Lovecraft-influenced novels I recommend

I’m working on a page that will list my favorite Lovecraftian books.  It will be divided into 4 sections: Novels, anthologies, non-fiction, and poetry.  Here’s part of the novel section, in case you’re looking for something to read.  If you have novel suggestions, comment below.

The Amulet, by William MeikleDerek 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 Color Out of Time, by Michael Shea – Here’s a review from none other than our friend W.H. Pugmire: Michael evokes a wonderful sense of macabre place, as must be done with such a book concerning a haunted and tainted region… THE COLOR OUT OF TIME captures that sense of evil superbly, It is a thing of cosmic disease that infiltrates and region and affects its horror. The creature is indeed an enemy to humanity, as Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu are enemies who thirst for human destruction and extinction. Shea’s novel expertly catches this sense of cosmic threat. The introduction of the star-stones is always a bit problematic for me, they were so poorly used by Derleth and Lumley; but it must be remembered that it was Lovecraft himself who introduced this device, in AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. Those looking for a well-written novel of the Cthulhu Mythos, that has its roots in the wondrous fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, this is a book you may certainly enjoy.

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.

John Dies at the End, by David WongSTOP. 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.

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.

Resume With Monsters, by William Browning Spencer A dark-humored employee-angst novel, seasoned liberally with the Cthulhu Mythos. Spencer has a wonderful antic wit… His hapless hero bounces from one dead-end job (Ralph’s One-Day Resumes) to another (corporate giants with names like MicroMeg and Pelidyne), but he can’t seem to get away from those monsters. Great scenes in which Xerox machines and fax machines and the industrial sprinklers they install overhead in offices interact with Lovecraft’s Elder Gods. Lightweight, as horror novels go, but unusually good fun. Winner of the 1995 International Horror Critics Guild Award for Best Novel.

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.

The Things That Are Not There, by Robert Morgan – Tough-as-nails detective Teddy London is skeptical of beautiful Lisa Hutchinson’s claim that she is being stalked by winged monsters until one crashes through his thirteenth floor window. Original.

And, of course, anything by W.H. Pugmire.

 

35 responses to “Lovecraft-influenced novels I recommend

  1. OK, now we enter an area of real controversy. And I’m not even including books that are strictly electronic. I have to disagree with some of your choices.

    Here is my list of recommended Lovecraftian/Cthulhu mythos novels:

    Radiant Dawn – Goodfellow *** superb
    Ravenous Dusk – Goodfellow
    The Atrocity Archives – Stross
    The Jennifer Morgue – Stross
    The Fuller Memorandum – Stross *** superb
    Delta Green: The Rules of Engagement – Tynes
    Balak – Rainey
    The Gardens of Lucullus – Tierney
    The Drums of Chaos – Tierney
    The Darkest Part of the Woods – Campbell
    The Midnight Eye Files: The Amulet – Meikle
    Where Goeth Nyarlathotep – Reiner
    Haunting of Alaizabel Cray – Wooding (Lovecraftian, not Cthulhu mythos really)
    A Night in the Lonesome October – Zelazny
    Gemini Rising – McNaughton
    Downward to Darkness – McNaughton
    Worse Things Waiting – McNaughton (The House Across the Way is not Lovecraftian or mythos, imo)
    Queen of K’n-Yan – Ken
    Threshold – Kiernan (very Lovecraftian but not mythos)
    Low Red Moon – Kiernan
    Daughter of Hounds – Kiernan
    The Red Tree – Kiernan
    Mall of Cthulhu – Cooper
    The Cthulhu Cult: A Novel of Lovecraftian Obsession – Dakan
    Trolley 1852 – Lee (the best of Lee’s ‘Lovecraftian’ exploitations)

    These are ones that I am iffy about:

    Windwalker’s Mate – Carter
    Tide of Desire – Clayton (McNaughton) – worth a look, impossible to
    find and a bad ending
    The Things That Are Not There – CJ Henderson
    The Stench of Fresh Air – CJ Henderson
    The Innsiwch Horror – Lee
    Ghouls of the MIskatonic – McNeill

    And here are ones I had problems with:

    The Hound Hunters – Niswander
    Other Nations – Marsh
    HP Lovecraft Institute – Bischoff – complete dog
    Nightmare’s Disciple – Pulver (I need to try this again, as my appreciation for Pulver ahs grown)
    A Darkness Inbred – Heck – complete dog
    Dagon – Chappell – honestly I cannot see how anyone could like this
    Island Life – Meikle
    The Riddle of Cthulhu – Emerson – complete dog
    ultimate WMD – Emerson – complete dog
    The Dark Destroyer – Glasby
    Servants of Chaos -D’Ammassa
    The Great White Space – Copper
    The Sand Dwellers – Niswander
    The Iron Maiden – Lancett
    The Colour Out of Time – Shea
    The Colour Out of Darkness – Pelan
    Ghoul – Slade – not fair as it is not really mythos, just uses HPL
    references
    Deeper – Moore
    The House of the Toad – Tierney
    The Returner: The Book of Planes – Landri
    The Eden Retrieval – Howarth
    The Fertile Crescent -McLairn -hands down the worst book on this list
    An Evil Guest – Wolfe – what a disappointment!
    Resume With Monsters – Spencer – not really mythos although a very well written book; happy to debate this!
    Monstrocity – Thomas
    Deadstock -Thomas
    Hive – Curran
    The Spawning – Curran
    Cthulhu’s Chosen – Loiler (wretched)
    The Secret of Merrow’s Bay – Perry
    Pages Torn from a Travel Journal – Lee (abysmal)
    The Dunwich Romance – Lee
    The Haunter of the Threshold – Lee (starts with rape porn and goes downhill)
    The Other Lovecraft – Paquet
    The3 Returner: the Book of Planes – Landri

    Here are ones still on my To Be Read stack:

    Blue Devil Island – Rainey
    Mr. X – Straub
    Perfect Union – Goodfellow – not released yet
    The Ceremonies – TED Klein
    Strange Eons – Bloch
    The 37th Mandala – Laidlaw
    The Orphan Palace – Pulver
    Move Under Ground – Mamatas
    Alhazred: Author of the Necronomicon – Tyson
    The Necronomicon – Tyson
    Hissmelina – Smith (I’m half way through and not loving it)
    Delta Green: Through a Glass Darkly
    Arkham Horror: Dance of the Damned (almost done, it’s pretty good)
    The Creeping Kelp – Meikle
    Colder (The Tamelin Light) – Bryant
    The Damned Highway – Keene and Mamatas
    The Cthulhu Encryption: A Romance of Piracy – Stableford
    Chasing the Moon – Martinez
    No Hero – Wood
    Southern Gods – Jacobs

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    • Well, instead of building a comprehensive list, I’m doing a list of the ones I personally like. Of course, I forgot about “Night in the Lonesome October” which is awesome, so I’ll need to add that. A lot of it is personal preference, of course, but at least people will know what I *personally* like. And I appreciate the list and suggestions from you and everyone else. I knew that I had to be forgetting some.

      And now if I could think of another sentence that uses the word “personally” — oh, there we go.

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      • Well… I’m always on the lookout for suspects!

        BTW, That Which Should Not Be also sits in my to be read stack.

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      • Oh, and don’t forget to pre-order The Apocalypse Codex by Charlie Stross, the 4th Laundry novel due ot this June.

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    • Nuts, I keep forgetting some books. Fantasy Flight Games is publishing novels based on the Arkham Horror rpg. So far we have the first entries from two planned trilogies.

      Ghouls of the Miskatonic by Graham McNeil is decent enough, although you always know you are reading the novelization of a gaming scenario. The final action sequence is pretty over the top. It is the first book in the Dark Waters trilogy.

      Dance of the Damned by Alan Bligh is a much better read; Bligh is probably just a better writer. It is the first book in the Lord of Nightmares trilogy.

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    • Well…I just finished Hissmelina. I didn’t think it was either Lovecraftian or very good. Off the list it goes.

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  2. Blue Devil Island by Mark Rainey — one of the best Lovecraft-influenced novels I’ve ever read. Works equally well as a wartime adventure and as SF/horror. Highly recommended!

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  3. All fantastic reads by the sound of it, some I’ve heard of some I shall seek out. However could I add the Johannes Cabal series by Jonathan L Howard a fantastic series of darkly (very darkly) comic novels. Number three, Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute, is set in The Dreamlands. I’m only a third of the way through but there’s enough Lovecraftian references to raise a wry, knowing smile on every page.

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  4. Robert Morgan is actually a pen name for C.J. Henderson. I think he has done as many as five Lovecraftian novels in that series, as well as a series of stories about Inspector Legrasse (sp?) frp, the Call of Cthulhlu.

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  5. I only have time for a few off the top of my head so I’ll only mention novels though I do like Carpenter’s list. I’d add John Langan (specifically House of Windows), and I’d second Matt’s list with anything by Goodfellow (Radiant Dawn is phenomenal), Mark Rainey (incredible talent), Meikle (just a joy to read), Pulver (of course!). Also, Laird Barron, Mark Samuels, Simon Strantzas, and W.H. Pugmire. I know I said novels only but these authors deserve to be mentioned again and again.

    As for novels, I’d suggest anything and everything ever written (or that will ever be written) by Ramsey Campbell. Midnight Sun is a great example of his ability to invoke terror and awe and beauty often simultaneously- it brings to mind Lovecraft, Machen and Blackwood but is uniquely Campbell. Incarnate might be applicable as well as it is one of the best depictions of the tenuous barrier ‘tween reality and dream.

    T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies is one of my favorite Lovecraftian novels. Klein is one of my literary heroes whose small body of work rests comfortably on my bookshelf with the Lovecrafts, Machens, Blackwoods, Aickmans, etc.

    Rikki Ducornet’s The Fountains of Neptune is a lush haunting fever dream of prose all saturated in watery images and ocean folklore drowning in dreams and memory.
    Michael Cisco. Nuff said. One of many authors who are so talented it makes me want to give up.
    That’s just a handful of authors whose works excite the Lovecraftian squiggles and bits of my brain.

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  6. You can’t say “Lovecraftian Novel” without mentioning Caitlin R. Kiernan – “Threshold” and “Daughter of Hounds” are particular favorites, but all of her work is sure to please fans of HPL.

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  7. Firstly, thanks to all above for the kind mentions.

    As for my own favorites…

    Midnight Sun – Ramsey Campbell
    The Ceremonies – T.E.D. Klein
    The Fuller Memorandum – Charles Stross
    Darkfall – Stephen Laws
    A Night in Lonesome October – Roger Zelazny

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  8. Yay for ‘Deeper’. I found it randomly in a bookstore, and tore through it in a day or so. I’ve gotten other books by the author, I really should read them again. Also much yay for ‘Nightmare Disciple’ I blame that book for getting me into collecting assorted other Lovecraftian authors, and for my on again off again dreams of running a bookstore.

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  9. My tastes in Lovecraftian run wide, and tend to include things missed by others . . .so lest we forget
    Marion Zimmer Bradley: Witch Hill, and her -Light sequels
    Masterton: The Manitou and it’s sequels, Wells of Hell and Prey
    James Moore’s Possessions and Rabid Growth
    Ed Lee’s Creekers
    Monteleone’s Night-Train
    John Shirley In Darkness Waiting
    D’Ammassa Servants of Chaos
    Frank Austen Howard Gaia’s Lament (self published but not bad)
    Sigler’s Infected and Contagious
    The Destroyer #139 Dream Thing
    Mignola’s Jenny Finn: Doom Messiah

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  10. Ooo, what a great post and great discussion! I have to mention Caitlin R. Kiernan’s books too. Love her work! I’ll have to check out lots of these that I’ve missed though. Especially since I followed Mike’s advice about watching “The Mound” and found his advice to be spot on. Thanks for this post, Mike!

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  11. As a self-confessed otaku, I’d like to put in my 2 yen about some great Lovecraft-influenced manga:

    THE BUG BOY by Hideshi Hino — noted for his unique “kawaii-kowai” style of art — has a theme reminiscent of “The Outsider”. It begins with the words “This is the sad and horrifying tale of a boy with a terrible affliction” (subtly echoing “Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness”), and goes on to tell the story of a lonely young boy’s metamorphosis into a monstrous scolopendra-like creature. Though filled with violent and sometimes nauseating images, the manga elicits real pathos and almost involuntary empathy with the terrifying, doomed protagonist.

    I’d also recommend just about anything by Junji Ito. Ito — whose art is brilliantly detailed, realistic, and as twisted as his stories — explicitly acknowledges HPL as a major influence on his work. The most obviously Lovecraftian is the two-volume GYO (featuring biomechanoid terrors from the sea), but HPL’s influence is also quite visible in the three-volume UZUMAKI (meaning “vortex”, about a town infiltrated and gradually destroyed by the “unearthly geometry” of that shape), in his short tale THE ENIGMA OF AMIGARA FAULT (more “unearthly geometry”, as well as underground horror), and in the “Tomie” stories anthologized in the first two volumes of MUSEUM OF TERROR (Tomie being a beautiful young woman who reproduces in a most horrendous and lethal way — occasionally morphing into something that looks more like one of the Whateley brothers than a Japanese schoolgirl).

    HPL, like Edgar Allan Poe, was admired greatly in Japan, so there’s more Lovecraftian manga out there — but the ones I mentioned above are definitely among the most notable.

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    • This was a great post! I am always looking out for Cthulhu manga. There are not many of direct interest to mythos fans in English. Here is my list:

      Arkham Woods – Christopher Rowley
      Taimashi Vol 1 – Hideyuki Kikuchi
      The Dark Goodbye Vol 1 and 2 – Drew Rausch and Frank Marraffino
      No Man’s Land Vol 1 and 2 – Jason DeAngelis

      I plan to order the ones you list although Gyo, Vol 1 is only available for $28 from used book store.

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      • Hi Matt — thanks for your recommendations! I will check them out. Yes, GYO Volume 2 can be found for reasonable prices, while GYO Volume 1 is inexplicably being sold at ridiculously exorbitant rates by just about every seller I can find. $28 is still rather high, but it seems to be the lowest price you can find, so I’m glad you managed to get a copy. In the meantime, you — and anyone else interested — can read Ito’s chilling short story ENIGMA OF AMIGARA FAULT online for free, in English translation (I’ve “tinyfied” the very long URL):

        http://tinyurl.com/Amigara-English

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    • I just finished The Bug Boy by Hideshi Hino. Frankly I found nothing Lovecraftian about it. It seemed more like a manga version of Kafka’a The Metamorphosis than anything else. Not my cup of tea.

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  12. Thank you for mentioning Junji Ito as well as Hino! Hino tends to lean towards the Grand Guignol style of horror while Ito emphasizes weird horror. Uzumaki is a masterpiece. Both are great writers/artists that any Lovecraft fan would find appealing.

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  13. The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue , The Fuller Memorandum – anything Charles Stross does with his “Laundry” series is worth your time. LeCarre meets Lovecraft, with some dark Brit humor.

    I’m also about 2/3 of the way through Southern Gods right now & really enjoying it. It’s a strange but readable combination of Southern Gothic & Mythos, with a little post-WW II film noir thrown in.

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  14. Lovecraft influenced?

    That would be everything that includes the supernatural that was published after his death. The man had a greater impact than any other writer on horror/fantasy.

    Wayne

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  15. Wow, did this post ever generate discussion. And here I thought I was just putting out a preview of the upcoming “Mike’s recommended books” page. 🙂

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  16. I don’t know Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, but Richard Laymon’s similarly-titled Night in the Lonesome October is excellent and has a Lovecraftian feel. Only with a lot more sex.

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