Review: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird StoriesThe Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft
Published by Penguin Classics on September 27, 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Short Stories
Pages: 420
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Frequently imitated and widely influential, Howard Philips Lovecraft reinvented the horror genre in the 1920s, discarding ghosts and witches and instead envisioning mankind as a tiny outpost of dwindling sanity in a chaotic and malevolent universe. S. T. Joshi, Lovecraft's preeminent interpreter, presents a selection of the master's fiction, from the early tales of nightmares and madness such as "The Outsider" to the overpowering cosmic terror of "The Call of Cthulhu." More than just a collection of terrifying tales, this volume reveals the development of Lovecraft's mesmerizing narrative style and establishes him as a canonical- and visionary-American writer.

The short stories of Lovecraft, at least the ones in this anthology, all seem to take place in the same universe. The stories have a lot in common with another. For one thing, they all focus on some sort of mythical monster/god/evil creation of a mad scientist / reader of the Necronomicon. Also, if one were narrating them, it would be really difficult to resist the urge to end the telling of each with DUN-DUN-DUN.

At first, I really was not feeling this at all. Lovecraft’s writing is very flowery and ornate, which I felt did not lend itself particularly well to tales of horror. All of the extra information and verbiage lessened any sense of urgency that the stories were trying to convey. As I became more familiar with his narrative style and realized the connections underlying each story, I found myself coming to enjoy the stories.

These tales are often hugely unsurprising in their final twists. The plot lines herein will be familiar to most people who have ever watched a horror film or read a horror story. At first, this irritated me, but this too turned to some amount of fascination when I considered that they were probably fairly original plot lines then. He may have originated some of these ideas, which is pretty cool.

While this will not be for everyone, I definitely think that anyone who really liked Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will adore this, as it was clearly a huge influence upon him. Plus, the cover on this edition is completely gorgeous, even if I doubt Cthulhu would actually look like that.

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