H.P. Lovecraft is, in the opinion of myself and many others, one of the great American authors of horror. He created a combination of cosmic, unearthly horrors with eminently believable details that seem to set the stories in our world. His collection of fictional cursed tomes -- including The Necronomicon, Unspeakable Cults and The King in Yellow -- have appeared in numerous other stories, books, and movies. Cthulhu, his most famous entity, has appeared everywhere from the roleplaying game The Call of Cthulhu to plush figures to the recent Cthulhu Dice and Munchkin Cthulhu. Lovecraft's best form of writing is the short story (though his poetry and novels are worth reading), and The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre collects much of the best of this amazing writer.

Following an introduction by the late, great Robert Bloch (author of Psycho and a correspondant of Lovecraft), we jump into Lovecraft's worlds of madness, death, and ancient horrors returning to the present. "The Rats in the Walls" opens the collection, as the narrator grows increasingly sensitive to the noises in his ancient home -- or is he going mad? Discovered knowledge proves equally unsettling in stories like "The Outsider" and "The Picture in the House."

Lovecraft also dealt with the cosmic, whether it's the Great Old Ones that existed long before humanity, the angles and architecture that defy reason, the dreamlands that some can enter from this world, or mathematics and formulae that resemble magicks. "The Call of Cthulhu" ties many of these elements together, as a series of events across the globe reveal a horrible pattern. "The Music of Erich Zaan" presents chilling power, while "The Colour out of Space" is a New England tale of corruption and compulsion. All the stories here are excellent, combining prosaic description with nigh-indescribable menace and mind-blasting knowledge.

This isn't a comprehensive Lovecraft collection, and any Lovecraft fan will wish for more stories. (My missing picks: "The Festival," "Cool Air" and "Dagon.") But until all of Lovecraft's works are collected in one volume, The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre is the best collection of his stories that I've seen to date. This belongs on the bookshelf of any true horror fan.

Overall grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: