Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. LovecraftNecronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThere are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead.
—Arthur Machen (quoted as an introduction to “The Horror at Red Hook”)

Everyone must read a little Lovecraft and Blackstone Audio’s recently published edition of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft is, in my opinion, the perfect way to do that. Like re-animated corpses, Lovecraft’s most popular stories from the 1920s and 1930s pulp magazines are brought back to life by some of the best readers in the business: Paul Michael Garcia, Bronson Pinchot, Stephen R. Thorne, Keith Szarabajka, Adam Werner, Tom Weiner, and John Lescault.

Here are the stories you’ll find in this 21-hour audio edition of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft:

  • Dagon
  • Herbert West—Reanimator
  • The Lurking Fear
  • The Rats in the Walls
  • The Whisperer in Darkness
  • Cool Air
  • In the Vault
  • The Call of Cthulhu
  • The Colour Out of Space
  • The Horror at Red Hook
  • The Music of Erich Zann
  • The Shadow Out of Time
  • The Dunwich Horror
  • The Haunter of the Dark
  • The Outsider
  • The Shunned House
  • The Unnamable
  • The Thing on the Doorstep
  • Under the Pyramids

If you’ve read more than a few Lovecraft stories before, you know what to expect here: first person narrators who are either scholars or are examining the papers of scholars, narrators who’ve gone mad or are examining the papers of someone who’s gone mad, rural settings where the superstitious rustics are inbred and degenerate, furtive swarthy-skinned devil worshippers, squinty slant-eyed Orientals, lurking perils in the cosmos, grave robbers, tentacled gods from other dimensions, shrieking demons, underground crypts, frightening legends about badly-behaved ancestors, rats and other disgusting creatures, amnesia, mind and body exchanges, secret archives, coffins, disembodied brains, corpses reanimated by evil men who’ve studied The Necronomicon. These are common elements in Lovecraft’s stories, as is the ever-present sexism, Eurocentrism, racism and his tendency to run out of imagination at some point and say that what happened next, or what the monster looked like, was “indescribable” or “unspeakable” or “unutterable.”

And then there are the frequent purple patches:

The thing came abruptly and unannounced; a daemon, rat-like scurrying from pits remote and unimaginable, a hellish panting and stifled grunting, and then from that opening beneath the chimney a burst of multitudinous and leprous life—a loathsome night-spawned flood of organic corruption more devastatingly hideous than the blackest conjurations of mortal madness and morbidity. Seething, stewing, surging, bubbling like serpents’ slime it rolled up and out of that yawning hole, spreading like a septic contagion and streaming from the cellar at every point of egress—streaming out to scatter through the accursed midnight forests and strew fear, madness, and death.

Honestly, I’d have a hard time admiring many of these stories (and would be very much tempted to call Lovecraft a hack) if it weren’t that, after his death, Lovecraft has been so influential in speculative fiction. His Cthulhu Mythos is foundational to a proper SFF/H education. I’ve read several books published within the last couple of years that refer in some way to Lovecraft’s mythos. Which is why everyone must read at least some of it.

Because this collection is so wonderfully narrated, it’s the perfect way to experience Lovecraft. Most of the stories are at least loosely connected with the Cthulhu Mythos. The best tales (because they’re either particularly imaginative, unique, exciting, or are historically important) are “The Rats in the Walls,” “The Whisperer in Darkness” (this one is brilliantly narrated), “The Vault,” “The Call of Cthulhu” (read by actor Bronson Pinchot, one of my very favorite narrators), “The Shadow out of Time,” and “The Thing on the Doorstep.”

I’m giving Blackstone Audio’s version of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft a high rating and “must read” status because of its importance to the genre and because this particular audio edition is so excellently done.

Publisher: The definitive collection of works by a master of supernatural horror. This is the only audio edition of Necronomicon authorized by the H. P. Lovecraft Estate! Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and ’30s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when first published. This tome brings together all of Lovecraft’s harrowing stories, including the complete Cthulhu Mythos cycle, just the way they were when first released. It will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Lovecraft’s fiction, as well as attract those fans who want all his work in a single, definitive volume.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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9 comments

  1. I think I like Lovecraft best when it’s played for laughs. I’m always making people read Neil Gaiman’s “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar,” and not just because I share my last name with the guy in the story.

  2. I think that if I listened to 21 hours of Lovecraft I’d wind up deep in the maw of one of the Old Ones. That took real courage, Kat!

  3. Bronson Pinchot FTW! The first TV show I was obsessed with was Perfect Strangers, when I was 6.

  4. Thanks for your review. I couldn’t find any other place that lists the stories covered in the book. Audible has reviews from a different book on Amazon linked to this audiobook.

    • Hi John,
      I know, I couldn’t find a list either, and I hope I didn’t skip any. I was planning to copy and paste the list into my review, but since there doesn’t seem to be a list anywhere on the internet, I had to construct it myself. It is possible I’ve missed something short, but I THINK I got them all.
      If you listen to it, let me know if you like it.
      Kat

      • I’ve read all of Lovecraft’s stories multiple times and I’ll be purchasing the audiobook too. I tried to purchase it on Audible a couple of weeks ago and it wasn’t available so I requested it. Now it is available, don’t know if it was my request that made it available on the site or not but I’m glad it is there.

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