Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft H.P. Lovecraft
In the mood for some Eldritch horror? Feel like steeping yourself in Lovecraft’s frightening nihilistic dream worlds? Want to be read to by some of the world’s best story readers? Then give Blackstone Audio’s version of Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft a try. It collects Lovecraft’s entire Dream Cycle in 20 hours of high-quality audio narrated by some of my favorite readers including Robertson Dean, Simon Vance, Sean Runnette, Elijah Alexander, Stefan Rudnicki, Bronson Pinchot, Simon Prebble, Tom Weiner, Malcolm Hillgartner, and Patrick Cullen.
Here are the stories. (I’ve linked them to the excellent Lovecraft Archive where you can read them for free since they’re in the public domain, but please consider this audio version, because it’s really excellent):
Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft H.P. Lovecraft
Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas
Jeffrey Thomas’s new novella, Red Cells, is set in his PUNKTOWN universe full of mutants, odd species, and humans, and the good, bad and ugly of each. Red Cells deals more with the ugly: Edwin Fetch has earned himself a six month term in the penitentiary for possession with intent to sell purple vortex. Specifically, he’s to be shipped to the Trans-Paxton Penitentiary, known to its inmates as the Wormhole, a transdimensional prison carved out of the planes between existence. But Fetch has a better idea. He hires Jeremy Stake, a mutant whose condition is called Caro turbida, to serve the time for him. Stake’s mutation allows him to assume the shape of another if he concentrates hard enough on it, and Stake has had a tattoo of Fetch (holding a gorgeous woman for verisimilitude) inked on his arm to keep him focused. Stake is a former soldier in the Blue War, which ended fift... Read More
And the Darkness Falls edited by Boris Karloff
In 1943, Boris Karloff was induced by his old friend Edmund Speare, an English professor and book editor, to assist in putting together an anthology of horror stories; as Speare put it, "a collection of bogey stories selected by a professional bogey man." The resulting volume, Tales of Terror, consisted of a six-page introduction by Karloff and 14 stories, ran to 317 pages, and was a popular release with the public. On the strength of that book's sales, the two tried their luck again with an even more ambitious project. The result was 1946's And the Darkness Falls, a whopping volume running to 631 pages and containing 59 short stories, each with an introduction from Karloff, in addition to 10 short, eerie poems scattered throughout. An impressively wide-ranging survey of the horror story, this staggeringly generous volume presents tales from as far back as the 8th century A.D.... Read More
Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft
For those who just can’t get enough Lovecraft, Blackstone Audio has just released this lovely collection of a significant portion of his work. It contains 56 of his horror stories, poems, letter excerpts, and essays. Notably missing are his longer works (e.g., “At the Mountains of Madness” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”) and a few of his most popular short stories which are so often collected elsewhere (e.g., “The Call of Cthulhu,” and “The Dunwich Horror”).
Most of the stories in Eldritch Tales: A Miscellany of the Macabre are vaguely related to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, or at least his general premise that the universe is inhabited by a race of horrible ancient gods who sleep but are occasionally awakened by cultish worshipers from the darker regions of our planet... worshipers who usually eventually go mad.
Here are the stories... Read More
Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
British author William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost-Finder first saw the light of day in 1913. Consisting of six short stories, drawn from the pages of The Idler and The New Magazine, the collection was ultimately expanded to include nine stories, the last three being discovered after Hodgson's early death at age 40 in April 1918. In this fascinating group of tales, we meet Thomas Carnacki, a sort of occult investigator in Edwardian London. Just as Carnacki seems to be patterned on a similar fictional psychic investigator of the time, Algernon Blackwood's John Silence, a casual reading of the Carnacki stories will reveal the influence that Hodgson's Sistrand Manuscript, Outer Monstrosities and "electric pentacle" defense had on later authors such as Read More
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
William Hope Hodgson's epic novel The Night Land was chosen for inclusion in James Cawthorn and Michael Moorcock's Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, and yet in this overview volume's sister collection, Horror: 100 Best Books, Stephen Jones and Kim Newman surprisingly declare the novel to be "unreadable." No less a critic than Read More
The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
My ongoing attempt to read all 200 books spotlighted in Stephen Jones’s and Kim Newman's two excellent overview volumes, Horror: 100 Best Books and Horror: Another 100 Best Books, has led me to some fairly unusual finds. Case in point: Sadegh Hedayat's The Blind Owl, which is — or so claims the Grove Press edition currently in print--"the most important work of modern Iranian literature." Originally published in Bombay in 1937 under the Persi... Read More
Dark Duets edited by Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden explains in his introduction to Dark Duets that writing is a solitary occupation right up until that moment an alchemical reaction takes place and a bolt of inspiration simultaneously strikes two writers who are friends. Golden has found that the results of collaboration are often fascinating and sometimes magical, as when Stephen King and Peter Straub teamed up to write The Talisman. Writing is an intimate, very personal process, Golden says, and finding someone to share it with is difficult but exciting. Golden therefore undertook to create a book full of such diffi... Read More
The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson
William Hope Hodgson's first published novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907), is a story of survival after a disaster at sea, and of the monstrous plant and animal life-forms that the survivors encountered while trying to reach home. In his second book, the now-classic The House on the Borderland (1908), Hodgson described an old recluse's battle against swine creatures from the bowels of the Earth, and the old man's subsequent cosmic journey through both time and space. And in his third novel, 1909's The Ghost Pirates, Hodgson returned to that milieu for which eight hard years at sea had provided such an extensive background.
The book takes the form of a narrative told by able-bodied seaman Jessop, who had been sailing on the Mortzestus from San Francisco to (what we can only presume to be) England. As its name suggests, the ship has something of t... Read More
Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg
At one point in William Hjortsberg's masterful horror novel, Falling Angel, Epiphany Proudfoot, a 17-year-old voodoo priestess, tells the detective hero Harry Angel, "you sure know a lot about the city." The city in question is the New York of 1959, and if Angel knows a lot about this crazy burg, then Hjortsberg, in the course of this tale, demonstrates that he knows even more.
While much has been said of this book's scary elements — its voodoo ceremonies and Black Mass meeting and horrible murders — what impressed me most about this tale is the incredible attention to realistic detail that the author invests it with. I don't know if the author grew up in this town in the '50s or just did a remarkable research job, but the reader really does get the impression that this book (which came out in 1978) was written a few decades earlier. Roosevelt Island is called Welfare Island, quite ... Read More
The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
William Hope Hodgson's first published novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907), is a tale of survival after a foundering at sea, replete with carnivorous trees, crab monsters, bipedal slugmen and giant octopi. In his now-classic second novel, The House on the Borderland, which was released the following year, Hodgson, remarkably, upped the ante, and the result is one of the first instances of "cosmic horror" in literature, and a stunning amalgam of science fiction and macabre fantasy. An inspiration for no less a practitioner than H.P. Lovecraft, the book really is a parcel of malign wonders. Once read, it will not be easily forgotten. I myself read the book for the first time some 20-odd years ago, an... Read More
The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf
A novella-length piece written by a Swiss pastor in 1842 that initially seems to serve more as a religious parable than anything else — an unlikely choice as a Top 100 Horror selection, one would think. And yet, there it is, Jeremias Gotthelf's The Black Spider (or, as it was titled in its original German, Die schwarze Spinne), holding pride of place in Stephen Jones and Kim Newman's excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books. In his article in that volume, author Thomas Tessier refers to the novella as "one of those relatively rare examples of an outstanding horror novel that deservedly ranks among the best of world literature." And in his scholarly introduction to the currently in pr... Read More
The Boats of the Glen Carrig by William Hope Hodgson
The conventional words of wisdom for any aspiring new author have long been "write what you know," a bit of advice that English author William Hope Hodgson seemingly took to heart with his first published novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig. Before embarking on his writing career, Hodgson had spent eight years at sea, first as an apprentice for four years and then, after a two-year break, as a third mate for another long stretch. And those hard years spent at sea were put to good use not only in The Boats of the Glen Carrig, but in his third novel, The Ghost Pirates, and in many of his short stories and poems as well. According to August Derleth, "No other writer — not Conrad nor Melville nor any other — has so consistently dealt with the eternal mystery of the sea," a sentiment very closely echoed by Read More
Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume 1, edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson
Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume One, is a publication of Grey Matter Press, a small publisher of all genres of horror. The anthology has no theme — something of a rarity these days, when most anthologies are restricted to a particular type of monster (zombie, werewolf, vampire; you know the drill). Few of the writers who contributed stories to this anthology are known to me, though there are a few big names. It’s a solid collection of stories, edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson to fine effect.
The anthology opens with one of the strongest stories. “Mister Pockets” by Jonathan Maberry is set is his PINE DEEP universe, several years after the events of... Read More
Wild Fell by Michael Rowe
Wild Fell begins in the small town of Alvina, Ontario, in 1960, when Sean Schwartz asks his high school sweetheart, Brenda Egan, if she believes in ghosts. Whether he’s trying to scare her into cuddling closer, looking for some excitement to end the summer before school begins again, or is entirely sincere in his question, his question is a prelude to asking Brenda if she’ll cross a mile of Devil’s Lake to Blackmore Island to explore the remains of a mansion called Wild Fell. It takes some persuading, but Brenda reluctantly agrees, only to change her mind when they’re halfway there, suddenly frightened. Sean is disappointed, maybe angry, but the evening is saved by an illicit bottle of wine and a bonfire. But Wild Fell isn’t done with them, and the curtain of the prologue falls as a legend begins.
Michael Rowe sets his hook firmly with this prologue, but then he lets the line ou... Read More