that deity is for you to become its messiah? Will you prove worthy? How will you know? The more real this faith feels, the more insane it will seem to those outside—especially if they are marked for sacrifice! Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has conjured up just such a scenario, one in which two planets are slowly swinging into one another’s orbits: one a would-be Mahdi and serial killer, the other an embittered detective pursuing him from murder to hideous murder, eager to prevent others from bearing the cross of suffering he carries. Between them these adversaries launch a battle between worldviews. One is Nightmare’s disciple, the other the champion of daylight sanity. It quickly becomes evident that the insanity as just as likely to be true as the sanity we take for granted. What is at stake here? A man-monster of murder who must be stopped for the sake of his victims’ safety? Or an awakening into a horrific enlightenment that will scour the world clean of humanity? It is the human worldview, the world of humanity itself that lies in the balance. Will one man’s faith in the Lovecraft Mythos be revealed as a rationale for mind-sick killers? Or will he be revealed as the Christ of Cthulhu, the herald of universal madness? You will feel you have met these engaging and unsettling characters. You will find yourself making cameos here and there on the page. And when you are done, you will find that you, too, have become Nightmare’s Disciple.
The Spawning: Book Two of The Hive Series - Bringing unimaginable ancient horrors to light, this supernatural novel weaves several terrifying discoveries into one disquieting tale. At an isolated research station in Antarctica, a cosmologist experiences a singular, horrifying encounter. In the grip of an unforgiving snowstorm, the members stationed at Mount Hobb confront a terror that will change the world. Amidst threats of national security, conspiracies, and cover-ups, a new group of scientists at Polar Clime Base attempt to unravel an eldritch mystery that has remained locked away for billions of years. Hidden away in the shadows of glacial caves, a malevolent intelligence that not only threatens the lives of those who discover it but also the future of the human race, lies waiting. Despite the dire warnings from the researchers at Polar Clime, the National Science Foundation refuses to intervene, leaving the inhabitants alone in preventing a final war for the very existence of humanity. In this riveting science fiction thriller, the unforgiving landscape of the Antarctic is explored, revealing the darkest place on Earth and the unknown menace that dwells beneath its ice.
Strange Eons, by Robert Bloch - Robert Bloch’s homage to his old mentor and correspondent, H.P. Lovecraft. Taking names and incidents mentioned in Lovecraft’s tales, Bloch (best known for the novel Psycho) weaves a story surrounding three individuals who run afoul of the otherworldly monsters of the so-called Cthulhu Mythos. The title is taken from a famous Lovecraftian couplet: “That is not dead which can eternal lie/ and with strange eons, even death may die.” The story begins when Albert Keith, an eccentric art collector, purchases the literally ghoulish painting described in Lovecraft’s story, “Pickman’s Model.” From that point, he (and others) begin to deduce that Lovecraft’s stories were not fiction, but thinly-disguised prophecies and warnings to the human race. As they investigate, the novel gives us a kind of Cliffs Notes overview of Lovecraft’s major themes. Bloch’s novel is fast-paced, which is unusual for this kind of supernatural fiction. Typically, atmosphere and evocative description dominate, neither of which necessarily lend themselves to quick reading. This marks the book’s biggest departure from Lovecraft’s style and tone, but what he loses in ‘period authenticity’, Bloch makes up for in plot twists, with each new revelation uncovering another Lovecraftian icon–the Shining Trapezohedron, or the people from Innsmouth. Added to that is Bloch’s gift for naturalistic dialogue (a gift Lovecraft himself lacked) and characterization.
That Which Should Not Be, by Brett J. Talley – Probably the BEST Lovecraftian novel I have ever read. Winner of the 2011 JournalStone horror writing contest. Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston’s professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, The Inferno of the Witch, the student doesn’t hesitate to begin the quest. Weston’s journey takes an unexpected turn, however, when he ventures into a tavern in the small town of Anchorhead. Rather than passing the evening as a solitary patron, Weston joins four men who regale him with stories of their personal experiences with forces both preternatural and damned. Two stories hit close to home as they tie the tellers directly to Weston’s current mission. His unanticipated role as passive listener proves fortuitous, and Weston fulfills his goal. Bringing the book back to Miskatonic, though, proves to be a grave mistake. Quickly, Weston realizes he has played a role in potentially opening the gate between the netherworld and the world of Man. Reversing the course of events means forgetting all he thought he knew about Miskatonic and his professor and embracing an unknown beyond his wildest imagination.
Unholy Dimensions, by Jeffrey Thomas – Not only a great writer, but also a great guy. UNHOLY DIMENSIONS collects 27 exursions into realms Lovecraftian and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, through the mind’s eye of Jeffrey Thomas, author of PUNKTOWN and TERROR INCOGNITA.
The Void – Brett J. Talley’s second book. A really great Lovecraftian horror science fiction novel… terrifying. Available in hardcover, paperback, and for Kindle. In the deepest reaches of space, on a ship that no longer exists, six travelers stare into the abyss . . . and the abyss stares back. Man has finally mastered the art of space travel and in a few hours passengers can travel light years across the galaxy. But, there’s a catch—the traveler must be asleep for the journey, and with sleep come the dreams. Only the sleeper can know what his dream entails, for each is tailored to his own mind, built from his fears, his secrets, his past . . . and sometimes his future. That the dreams occasionally drive men mad is but the price of technological advance. But when a transport on a routine mission comes upon an abandoned ship, missing for more than a decade, six travelers—each with something to hide—discover that perhaps the dreams are more than just figments of their imagination. Indeed, they may be a window to a reality beyond their own where shadow has substance and the darkness is a thing unto itself, truly worthy of fear.
Twisted in Dream: The Collected Weird Poetry of Ann K. Schwader – S.T. Joshi writes: Ann K. Schwader’s poetry fuses metrical precision and horrific imagination in a manner not seen since the heyday of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. It suggests far more than it states, and its implications of dread menace are underscored by a cosmic pessimism that raises her work far above the level of mere shudder-coining.
LOVECRAFTIAN GRAPHIC NOVELS (AKA LOVECRAFTIAN COMICS)
Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham is from DC Comics’ Elseworlds series. This 3-part story is set in the 1920s. As the story opens, Bruce Wayne and pals (Dick, Jason, Tim, and Alfred) are in Antarctica searching for survivors from the “Cobblepot Expedition”. They discover a frozen ship, with almost everyone dead. Everyone, that is, except for Professor Cobblepot and another survivor, who have both gone crazy and are muttering things like “I am chosen by Him to be His messenger to the world” and “Hark, the lurker is on the threshold, and behold a shadow out of time.” I won’t spoil the story, but suffice to say that it was written by Mike Mignola, he of Hellboy fame. The Doom That Came to Gotham scores high on mood and gets a lot right, but it’s not perfect. It’s a bit more Derleth than Lovecraft, but still… Batman and the mythos? Sold. All in all, it’s a pretty good graphic novel. Buy Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham: Book one – Book two – Book three
Heathentown – (You can also buy the digital comic for immediate reading at Comixology.) Written by Corinna Sara Bechko, art by Gabriel Hardman. Corinna, you may remember, wrote an excellent story for issue #7 of The Lovecraft eZine, with illustrations by the same Gabriel Hardman. When Anna travels deep within the Florida Everglades to attend her lover’s funeral, she finds herself in an eerie small town where death is but a horrible beginning! In an attempt to discover the truth, she digs up her lover’s coffin, starting a chain reaction which brings an ancient malevolence into the town – bent on her destruction!
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, by Thomas Ligotti - 2010 Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction. The Conspiracy against the Human Race is renowned horror writer Thomas Ligotti’s first work of nonfiction. Through impressively wide-ranging discussions of and reflections on literary and philosophical works of a pessimistic bent, he shows that the greatest horrors are not the products of our imagination. The worst and most plentiful horrors are instead to be found in reality. Mr. Ligotti’s calm, but often bloodcurdling turns of phrase, evoke the dreadfulness of the human condition. Those who cannot bear the truth will pretend this is another work of fiction, but in doing so they perpetuate the conspiracy of the book’s title.
Dim-Remembered Stories: A Critical Study of R. H. Barlow – R.H. Barlow corresponded with HPL, and wrote one of my favorite Lovecraftian stories, The Night Ocean.
Dissecting Cthulhu: Essays on the Cthulhu Mythos - While it is surprising for a gaming company to delve so deeply into the nature of the Mythos, it speaks to how distorted that the Mythos do appear in a standard Call of Cthulhu game and serves as a remedy who try to play CoC like D&D. Despite this strength, the thesis repeats itself throughout the book that it becomes a book of literary criticism of Lovecraft’s work rather than an aid for gaming. As literary criticism, it amply fills the void of serious Lovecraft criticism previously confined to obscure journals and shows Lovecraft to be one of the literary giants of the early twentieth century.
An Epicure in the Terrible: A Centennial Anthology of Essays in Honor of H. P. Lovecraft – Other essays in the book deal with such topics as the theme of isolation in Lovecraft’s fiction (Stefan Dziemianowicz); Lovecraft’s cosmic imagery (Steven J. Mariconda); Lovecraft’s progression from a macabre writer to a cosmic writer (David E. Schultz); and Lovecraft’s “artificial mythology” and its development (Robert M. Price). Essays by Peter Cannon, Robert H. Waugh, R. Boerem, Norman R. Gayford, and Barton L. St. Armand round out the volume.
H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, by Michael Houellebecq - Probably my favorite work about Lovecraft. In this prescient work, Michel Houellebecq focuses his considerable analytical skills on H. P. Lovecraft, the seminal, enigmatic horror writer of the early 20th century. Houellebecq’s insights into the craft of writing illuminate both Lovecraft and Houellebecq’s own work. The two are kindred spirits, sharing a uniquely dark worldview. But even as he outlines Lovecraft’s rejection of this loathsome world, it is Houellebecq’s adulation for the author that drives this work and makes it a love song, infusing the writing with an energy and passion not seen in Houellebecq’s novels to date. This book is indispensable reading for anyone interested in Lovecraft, Houellebecq, or the past and future of horror.
The Lovecraft Lexicon - A Reader’s Guide to Persons, Places and Things in the Tales of H.P. Lovecraft. Though Howard Phillips (H.P.) Lovecraft died in 1937, his remarkable body of work, including The Dunwich Horror and The Call of Cthulhu, continue to intrigue and horrify readers from all over the world. Its elements of horror, fantasy and magic have captured an enormous and varied audience. But Lovecraft’s world of imagination can be highly complex. It is filled with a daunting array of bizarre and obscure characters, monsters, places and things which can be quite a task for anyone to sort out. Anthony Pearsall has done just that. From Abbadon (a demon in the Nameless City) to Zuro (a river in The Quest of Iranon), Pearsall has meticulously covered hundreds of the People, Places and Things in H.P. Lovecraft’s writings. Armed with The Lovecraft Lexicon, you have the definitive guide to the people, places and things which influenced his life and his writings. And if that isn’t enough, a special, extended Appendix details one of Lovecraft’s recurrent themes: Caves, Caverns and Abysses.
A Monster of Voices: Speaking For H. P. Lovecraft - Among the contributions are studies of the influence of World War I on “The Rats in the Walls”; Lovecraft’s relationship to his two late colleagues, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber, as well as to such other writers as D. H. Lawrence, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Eugene O’Neill; the influence of Roman literature and history on Lovecraft; and the sublimated eroticism of “The Thing on the Doorstep” and “Medusa’s Coil.” All in all, this volume, containing several previously unpublished essays, displays the inexhaustible depths of Lovecraft’s writing and Robert H. Waugh’s deftness in probing its intricacies.
A Subtler Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H. P. Lovecraft, by S.T. Joshi - This is a companion piece of sorts to Joshi’s magisterial biography of Lovecraft, delving more into Lovecraft’s literary and philosophical positions, and less into the details of his day-to-day life.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST…
I like anything written by W.H. Pugmire; click here to go to his Amazon author page. From there you can buy his books.