Book Review: Shadows Over Innsmouth – H.P. Lovecraft, Others

I’ve been meaning to get into H.P. Lovecraft, but to be honest, I keep putting off because of some childhood trauma.  Ma Dukes used to devour a steady stream of H.P. Lovecraft’s books and short stories, and once I came across the cover of one of them.  I was so horrified at what could possibly have been contained within the pages, I couldn’t even look at a Lovecraft book without remember my childhood horror.

All of that went out of the window with Titan Books’ reissue of Shadows Over Innsmouth.  I had a basic familiarity with Cthulhu from the old days where some of my folks would play Call of Cthulhu all day and night.  Yet, I was utterly unprepared for the terror within.  As a horror fan, this is SUCH a good thing.

Shadows Over Innsmouth starts off much like Beyond Rue Morgue with the original story starting off the book.  After an informative introduction, in this case by Stephen Jones, the anthology starts with Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the short story that started it all, set in 1920s Massachusetts.  I quickly found out why Lovecraft is not only a must-read for fans of the horror genre, but a master writer and storyteller.  Goosebumps manifested themselves as I kept reading and anticipating the worst from the vile, humanoid creatures of Innsmouth, and their inhuman handlers off Devil’s Reef.  The people of Innsmouth are in a cult from hell, with their study of the Necronomicon, and participation in the Esoteric Order of Dagon.  They do not take kindly to outsiders, and should they pry too much, they may find themselves sacrificed to ravenous creatures from the sea.

I actually had to put it down for a few days to read lighter offerings.  I was that completely immersed.  There’s not much that I can say about Lovecraft that hasn’t been said already, so I won’t waste your time.  However, by the time I finished the first tale, I knew I was going to like the book… Immensely.

Aside from the introduction and the original short story by Lovecraft, there are 16 short stories altogether that travel through time from the original incidents in the 1920s, and spanning over seven decades.  Shadows Over Innsmouth boasts an impressive cadre of English writers, such as Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman, whose way with words, and gifts for storytelling, engulfed the reader’s imagination.

Some stories are scarier than others in that they add a certain supernatural element, while others were more science-fiction/horror, but they were all extremely well-written and suspenseful.  In this time of the year where bookworms like myself are apt to curl up under a nice blanket, reading until our eyes close involuntarily, I cannot recommend Shadows Over Innsmouth (on sale now) enough.  It will take up all of your time, and you will find yourself staying up or sneaking away to read it.  It is one of the best horror books I have ever read.  My only complaint is that it was too short (it was almost 500 pages, by the way)…

And I’m ready to take on Lovecraft.  Bring it on!