Sunday, 8 October 2017

Book Review: H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Fiction

326 days later... I have finished reading this collection of HP Lovecraft's complete fiction. The master of weird fiction and cosmic horror delivers a range of different short stories and novellas, from chilling tales to the downright terrifying. 

"That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die."

This complete fiction is chronological, so it's interesting to see Lovecraft progress over the years. Admittedly, it was tough to get through some of the stories at the beginning, but once you get accustomed to the way Lovecraft writes, it becomes a lot easier. Not only that, but Lovecraft himself gets better at writing and the quality of his stories vastly improve. Therefore, quite predictably, my favourite stories are actually towards the end of the collection, when Lovecraft has really mastered his craft.

Lovecraft is not the master of creating memorable characters, but he is the master of building an atmosphere and writing unforgettable tales of dread and horror. As a King fan, strong character development is something I look for in a lot of my books (this just brings me back to a review I read recently for Sleeping Beauties where the reviewer commented on how King has never been great at character development.... hahahahahaha, okay, sure), but Lovecraft has taught me that that's not always needed in order to truly create an incredible story. Ask me the names of the characters in stories such as The Shadow over Innsmouth and I would look at you with a blank stare, but ask me to tell you that story and the dread and fear it instilled in me, and you couldn't shut me up (I actually did tell Matthew that story one morning over breakfast and I'm pretty sure I made a mess of it - Lovecraft I ain't).

Don't get me wrong, there are negative aspects to Lovecraft's writing - it's pretty dense, which I'm sure some readers would love, but that kind of writing requires me to be sitting in a silent room where I can concentrate. Given that I do a decent amount of reading with background noise (as I like to be in the heat of my living room), I struggled at times and would find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again. That also might help explain why it took 326 days! He's a huge fan of going into unnecessary detail, which can be frustrating at times.

I can completely understand that Lovecraft is not for everyone - his stories don't read as easily as King's, there isn't a lot of dialogue, but there is no harm in trying a story or two before deciding if you want to explore further. So! I thought I would recommend some stories to begin with if you want to venture into some cosmic horror...

1. The Shadow over Innsmouth - creepy, creepy, creepy. The tension and dread is built and sustained for the majority of this one, and it also has one of my favourite endings.

2. The Thing on the Doorstep - also, a greatly crafted tale, with another epic ending - Lovecraft knows how to bring them endings!!

3. The Colour out of Space - this one blew me away, and possibly might be my favourite tale. Highly recommend.

4. At the Mountains of Madness - chilling and tense... loved this one!

5. The Call of Cthulhu - come on! You're gonna read Lovecraft and not read about the Great Old One?! That would be unheard of!!

Lovecraft has firmly cemented his position as one of my favourite authors, and I will revisit these stories in years to come. It's been a pleasure. 5 stars out of 5 from me! And just remember.... "ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" which translates into "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."


1 comment :

  1. Completely agree! Lovecraft can because difficult read (or just different) but still gives me the creeps!!! Ive only read two of his stories but planning to enjoy many more! Love your reviews!


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