H.P. Lovecraft wrote horror stories like no other author before of after him. In the pages of Weird Tales and other pulp-fiction magazines of the 1920s and ’30s, Lovecraft pioneered a new type of story that fused the thrills of supernatural horror with the visionary concepts of science fiction. His unique style of cosmic horror revolutionized the modern horror tale through its depiction of a vast universe indifferent to human existence and populated by incomprehensibly alien monsters.
This volume collects twenty of Lovecraft’s best-known horror stories, including several that laid the foundation for the Cthulhu Mythos, a pattern of myth and lore that represents the high point of his writing and once of the most original contributions to fantastic fiction of the past century.
H.P. Lovecraft: Great Tales of Horror is your passport to unique worlds of wonder and terror as only one of the greatest horror writers of all time could imagine them.
I’ve been taking part in the 2016 Classics Challenge, hosted by the lovely Stacey of The Pretty Books. Earlier this year I read Dracula, The Devil’s Elixirs and Uncle Silas. For April and May I read (part of) the Lovecraft anthology Great Tales of Horror.
I’m using the Classics Challenge to explore Gothic classics — read more about that here.
WHEN I discovered this classic
I spotted this particular anthology in Waterstones months ago, and the Classics Challenge was a good excuse to go back and buy it!
WHY I chose to read it
Though Lovecraft’s stories are more sci-fi horror than Gothic, I bent my ‘Gothic classics’ rule to include him as it felt remiss that I’d never read him.
WHAT makes it a classic?
Lovecraft is sometimes considered the master of horror of the twentieth century. Earlier supernatural classics often focused on ghosts and demons, but Lovecraft is the master of scary sci-fi: tentacled, jelly-like monsters from alien dimensions. He’s especially famous for the Cthulhu Mythos.
WHAT I thought of this classic
I really wasn’t sure at first, which is why I’ve spent two months on Great Tales of Horror and still haven’t finished it! Partly, it’s that this anthology is huge — not only are there lots of pages, but they are massive pages, and the font’s quite small. Lovecraft’s style has also taken me some getting used to — his tales are often quite long, densely worded and slow-paced, and don’t have me flipping pages like Edgar Allan Poe’s stories do.
However, I have gradually been coming to appreciate Lovecraft. His monsters are like nothing I’ve read before in classic fiction, with alien qualities taken to such an extreme that they can’t be compared to anything on earth. I might sometimes find it a slog getting through certain stories, but Lovecraft’s atmosphere of creeping horror usually wins me over in the end.
I might be making slow progress on this anthology, but I plan to keep reading. I will finish it one day!
WILL it stay a classic?
WHO I’d recommend it to
Black-and-white sci-fi B-movie fans, or readers who’re interested in the origins of sci-fi and horror.
I’m moving on to a new book for next month’s Classics Challenge, otherwise I’d get stuck on this anthology for the rest of 2016! For June, I’ll be re-reading Frankenstein.
Have you read any Lovecraft? What did you think?