Review: Lovecraft’s Monsters

Lovecraft's MonstersLovecraft’s Monsters by Ellen Datlow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As usual for an anthology I will post my status updates per story. Before I get to that, I wanted to note that this is the first time I’ve read anything Lovecraftian. (There were Eldritch horrors in the first couple Discworld books, but I had no idea what that was at the time) I think these authors did a great job creating stories based on or inspired by his creatures. If, like me, you’re a Lovecraft neophyte, be sure to read the introduction as it helps explain some of the concepts. And now the stories:

“Only the End of the World Again” : A werewolf vs people who want to bring back the Old Gods. Not too hard to pick up on the plot even though I’ve never read Lovecraft. Well-paced and delivers just the right information. Luckily, the forward explained the significance of Innsmouth.

“Bulldozer: “I cared about securing a whiskey, a bath, and a lay. Not in any particular order.”

This Wild West story involves a Pinkerton investigation that starts in media res with the first chapter in stream of consciousness. I enjoyed the story more than the first one, but apparently it’s a theme of these stories that there are some parts where the reader doesn’t really understand what’s going on.

“Red Goat Black Goat: A terrifying story involving a Lovecraftian goat that has terrorized generations of a family. Could have been an episode of Masters of Horror.

“The Same Deep Waters as You – Lovecraft as a metaphor for the war on terror, gitmo, considering others as less than human, etc. Also, what a horrific ending. HOLY MOLY!

“A Quarter to Three : Fun, more unpredictable on its own. But at this point in the anthology I have a good feel for what Innsamouth means.

“The Dappled Thing – I think this is my favorite story so far. A steampunk journey into the jungle to find the daughter of some important Lord. Mostly written in a great Victorian manner as they trek through the jungle. The Lovecraftian element is almost absent until the end when it makes for a chilling ending.

“Inelastic Collisions – A neat story about some fallen “angels” who hate being in human bodies. I saw the twist coming, but it was still well done.

“Remnants – Still working my way through this story, but has interesting elements. Old Ones have created dystopia on Earth. Then perspective shift to a civ that’s against the old ones and is trying to save some Earthlings before they’re all exterminated. The story was great and a really good setup. Some Lovecraft monsters are trying to destroy the universe. Another group is trying to keep the universe safe and is rescuing beings under attack. To raise the stakes, they can only communicate with autistic people. So it’s hard and a tension-filled story as you don’t know if they’ll be able to get the austic to communicate w/ the other survivors.”

“Love is Forbidden, We Croak and Howl – I thought this was going to be longer. It is like the beginning of a novella I would enjoy reading.

“The Sect of the Idiot – The opening image definitely has both vaginal and arachnid overtones. The story is a clever horror story. I didn’t like the style at first, but it grew on me. Quite horrific.”

“Jar of Salts – a quick poem.

“Black as the Pit” – Frankenstein x The Lost World fan-fiction? I’m partway through the story. Frankenstein finds ever more exotic lost worlds before finding the Lovecraftian horror world. Great ending. Probably best Frakenstein fan fiction I’ve ever read.

“Waiting at the Crossroads Motel” – Not my favorite. A sociopath awaits an enlightenment of sorts….

“I’ve Come to Talk with You Again” – A guy who made a deal with the Cthulhu-Devil

“The Bleeding Shadow” – “gave the hotel the gander. It was nice looking if you were blind in one eye and couldn’t see out the other.” – I love phrasing like that.

A noir Private Eye with Lovecraftian elements. Also, dunno if I’ve just been living under a rock, but never read a noir private eye story with an African American as the PI in the 50s. It was a neat change from the usual while still keeping lots of the tropes.”

“That of Which we Speak when We Speak of the Unspeakable” – Well, I did not expect that at all. A couple kids sitting around talking about the end of the world in vagueries.

“Haruspicy” – a poem

“Children of the Fang” – A little confused at the ending, but my favorite story in the anthology. Kids deal with the possibility that their grandfather discovered something out in the dessert. Also a history of their family. Very neat the way it jumps back and forth through time.

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