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VINE VOICEon 23 February 2011
I am trying these days to read more of the authors that have influenced so many others and Lovecraft is one of them. The high priest of `weird', his short stories are dark Gothic fantasies, horror with some fairy tale elements or science fiction thrown in. These are the first I've read, and if the three in this little volume are anything to go by, I'll enjoy reading more and think I'll need to acquire the full anthologies available.

The Colour Out of Space written in 1927 - is a classic Sci-Fi horror tale of a meteorite that falls in a farming valley and gradually poisons everything around it. The dread engendered by this tale's narrator is palpable and terrible - pure evil poisoning and sucking the life out of all living things within its grasp.

The Outsider is more of a fantasy, and strangely brought to mind a miniature reversal of Mark Z Danielewski's magnificent modern horror novel House Of Leaves, in which a door in a house is found with a never-ending world going down, down, down. In this short story a twisted creature discovers a door leading up, up from his dark subterranean castle.

Lastly, in The Hound, a grave-robber takes one amulet too many and is driven mad by a curse. Less `weird' than the preceding two tales, but still highly atmospheric and charged with dark energy.

I loved the `weirdness' of these tales - that word is perfect for them. They were fantastical, bleakly pessimistic, dark in tone as well as lacking sunshine, and rich in descriptive language. Lovecraft is a hit.
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on 25 July 2014
Lovecraft takes some getting used to, but once you're familiar with the universes he creates, you get hooked pretty quickly - well, that's my view, anyway. The writing is a little archaic at times, which comes as no surprise given that the stories were written in the earlier years of the last century, but I enjoyed the three stories in this book tremendously. No wonder he's considered one of the masters of his genre.
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on 18 May 2014
It’s been a while since I read any Lovecraft so I’d forgotten just how… crap he is!

Lovecraft’s problem is his poor writing ability. He can come up with some great stories and ideas, he clearly had a ton of nightmarishly unique imagery, but he really struggles to convey them to the reader.

Like The Colour Out of Space, which tells of a meteorite hitting a farm and the mysterious colourfully glowing rock slowly poisoning the farmer and his family. It’s a great setup but Lovecraft ineptly tries to make the cause of the illnesses a mystery when you know it’s the alien meteorite. Things start falling apart and continue in that vein for the rest of the story with little variation. There’s no suspense but he drags out the story to a unnecessary length anyway and it’s beyond tedious to read.

The Outsider takes a similar approach where a monster rises up from his dungeon castle to visit the outside world and is surprised to see he looks different to the humans who run from him screaming. That scene when he looks in the mirror at the end and realises he’s a monster is the “twist ending” even though the reader’s figured it out long beforehand.

The Hound is a dull story of a demon dog’s revenge on a pair of grave-robbers who stole a magical amulet. A great idea but so poorly handled that it fails to live up to it’s potential.

Lovecraft’s style is to write lavish monologues rather than a narrative so it feels like you’re reading a sequence of descriptions of elaborate and complex images rather than an actual story with a plot, characters, etc. And if you write horror, it’s best to try and have some immediacy with the threat - having characters meet another character who relates a story from 50 years ago, and whose “terrors” were also static and distant, completely nullifies any scares.

And while he doesn’t describe the monsters, leaving that up to the reader, which can be effective if written with skill, it’s not really potent in the way he uses it here. Simply writing “oh the horror was unimaginable!” isn’t scary, it’s stupid.

At least Lovecraft knew his weaknesses and stayed away from writing dialogue for the most part - which doesn’t make it easier to read - but he does attempt dialogue in The Colour Out of Space and it’s laughable. It’s a page-length monologue where a character stutters out a few words followed by ellipses, over and over again: “the terror… it’s so terrible… durnit, the terror… unimaginable!!...” etc. - nobody talks like this!!

(Horror trivia: in On Writing, Stephen King says his inspiration for The Tommyknockers was The Colour Out of Space. Also in On Writing, I think the dialogue he uses to illustrate how not to write speech was taken from this story too.)

Lovecraft’s stories may be horribly written and be a chore to read but he is remembered for a reason as his stories contain some great imagery and he did influence a number of succeeding great horror writers. If you want a taste of what Lovecraft’s like to see if you’ll like or dislike his work, this three story collection provides a good idea of what to expect from him.
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on 6 April 2016
One of my favourite short stories!!
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on 9 October 2014
One of my favourite HP Lovecraft tales is brought to wonderful life in this interesting production. The reader has a great voice and delivers this darkly menacing tale with gusto. Highly recommended
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