(photo courtesy of Sigrid Rodli Illustration. On a side note, you should go check out their illustrations. They’re really cool and creepy.)
I’ve had a couple forays into the horror genre. I read some Edgar Allen Poe in school, like everyone else, and I’ve read some more modern horror stories that include vampires and werewolves and the like. But this is the first time I’ve ever read a story by H.P. Lovecraft, who is arguably one of the masters of the horror genre.
I was introduced to H.P. Lovecraft by my husband and brother-in-law, both of whom are huge fans of Lovecraft. They’ve read the stories, and they play all of the board games and card games based off of the Lovecraft Mythos. I’ve played the games with them as well, and they’ve been encouraging me to read the stories. I was definitely intrigued by the universe that Lovecraft created, so I decided to finally give it a try.
The collection that I bought is called The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories. I picked it mostly because it has an awesome cover (pictured below), but my brother-in-law assured me that it has a good selection of Lovecraft’s stories as well. It also has an introduction detailing Lovecraft’s life and writing, which is pretty interesting.
(photo courtesy of Goodreads)
The funny thing is, though, this collection doesn’t include The Dunwich Horror. I also checked out an audiobook collection of Lovecraft stories, and listened to this story instead. It was an interesting first story to choose, because it is a later story for him, and takes place within the more developed universe that he created during his writing career. So a lot of the details were somewhat recognizable from my experience with the board games based on his Mythos. Which probably wouldn’t have been the case had I started right from the beginning of his body of work. I think I’m going to go more that route in the future. At the very least, I’m going to read the stories in the collection I bought in order (I checked, and they are in the order in which he wrote them).
Now to talk a little about this story specifically. The Dunwich Horror focuses on the fictional town of Dunwich in Massachusetts and one family who lives there, called the Whateleys. There are rumors that the father practices “witchcraft,” and the daughter has a child out of wedlock, who turns out to be very strange. This child not only looks odd, but he grows and learns very quickly, and his grandfather is teaching him “witchcraft” as well. And they are doing strange things in their house and up on the hills near the town, which lead to some interesting happenings and a monster that terrorizes Dunwich.
I like the perspective the story takes, following the Whateleys and their strange doings as well as the other families in the town, and later a librarian who ends up investigating and trying to stop the monster. It makes for an interesting view that is both distant at times, and close at others. I really felt like I was a part of the action of the story, which made the whole thing feel a little bit more creepy and disturbing.
I definitely recommend this story and Lovecraft’s work in general for anyone who likes to read horror. I’m going to be reading more of his stories, and I’ll continue to talk about them as I do.
If you like Lovecraft, do you have a particular favorite story to recommend? Leave it in the comments!