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4.4 out of 5 stars
31
H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus 1: At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels of Terror
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on 31 May 2012
Very nice book, love HP Lovecraft and this is one of his better works in my opinion. It is not a masterpiece, but definately worth the read
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on 2 September 2014
Very good book, can't put it down
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 July 2014
This cheery little book of fun tales was my baby's favourite bedtime story reader for many years. How she giggled and gurgled at the antics of the amusing Shoggoths and their merry band of friends...

Now she's stolen my copy and it's in her bedroom somewhere.

Mountains of Madness is among my favourite short stories, if not THE favourite short story in my, er, _her_ collection. It's very clearly, though uncredited, the inspiration for The Thing From Another World but because it evolved via John W. Campbell's story "Who Goes There?" there's no case to answer. What is particularly wonderful about this story is the creation of atmosphere. Lovecraft famously excels at creating "atmosphere" in his writing perspective of the terrified beyond reason narrator who has glimpsed something whose full contemplation must necessarily drive anyone completely and irrevocably insane, but that's not what I mean here. Lovecraft gives us a sense of being there, even in few words.
The airplane flights.. I can feel myself in the freezing, unpressurised Dornier and smell the oil, hear the engines, feel the vibration and enjoy the anticipation of reaching somewhere alien and wonderful, yet bleak and inhospitable. Lovecraft manages to imply all this almost by omission in snatches of dialogue, turns of phrase without resorting to tedious travelogue.
You either know the story or you're in for the treat of your life. Every time I hear that a film might be made I panic, horrified that it might not do the book justice. Maybe Stuart Gordon could direct a decent adaptation, or Peter Jackson - but I suspect that any film maker will stylize it with his own spin and miss the beauty of the original.

There are the other stories in the volume, all of them crackers. I would recommend this above all the other titles to anyone new to Lovecraft and indeed, if I could only take on of his books to my desert island, this would be the one.

Thirty years ago, Lovecraft was largely unheard of outside of the collections of certain daylight-shunning and moribund individuals who would bookend Agrippa with Charles Dexter Ward and Paracelcus or Regardie with crumbling and yellowed copies of revelatory expositions of encounters with Cthulhu. Now it is becoming, by inexorable insinuation, mainstream. The logical extrapolation of this is the inevitable release of Call of Cthulhu by Disney. They did it with The Hunchback of Notre Dame - who would ever have thought it? Thrill to the dancing, many tentacled Old Ones having a great old knees-up, wearing ice skates..

I shudder at the horror of it.
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on 4 December 2012
No devotee of H.P. Lovecraft should miss having this volume in their collection: however the reader who has broader tastes should be aware that the volume may not appeal to them as much. "At the Mountains of Madness" contains seven of HPL's longer works, three of which are his short novels. Like the canon of Lovecraft's work as a whole, the stories display some inconsistency in quality, however there are in the works real passages of power which render them a rewarding read.
The best of these, I feel, is the title story, "At the Mountains of Madness." This was frequently deprecated and revised by the author himself, who had some misgivings about it. It tells of a journey into uncharted lands in Antarctica, and the discoveries therein of the remains of alien races who visited the Earth in prehistoric times. The story seems to be an attempt to explain the Cthulhu Mythos, and as such contains lengthy descriptions of the race and its culture, which would actually be unwarranted in an initial exploration. It also reads like an archaeological tract, and lacking any real dialogue throughout, has a somewhat stodgy and trudging pace. Lovecraft himself realised this during his revisions. Despite this, the story contains an atmosphere of mystery, cumulative tension and real snatches of spectral terror, as in the hints of unnaturally high mountain ranges flung into the edge of space, glimpsed partially through the eyes of a frightened pilot. "At the Mountains of Madness" leans closely towards the field of SF, which much of Lovecraft's later work begins to approximate.
"The case of Charles Dexter Ward" is a much less accomplished work, being overly long and rather melodramatic, also having a laboured pace in search of an obvious conclusion. It tells of an individual who has obtained several re-incarnations through witchcraft, and the means by which he is identified as a wizard by terrified local citizens. The story "the Alchemist", one of Lovecraft's very early tales, provides a key to the work, of which it seems a fore-runner.
"The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" is a lengthy form of Lovecraft's Dunsanian works, and indeed contains number of characters and ideas set out in his early tales such as "The Cats Of Ulthar", "Celephais" and " "the Quest of Iranon." It is one of the Randolph Carter stories, (a version of Lovecraft himself) in which he explores some of his own ideas in a dream format. Some of Dunsany's influence can still be seen in this and "the Silver Key/Through the Gates of the Silver Key." Less structured than "At the Mountains of Madness", these tales have a rambling quality that interferes with the build-up of tension in the best of HPL's stories.
The reader can see a shift in Lovecraft's ideas suggesting that he may have been moving from mere horror to a kind of more mature version of SF/Horror predating other writers who have since worked in this vein. There is, I feel, a clear indication of a gradual maturing of his fantastic work which was never fully developed owing to his untimely death. The stories in this volume cannot really stand as the best of HPL, but they seem to represent the development of a vein which promised enormous potential. A laboured read in places, but worth it at times for the pulse of horror and glimpses of real power which can be found among the rambling. The devotee must not ignore these stories, the connoisseur must decide for himself.The flavour of the stories is purely original, and not to be found in the writings of other authors. Recommended with some reservation.
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on 13 May 2014
My first encounter with Lovecraft's work took place in a small bookshop in Hungary when I was about sixteen. I had never heard of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, but one look at the contents of that short story collection was enough to assure me that I had stumbled upon something truly special. With titles like "Rats in the Walls", "The Whisperer in Darkness", "The Evil Clergyman", "The Nameless City", or "The Thing on the Doorstep", the book seemed to exhale a suffocating miasma of terrors encountered in dark crypts, hideous nightmares, and in the touch of ancient evil.

To this day I cannot think of an author whose work is capable of casting a darker spell on the mind than Lovecraft's. In his world, the macabre lurks beneath the surface, malicious things slither in the dark, luring, tempting man with the promise of forbidden knowledge. This is a world in which the truth of existence remains hidden from the eyes of man, and those seeking it are doomed to fail in their quest, or lose their minds at the sight of what lies beyond the veil.
Lovecraft died in 1937 and left behind a body of work that influenced many of today's best horror writers. And yet, I know of no author whose work comes close to the suffocating atmosphere of malevolence and sheer creepiness found in Lovecraft's tales.
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on 2 March 2006
This collection, the first of three volumes, may well represent the pinnacle of Lovecraft's creative genius. His knack for conjuring the most horrific and fantastical of atmospheres is unparalleled; these stories will have you shuddering with captivated horror at the incredible otherworldly landscapes and monstrosities leaping from their pages.
Plagued with a great sensitivity to cold from a young age, Lovecraft's first novel "At the Mountains of Madness" was perhaps a little closer to home than any other piece he attempted, and its sublime execution would perhaps imply this further. Regardless, this tale is arguably the greatest of the man's catalogue, with a gradual, drawn-out build up of tension and isolation into a frantic climax in a world so alien, beautiful and deadly. Reading this made me long to live in a world where such places as Antarctica still existed unexplored and mysterious, potentially housing that which men of the time could barely dream of. One loses oneself in those icy peaks, those ancient ruins, and yet one always feels as if they are not quite alone...
"The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" is next in line, and one can't help but feel sceptical as to how this piece will fare up against the previous mountain of a story. Don't let the slow start sway you - this one's darn great too! As with "Mountains...", Lovecraft creates an ominous atmosphere this time via gradual exploration of Curwen and Charles' dark discoveries, once again motivated by wild curiosity. Yet in this piece something far more disturbing and horrific lurks, implied constantly in Lovecraft's subtle narrative. Less beautiful, fantastical and isolating perhaps, but all the more human and realistic and TERRIFYING as a result. There is a scene involving darkness and a pit (not going into detail here for fear of spoiling it) which will stay with you for a damn long time - a claustrophobic nightmare.
Next in line comes a little break from the longer novels, with what I consider to be the least absorbing story in the volume, "The Dreams in the Witch-House". It's pretty telling that I can't remember much about this whereas I remember the previous two vividly. I recall being somewhat intrigued with the combination of mathematics, folklore, multi-dimensions and the like, but the main plot isn't all that gripping. Worth reading, nontheless.
The following four stories all focus upon a character named Randolph Carter - a man whose personality is founded upon a pursuit of the beauty found in dreams. It has frequently been said that this character is most representative of Lovecraft himself, and I must admit feeling great empathy towards him in "The Silver Key", a short prequel to "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", which can easily be read as a commentary on a dry and absurd society - as relevant now as it was then.
The best of these tales is perhaps "The Dream-Quest of the Unknown Kadath", which whilst seemingly having less focus and direction than his other two novels, is just filled to the brim with wonderous landscape after wonderous landscape packed full of creatures both stunning and diabolical. Carter's quest for the paradise city of his dreams is bizarre, yet wholly enticing. The previously mentioned "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" is also very atmospheric, though not a journey - this shorter story involves Carter's gradual venture into the realms of beings of chaos which dwarf humankind, and reveals much about the workings of the dream-world Lovecraft has created.
Lovecraft has created a mythos, from terrible beasts and Gods to ancient old writings and lands, which renders his readers both fascinated and ultimately insignificant in comparison. Treat yourselves folks, this is dark, atmospheric literature done properly. 5 stars don't do it justice.
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on 31 March 1999
Technically, I shouldn't really be reviewing this, as I haven't finished reading the book (I'm on page 527 of 547 pages), but seeing that no-one else is going to give this brilliant collection of wonderfully macabre stories a review, I feel that it is my duty to alert the world to this chilling masterpiece. What you basically have in this thick, tastelessly designed book (I suspect that the bizarre cover picture has put off many wouldbe Lovecraft fans) are Lovecraft's three full-length stories (The Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and Dreams in the Witch House) and his four Randolph Carter stories (The Statement of Randolph Carter, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, The Silver Key and Through the Gates of the Silver Key). All of them have in common a unique style of writing which is quite off-putting at first, but you find yourself pressing on because the actual stories themselves are quite brilliant.sinisterly linked subjects. At the Mountains of Madness is quite hard to get into, and I forsee some people giving up quickly (I did, only to return to it much later), but the events describe and the things that Dyer and Danforth find out from the ancient city on the platue make comulsive reading. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is even better, and I for one could not put it down. The ending is very clever indeed. Dreams in the Witch House is different from the first two, but in concept rather than style, as it deals with Colonial witches. If you can get through the bizarre other-plane scenes with their vague and dreamy descriptions then you'll probably find that this is the scariest of tall the stories in the book. Once again, it is not so much the descriptions that make the story (as they do in most other tales) but the actual events. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath is like none of the other stories, and although it starts off as passable fantasy, it quickly becomes unreadable. Even the introduction condemns it. The Silver Key follows on from Dream Quest, but is completely different. It is more of a psychological study and social satire that gradually turns into a Charles Dexter Ward-style mystery. Very compulsive reading. Through the Gates of the Silver Key is more of the same, only it tells the story of what happens after Ward goes into the forest in more detail, although the vagueness that surrounds any description of events on other planes makes going a bit hard half-way through. So then, buy this book, tear out pages 361 to 487 and sit down to an evening of horror. Bwahahaha!
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on 23 February 2002
The first of three omnibus editions of the great mans work. This one includes his longer works.
Anyone with any interest in the horror genre will be aware of Lovecraft ... many of his stories have been made into films over the last few years - with varying degrees of success (re-animator, from beyond etc). But this is the source material. When reading his work you can really see where modern authors of horror have been influenced - Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert and especially Ramsay Campbell and Brain Lumley who have both extended the Cthulhu Mythos in their own work.
Lovecrafts style is unique, many stories weren't released until after he had died, in the main because he thought they were poor. He was most disappointed when 'at the montains .. ' was rejected. When reading stories in this volumne I was struck with the contrast in his writing - the macarbe and the surreal. I find his more macarbe tales the readable .. whereas 'Dreamquest of unknown Kadath' his less accessible.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is pure classic .. possibly my favourite horror story from any author. The atmosphere and descriptive nature has he builds the story is superb. I was left guessing until the end as to what was happening. The passages when Dr Willett is exploring the cottage is gripping to say the least.
Anyone who has seen the 'The Thing' will understand the nature of 'at the Mountains of Madness'.. a slower story than Dexter Ward but no less satisfying...again many of the horrors are left to the readers imagination.
All the stories in this book are more than worthwhile .. and any fan of the genre will be left wanting more. This is classic in all the sense of the phrase. Gothic, atmospheric , an absolute must.
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2007
Having read a lot of horror, one name always came up as the inspiration for the modern horror writers. That name is HP Lovecraft. I had heard about his works, but never seemed to pick up any of them. Finally, i reached a point with a lot of the modern horror writers where i had seen most of it all before, and was growing tired of the same plots rehashed over and over. Too much horror these days is inspired by cinema, and in many modern horror novels you can almost pick out the set pieces that will be translated into a film scene. Feeling disillusioned, i turned to HP Lovecraft.
These tales are fantastic!They have renewed my enthusiasm for the genre once more. They are dark, malignant stories that serve up horror without falling into cliche, and treat the reader as an equal which is very rare in modern horror. The stories do not take you by the hand and lead you through the plot, with a million signposts to take you to the ending. These stories take you to the entrance of a maze, push you in and then, for good measure, switch off the lights! Superb!
The first 3 stories are excellent pieces of writing.They are called At the Mountains of Madness, the Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and Dreams in the Witch House.These are among the finest horror works you will read.
Mountains of Madness deals with an expedition to the Antarctic, and describes the discovery of a hidden civilisation, only for one half of the team to be brutally slaughtered in a mysterious fashion.The tale then picks up with the remaining team members trying to solve the mystery, by entering this hidden area, and discovering a hidden city that has subterranean passages.This story is brilliant at building up an atmosphere of suspense, foreboding and claustrophobia. It isn't particularly brutal - it rises above this, and leaves you to imagine what went on. I won't spoil the story, but this is a real winner from start to finish.
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, for me, is the gem in this collection.It concerns a young man investigating his family tree and finding a 'black sheep' of the family lurking away in one of the branches. The story deals with the titular character descending into madness, whilst filling in the details of the ancestor's questionable life. This was a real page turner and i rushed through it full of wonder and enjoyment. There is a clear progression in the story, with plenty of subplots but more importantly, plenty of gaps, to allow the reader to feel part of the tale. The ending is quite original and well-thought out.
The third story is the Dreams in the Witch House and concerns a brilliant student becoming involved in outre ideas. What could have been a standard haunted house story is given a new twist, and again shows horror writing at its best.
The final stories are the Dream Quest of Unknown Kaddath,The Silver Key, and Through the Gates of the Silver Key. These to me are much weaker stories. And i didn't enjoy these half as much as the 3 Cthulu Mythos stories. These are more dark fantasy than horror, thought again, there are areas of remarkable brilliance within them.
I loved Lovecraft's style of writing.It is completely different to any other horror writer's - though if you read HG Wells, there are some similarities. The style adds to the horror and the feeling of impending doom.

Who would this appeal to? Any other jaded horror readers out there for one! Fans of Brian Lumley's Titus Crow novels should definitely read this, as Lumley is a Lovecraft fan beyond measure.The fact that these stories are as frightening and original today as when they were written is a real testament to their brilliance. Most horror today is instantly forgettable - Lovecraft is going to have people shivering, and cowering for many years to come................
I loved this collection, and can't wait to read the other 2 in this particular series.
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on 26 September 2003
This book is one of three which, between them, provide MOST (but not all) of Lovecrafts’ stories. Purchase Volume 1, 2 and 3 of this “omnibus”, and you will own a truly magnificent collection of this master’s works! Lovecraft, like Poe, had an untouchable talent for macabre and gothic horror stories – his works being a great influence on the wonderful Stephen King. Lovecraft’s style is simple and yet so very intricate in weaving the most captivating stories. Like Poe, Lovecraft’s works are ageless and the stuff of dreams and nightmares that will remain in your mind for many years after reading.
Sadly, not enough of Lovecraft’s works have been translated into movies, but the movie “Dagon” should give you a taste of his work if you want to view something based on his writings. Amazon stock this movie.
In truth, I would much rather have a decent hardback with all of Lovecraft’s stories – somehow your average paperback seems insufficient a medium to do real honour to such a master of this genre. BUT – this omnibus makes for a great resource and I am sure lovers of this genre will find Lovecraft’s work a real treasure within their collection.
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