The Best of H.P. Lovecraft-Condensed Anthology

By H.P. Lovecraft

Knowledge brings pain. Madness offers release.

2016-09-15_SA Best of HP Lovecraft Cover

Note: This is a condensed review of the anthology.
Click a title for a full review of each short story.

Lovecraft’s stories focus on the unknown, the alien, and the otherworldly. His stories confront everyday people with this hidden world, sometimes directly, more often through the accounts of the less fortunate. In Lovecraft’s world knowledge is a burden that drives many to madness. He is perhaps one of the most skilled writers when it comes to unreliable and unstable narrators; however, he also has shortcomings.

His stories start slowly and with excessive backstory. They only begin to achieve real momentum at the midpoint, before ending abruptly. He often hints at a larger narrative that remains unresolved. Of course this lack of resolution is also part of his general theme, there is no happy ending, and only those ignorant of the truth can live happily.

Within his own writing he is quite repetitive. His protagonists are often generic and somewhat flat, and his descriptions tend to be excessive, particularly when describing architecture. He has a bad habit of summarizing a scene rather than showing the reader what happened.

In spite of that he remains an accomplished author in the realm of horror, and a good read for anyone with the patience to persevere through the slow starts.

+Strong Suspense
+Strong Ideas
+Strong Descriptions
-Weak Plot
-Slow

2.5/5

The Rats in the Wall
A story of an ancient site, and a terrible secret. A prime example of “knowledge as a burden”. A slow mystery, this is one of the stronger ones in the anthology.

+Strong Descriptions
+Strong Suspense
*Slow but strong plot

3/5

The Picture in the House
A strange shack in the wilderness, with a strange owner.

+Strong Characters
-Weak Plot
-Slow

1.5/5

The Outsider
An unreliable narrator has been imprisoned for so long he doesn’t even remember why.

+Strong Descriptions
-Weak Plot
-Slow

1.5/5

Pickman’s Model
An artist with a unique gift for creating frightening images.

+Strong Descriptions
-abrupt ending
-slow

2/5

In the Vault
A dry dark comedy about a mortician.

+Strong Suspense
*Dark Humor
-Simple Plot

1.5/5

The Silver Key
A philosophical dialogue on the nature of reality, without the familiar fears of most of Lovecraft’s work.

+Strong Ideas
-Weak Plot
-Slow

1/5

The Music of Erich Zann
A strange neighbor who plays otherworldly music, and the secret behind it.

+Strong Descriptions
*Interesting Ideas
-Weak Plot

2/5

The Call  of Cthulhu
Three stories stitched together by the narrator, with all the tropes of a good Lovecraft story; the occult, monsters, and conspiracy.

+Strong Characters
+Strong Descriptions
*Strong but Fragmented Plot

3/5

The Dunwich Horror
A slow story about a peculiar family, gradually growing into a supernatural thriller.

+Strong Plot
-Weak Characters
-Slow

2.5/5

The Whisperer in the Darkness
Through correspondence two characters unravel a local legend, of monsters living in the hills.

+Strong Plot
+Strong Characters
-Slow

2.5/5

The Colour Out of Space
A strange meteorite transforms the land and lives around it

+Strong Plot
-Weak Characters
-Weak Writing

2/5

The Haunter of the Dark
An artist is drawn to an abandoned building, where an ancient power sleeps.

+Strong Descriptions
-Weak Characters
-Weak Plot

1.5/5

The Thing on the Doorstep
Lovecraft’s take on an overbearing wife.

+Strong Characters
*Interesting Plot
-Slow

2/5

The Shadow over Innsmouth
A tourist learns a secret the town will kill to keep.

+Strong Plot
+Strong Setting
+Strong Narration
+Strong Suspense
-Lengthy Descriptions

3.5/5

The Dreams in the Witch-House
A mathematician tries to combine math and the occult, but is troubled by feverish dreams.

+Strong Descriptions
-Weak Writing
-Slow

1.5/5

The Shadow Out of Time
After five years of amnesia the protagonist regains himself. His friends share strange stories about his behavior, prompting him to investigate, and uncover a most otherworldly answer.

+Strong Ideas
-Weak Writing
-Slow

1.5/5

Next Time…
Best of Lovecraft 1of6
2016/09/15

Use Reviews to see past reviews, or use the Review Index to browse by topic.

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4 thoughts on “The Best of H.P. Lovecraft-Condensed Anthology

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