Jan 25th, 2018, The Hound by H.P. Lovecraft, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

When I started reading this piece it felt like a repeat of many HPL stories. First person, confession, epistolary. Many of the narrative elements in this piece are ones I had seen from HPL. For a moment I was gripped with disappointment, as I am determined not to skip any stories in this book in case I miss even a little glimpse I might use in my own work.

However, halfway through The Hound, I began to enjoy this piece thoroughly. While it has been critiqued again and again by scholars as a deplorably written short story, some posit it is actually a parody, citing the overuse of adjectives and adverbs. And the story is at times off-putting due to this. But much of the plot makes up for it.

Two friends go grave-robbing (HPL has a thing for it) and discover a jade amulet mentioned in a book they have called the Necronomicon. They take the amulet only to hear a keening howl like a large hound somewhere off. With the amulet with them, they return home to England. Everywhere these two go they attract shadowy evil things. Things that go bump in the night. While there is a crafted ambiguity around what is actually stalking them, the piece itself gives just enough to spark a reader’s imagination. Like most of HPL’s work, the ending is not a happy one, but the experience of getting there is quite enjoyable. (B-)

Jan 21st, 2018, The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

Yes. Finally, we are onto an HPL story that is not about Herbert West. However, this is still an introduction to yet another aspect of HPL’s fictional universe. The Nameless City is the first story by HPL that introduces the idea of the Necronomicon, though not by name. It also is the first to name, and describe the Elder Race. A race of alien-like creatures that existed before humans did, and have left no trace other than the nameless city behind.

My takeaways from this piece are the parallels I can form in my own novel (WIP). I too have ruined or abandoned buildings in my piece, and I also have a portal to another world. My novel deals specifically with the spring of immortality, as does some of this story as well.

The narrator journeys deep into The Nameless City, though what he is looking for I wasn’t completely sure. He hikes so far down into this strange cavern that his torch goes out and he discovers a metal gate leading to a blinding fog. As is a recurring scene in HPL’s work, the narrator is beset by images and things he cannot process or explain. It has become rather wearisome, as all HPL’s narrators (which is pretty much just HPL) fall victim to the cop out of lines like, “What I experienced is too ghastly to be described. No. I shall not recount the horrors.” This was the first story that it really irked me. I had this thought of, Dude, I want the horrors! Tell me about them.

Jan 20th, 2018, Herbert West: Reanimator; Part VI: The Tomb-Legions by H.P. Lovecraft, The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft

The sixth and final part of Herbert West’s story finally sees the relationship between West and the narrator deteriorate completely. After Part V, in which West begins to reanimate parts of the human body, rather than a full corpse, the narrator of the story becomes disillusioned with his friend’s work. This begs the question of why this man would stay in West’s company as he becomes increasingly paranoid and deranged. It is recounted how West begins to look upon the narrator with an unnerving hunger, as well as other able-bodied people. While others do not understand the look West gives, they do perceive the fear of the narrator, and so this is why the police suspect him of foul play in the disappearance of Herbert West.

However, the narrator maintains his innocence and recounts how all the different specimens that he and West brought back to life assembled and. . . well. It isn’t pretty. And the last part of this piece shows the other-worldliness HPL was famous for. While this tale doesn’t deepen the religious mythos, it does ground readers firmly in the places that will play larger roles in the stories to come. Overall, not my favorite HPL piece, but likely a good sampling of his work.