A review from #SFX257.
THREE AND A HALF STARS
Editor: Jesse Bullington (editor)
Publisher: Stone Skin Press
Love letters to Lovecraft
If your skin crawls at Lovecraft pastiche or sub-par mythos shenanigans, don’t be put off this book. The premise is intelligent – to engage with Lovecraft through his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature”. The eighteen authors picked a quote, and wrote a story inspired by it. The results are variable, and the introduction could certainly have been pithier. But although non-Euclidean geometries and Deep Ones raise their fish-eyed heads, refreshingly the majority of the stories are non-mythos, and all are fiction of the better sort.
Chesya Burke’s “The Horror at Castle of The Cumbernauld” is most affecting. This tale of gross injustice shocks with its real-world horror, and is also genuinely “weird”.
In fact, Burke’s story is so effective it brings into stark focus the problem with modern horror: few of these stories are horrifying, frightening, or even that weird. Lovecraft’s own fiction is so chilling because its wellspring was the real (if repugnantly erroneous) terror he felt for the other. Burke’s story works because it too is powered by strong emotion – she is an African-American writer directly engaging with the terrible engine of Lovecraft’s creativity.
Unlike in H.P.’s time, modern life is too lacking in pain, madness, and fear to inspire terrifying literature. Most of us have enough to eat, and spare pennies to spend on Cthulhu plushies. Letters to Lovecraft reflects that.
Did you know?
Jesse Bullington is a writer who expends his efforts exploring Lovecraft’s mythos. This is his first anthology.