Having spent some time last week looking a the best horror novels of Stephen King i felt it was only right this week to stick to the theme of scary books- and where better to go than the essential tales of H.P Lovecraft. Lovecraft was a true pioneer in the field of horror writing who began his writing in 1916 and since then produced some of the greatest tales of that generation and ever in the field of horror. This is made even more impressive when you consider most of Lovecraft’s tales are short stories, or collections of stories which fit together to make a larger tale but never the less they are all filled with enough scary moments and detail to leave everyone feeling uneasy.
Despite Lovecraft being almost obscure during his time alive, posthumously he has become one of the greats in his genre and has spawned the imaginations of men like Gaiman, Stephen King and Sam Raimi to create the brilliant work that there known for today. And there is a very good reason for this- he has delivered tale after tale that are filled with some of the scariest ideas and reoccurring ideologies that are known to man along with a cult classic monster in the ‘Cthulu’ and a cult classic object in the form of the ‘Necronomicon.’
Lovecraft hs written a huge amount of stories and sifted through them all would take a huge amount of time and dedication, but that’s were the collected Necronomicon comes in as it collates the best of his tales from 1920-1930 where he was really at the peak of his horror writing genius and produced his best and most lengthy work- including the entire Cthulhu writings in the way they were originally published.
Lovecraft’s writing is enough to create a real sense of anticipation and dread in any reader, they way he begins his tales by setting the scene and developing the characters is amazing (especially given the short story format) and the world he builds really allows you to envision the landscape, the houses and the eerie setting that will play host to the upcoming horror. No other writer has managed to do this in such a way, Stephen King is great at this but in not in so few words, and this is one of the real successes of Lovecraft. Add into this the lack of description that he sometimes applies to his mythological/demonic entities and you have a real great style to scare the reader- and i assure you he manages this on a more regular occasion than you would believe.
The fact that Lovecraft sets all of his tales in a fiction world- and each of these places re-occurs and fits into the other is another great instrument that he uses to really tell great tales of terror. As you will often find previous mentions of horror you have already read, or have hints at the stories you know- and you then begin to feel that impending doom again for the characters involved as you know the beasts and what they’re capable of delivering. Add to this the recurring themes throughout his tales of forbidden knowledge, fate, non-human influences, inherited guilt, religion and Scientific advancement along with the twisted nature that each of these can apply to a man and the world makes each tale really stand out as an advancement on th thinking of the time.
This truly is the best collection of horror stories that ive read from a single author and truly deserves to be read- if you havent already done so I Reccomend you do. And if you only read a single story, make it ‘At the mountains of madness.’