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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories
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on 23 July 2017
I bought this collection of Lovecraft's work knowing that it contained only a fraction of his very best - most of which I already have.
There are roughly three categories of tales here - high fantasy influenced by Lord Dunsany, cosmic horror - the so called Cthulhu Mythology and a more general type of supernatural horror including the first Lovecraft story I ever read 'The Moon Bog'.
Generally I think the 'high fantasy' stories are amongst Lovecraft's weakest. However having said that they do include the charming 'The Cats Of Ulthar' one of my favourite tales in all of Lovecraft. 'The Dream- Quest of Unknown Kadath' also fits into this category but I think it is a lesser work than either 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward' or 'At the Mountains of Madness' Lovecraft's other short novels. 'The Shadow Out of Time' is regarded as one of Lovecraft's greatest cosmic tales, acclaimed by the likes of S.T. Joshi and Lin Carter. It is certainly a worthy effort but I miss the more visceral impact of the likes of 'The Call of Cthulhu' and 'The Colour out of Space'. In the final category we have the aforementioned 'Moon-Bog' - a good story similar in some ways to the even better 'The Rats in the Walls', as well as rather crudely shocking horror such as 'In The Vault' and 'The Lurking Fear'.
All in all not a bad anthology and a must for the dedicated fan but the casual reader should probably begin their Lovecraft journey elsewhere.
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on 26 July 2015
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on 2 May 2011
I feel I must agree with the other reviewers who say that this volume is somewhat weaker then the other two.
I, however say that some of the short stories really let this volume down. They simply do not have neither that weird feel nor the skin-crawling provoking elements. Though in many places, this volume borders on extremes.

Very weak stories such as "The horror at Red-Hook", "The lurking fear" or "The shunned house" are ballanced by great ones such as "Polaris", "The nameless city" or "Hypnos".

In regards to "The dream quest...", I have a positive view towards it, even though I agree it could have been a little shorter. But overall I tend to see in it a fantastical and mythical inner journey of a lucid dreamer who confrunts alien landscapes and "other planes" of reality and entities.

What really boosts this volume up, however, are the final four stories- "The Silver key" and "Beyond the gates of the Silver Key" (both which are real jewels), and especially "The dreams in the withch house" and "The shadow out of time". These last stories have it all- alien entities, mythical entities such as Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth or Nyarlathotep, occult and magical experiences, entering through portals towards other dimensions, time travel and every other typical Lovecraftian experience.
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This third and last collection in the Penguin Classics H. P. Lovecraft annotated series combines much of Lovecraft's "lesser" fiction and some of his finest classics. This is the very first collection of Lovecraft's work that contains the corrected text of "The Shadow out of Time" since the discovery of Lovecraft's manuscript in January of 1995. (The remarkable story of that discovery is recounted in the fabulous edition of THE SHADOW OUT OF TIME published by Hippocampus Press, still available.) The story has been hailed as Lovecraft's supreme masterpiece, and it is an excellent example of Lovecraft's blending weird (but not supernatural) fiction with the then-new genre of science fiction.

Many of these early tales shew the influence of Dunsany, and some of them have been called Lovecraft's "Dreamland" tales. The matter of which of HPL's tales are actually set in the Dreamlands has been exhaustively examined by editor Joshi in his essay, "The Dream World and the Real World in Lovecraft" (which may be found in his collection of essays from Hippocampus Press, PRIMAL SOURCES--ESSAYS ON H. P. LOVECRAFT). Other tales, such as "The Terrible Old Man," and "The Strange High House in the Mist," are set in the mythical towns of Lovecraft's invention (such as Dunwich, Arkham and Kingsport), and they reveal Lovecraft's growing fascination with the legends of New England.

One of my favourite of Lovecraft's tales is "The Nameless City," which was never sold professionally during his lifetime. It is one of the very early tales that mentioned Abdul Alhazred (but does not yet link him to ye dreaded Necronomicon). In this book we also find "The Lurking Fear," which Lovecraft wrote as a serial to be published in sections in a semi-professional magazine. What fascinates me about Lovecraft is that even his so-called "minor" stories are so interesting and effective, and this may be said for that wee tale of mysterious legend and terror, "The Unnamable."

Here we have some few of the tales involving Randolph Carter. Many people have found "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" rather dull. I have just re-read the novelette as part of my research for my new book, a collection of weird tales involving Nyarlathotep, and with each new acquaintance with "Dream-Quest" I find it more and more enchanting and fascinating and rewarding. Some, such as Lin Carter, have claimed that "Dream-Quest" is in no way a story of the Cthulhu Mythos -- and that is nonsense. It combines aspects of Lovecraft's Dunsanian stories with his growing body of Cthulhu Mythos lore. We must remember that "Dream-Quest" was never polished for professional publication but is a rough draft of a story that he discarded after writing it. Still, it is delightful and has much to commend it, superb language and playful imagination. It is, in short, brilliant.

S. T. Joshi has included an interesting Introduction and full annotations. This is probably not the best book to begin with if you are new to reading H. P. Lovecraft, but it contains many gems, and the tales keep their interest over time, and may be returned to again and again.

Introduction by S. T. Joshi
The Doom that Came to Sarnath
The Terrible Old Man
The Tree
The Cats of Ulthar
From Beyond
The Nameless City
The Moon-Bog
The Other Gods
The Lurking Fear
The Unnamable
The Shunned House
The Horror at Red Hook
In the Vault
The Strange High House in the Mist
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
The Silver Key
Through the Gates of the Silver Key
The Dreams inthe Witch House
The Shadow out of Time
[Notes and Annotations]
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on 30 August 2007
Much like The Call of Cthulhu, The Dreams in the Witch House sees another great collection of stories ranging from the "far out crazy" stuff like Polaris, to the more conventional horror stories like Dreams... or the Shunned House.

The edition itself is great value for money. It is clear that Joshi possess an large pool of knowledge on the life and works of Lovecraft. Every story contains several notes with references to other works of Lovecraft himself or other authors for further reading.

Horror stories are meant to be just that, stories, not novels or books or trilogies. Lovecraft follows more on the tradition of Poe and Dunsany than Stoker. And for my money, I'll take Lovecraft over Poe any day.
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on 3 September 2009
Having read Penguin's Call of Cthulhu and The Thing on the Doorstep, I felt obliged to buy the final instalment of the series.

If you're new to Lovecraft, the Penguin series is an excellent place to start, being one of the few publishers to produce attractive editions of his collected stories. They are also well annotated with S T Joshi's informative, unobtrusive endnotes.

Joshi, an academic who seems to have made Lovecraft his primary interest, does not seem to think very highly of many of the stories in this collection. "Cannot be ranked among his better later efforts", Joshi says of the title story. He has similar doubts about many of the other stories herein. (So had Lovecraft it seems, though often the writer was too harsh on himself).

I tend to agree with Joshi: many of the stories in this collection are hard going (to say the least). The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath borders on unreadable: at around 100 pages long, Lovecraft's elaborate, uninterrupted prose quickly wears very thin.

It made me miss the shorter, simpler stories from the earlier volumes. There are simply too many stories about dreamt cities here, and not enough "creepy tales" like The Colour out of Space or The Music of Eric Zahn (two of Lovecraft's best stories).
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on 22 May 2013
The Penguin classics represent the best way to enjoy Lovecraft. Not only are the books excellent quality but i believe the stories are corrected text from Lovecrafts original writing. The big advantage is there are extensive footnotes for each of the stories by HP Lovecraft scholar and biographer S T Joshi, an interesting read in themselves. You can buy cheaper paperbacks but for the fan and the completist these are the best.
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on 2 January 2017
Was a gift
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