He emerged as the dream-ridden soul: the one who spoke of the terrifying shadow in the corner. H.P. Lovecraft was gifted with the subtle words that, even today, shake the foundations of the horror genre. Throughout the years, his work, which has highlighted by false realities masking a horrific and unfathomable truth, has inspired a legion of fans and an entire sub-genre of horror. There are plenty of films that walk the Lovecraftian path. John Carpenter’s “In the Mouth of Madness” and “Prince of Darkness” certainly did.
Many authors of Horror Literature, as Stephen King, described him as the greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale in 20th Century and many former aspiring authors later paid tribute to his mentoring and encouragement through the correspondence.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft contributes many poems and essays. His first published story, “The Alchemist”, was a short story that written in 1908, when Lovecraft was 17 and it first published in November of 1916. The earliest commercially published work came in 1922, when he was thirty-one. By this time he had begun to build what became a huge network of correspondents. His frequent missives made him one of the great letter writers of the Century. Among his correspondents were Robert Bloch (Psycho) and Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian series).
H.P. Lovecraft, who created a grand and horrific complex world of Ancient Gods, that was very unique to Lovecraft and to Horror Literature, wrote 1 or 2 novels and most of his works were short stories and novellas.
So, if you are a fan of Dark Fantasy, Horror, Gothic and Weird Fiction and you want to read his books… and if you dare to get into this bleak world, where time will slow as the journey begins while madness will fall upon you… what?! You insist? Okay, then, here are some of his most famous books that you can read right here right know! Good luck!
A university student is forced to take the only lodging he can afford. On a strange street named “Rue d’Auseil” he finds an apartment in an almost empty building. One of the few other tenants is an old German man named Erich Zann who plays viol. He lives on the top floor and when he’s alone at night, he plays melodies never heard before. Over time, the student gains Zann’s trust, and eventually learns of his secret, that the old man has discovered melodies and rhythms of sound of an almost otherworldly nature. Zann plays these sounds to keep back unknown and unseen creatures from Zann’s window, which is said to look out into a black abyss, most likely another dimension.
An unnamed surveyor from Boston attempts to uncover the secrets behind a shunned place referred to by the locals of Arkham as the “blasted heath”. Unable to garner any information from the townspeople, he seeks out an old man by the name of Ammi Pierce, who relates his personal experiences with a farmer who used to live on the cursed property, Nahum Gardner. Pierce claims that the troubles began when a meteorite crashed into Gardner’s lands in June 1882. As the meteorite shrinks and eventually disappear, Gardner’s crops come in unnaturally large and abundantly. When he discovers that, despite their appearance, they are inedible, he becomes convinced the meteorite has poisoned the soil.
Over the following year, the problem spreads to the surrounding vegetation and local animals, altering them in unusual ways. Gardner’s wife and son eventually go mad, forcing them to lock them up in the attic. During this time, Gardner slowly begins to isolate his family from the rest of the town and Pierce becomes his only contact with the outside world.
Shortly, Gardner’s son eventually dies while his another son goes missing during an excursion, to retrieve water from the contaminated well. After two weeks of silence from Gardner, Pierce visits the farmstead and witnesses the tale’s eponymous horror for the first time in the attic.
8. The Outsider
“The Outsider” describes the miserable and apparently lonely life of an individual, who appears to have never contacted with another individual. The story begins, with the narrator explaining his origins. His memory of others is vague, and he cannot seem to recall any details of his personal history, including who he is or where he is originally from. The narrator tells of his environment: a dark castle amid an “endless forest” of high, lightless trees.
At the place where the stairs terminate into crumbled ruins, the narrator begins a long, slow climb up the tower wall, until he eventually finds a trapdoor in the ceiling, which he pushes up and climbs through. Amazingly, he finds himself not at the great height he anticipated, but at ground level in another world. Upon visiting the castle, which he finds “maddeningly familiar,” the narrator sees a gathering of people at a party within. Longing for some type of human contact, he climbs through a window into the room. Upon his entering, the people inside become terrified.
“The Rats in the Walls” is narrated by the last descendant of the De la Poer Family, who has moved from Massachusetts to his ancestral estate in England, the ruined Exham Priory, following the death of his only son as a result of injuries sustained in the First World War. To the dismay of nearby residents, he restores the Priory.
After moving in, the protagonist, and his cat, frequently hear the sounds of rats scurrying behind the walls. Upon investigating further and through recurring dreams, he learns that his family maintained an underground city for centuries, where they raised generations of “human cattle” – some regressed to a quadrupedal state – to supply their taste for human flesh.
Maddened by the revelations of his family’s past and driven by a hereditary cruelty and his anger over his son’s death, the narrator attacks one of his friends in the dark of the cavernous city and begins eating him. He is subsequently subdued and placed in a mental institution. At least one other investigator, Thornton, has gone insane as well.
Soon after, Exham Priory is destroyed and the investigators decide to cover up the existence of the city. The narrator maintains his innocence, proclaiming that it was “the rats, the rats in the walls”, who ate the man. He continues to be plagued by the sound of rats in the walls of his cell.
“The Shadow Out of Time” indirectly tells of the Great Race of Yith, an extraterrestrial species with the ability to travel through space and time. The Yithians’ original purpose was to study the history of various times and places, and they have amassed a “library city” that is filled with the past and future history of multiple races, including humans. Ultimately the Yithians use their ability to escape the destruction of their planet in another galaxy by switching bodies with a race of cone-shaped plant beings who lived 250 million years ago on Earth.
The story is told through the eyes of Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, an American living in the first decade of the 20th century, who is “possessed” by a Yithian. He fears he is losing his mind when he unaccountably sees strange vistas of other worlds and of the Yithian library city. He also feels himself being led about by these creatures and experiences how they live. The narrator at first believes his episode and subsequent dreams to be the product of some kind of mental illness. His initial relief at discovering other cases like his throughout history is withered when he discovers that the other cases are too similar to his own to be without a connection. The narrator’s dreams become more vivid, and he becomes obsessed with Archaeology and Ancient Manuscripts (as was the Yithian) – but lacks any sort of proof that would demonstrate whether he was (or is) simply mad.
I. The Shadow on the Chimney
The narrator, a Monster Hunter, hearing tales of a “lurking fear” upon Tempest Mountain, takes his two strongmen with him to investigate. They camp inside the deserted Martense Mansion, as a lightning storm approaches, and feeling strangely drowsy, they all fall asleep. The narrator wakes up to find both his companions missing, and in a flash of lightning sees a demonic shadow cast upon the fireplace chimney from a grotesque monster like the other one.
II. A Passer in the Storm
Continuing his investigation, the narrator teams up with Arthur Munroe, a journalist. The two find as much information as they can about Mansion and environs, until they find themselves trapped by yet another storm. Bunkered in a small cabin, they witness a bright flash of lightning. Arthur looks out the window to survey the damage. The narrator, curious as to why Arthur is still staring out the window, turns him to find his face chewed off.
III. What the Red Glare meant
As the narrator digs open the grave of Jan Martense, he describes the history of the Martense family. Upon reaching the coffin, he falls into a subterranean burrow. He crawls along, until he sees two eyes reflecting his torch-light in the darkness. Yet another lightning-strike causes the tunnel to cave in above the beast and the narrator has to dig his way to the surface.
IV. The Horror in the Eyes
The narrator continues to search for more clues, until he finds out that peculiar mounds of earth lead out in lines from the Mansion. While an another storm approaches, he finds a hiding place, where he watches as countless creatures crawl from the hole. Then, the narrator sees one of the weaker members of the grotesque mob get attacked and eaten by one of its compatriots. He shoots it and he notices the creature’s heterochromia and realizes that the deformed, hair-covered creature is in fact a member of the Martense family, who after many years of isolation have degenerated into ape-like creatures.
1st Chapter: The narrator begins by telling us how he instigated a secret investigation of the ruined town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, by the U.S. government. He proceeds to describe in detail the events surrounding his initial interest in the town. When he was twenty one, he was waiting for the bus that will take him to Innsmouth and he busies himself in the neighboring town of Newburyport by gathering information on the town from local townsfolk; all of it having superstitious overtones.
2nd Chapter: We read, in details, about his ride into Innsmouth, described as a crumbling, mostly deserted, seacoast fishing town full of dilapidated structures, and people who look just a bit odd and who tend to walk with a distinct shambling gait. Only one person in town appears normal, who is a citizen from neighboring Arkham. The narrator gathers much information from him including a map of the town and the name of a local who might be a good source of information: an ancient man named Zadok Allen, known to open up information about the town’s history when plied with drink.
3rd Chapter: Is composed of the conversation between Zadok and the narrator. Zadok has seen much in the town and goes on at length, telling a tale of fish-like humanoids known as Deep Ones, who live beneath the sea. It seems they bring prosperity in the form of an excellent haul of fish for the fishermen, as well as fantastically wrought gold jewelry to those who offer them human sacrifices. These fish-frog men are amphibious, and have the ability to reproduce with humans. The hybrid offspring have the appearance of normal humans in early life but, in adulthood, slowly transform into Deep Ones. When hard times befell Innsmouth, Obed and some followers did what they could to call up the fish-frog men in their New England town, causing an increase in the town’s wealth. He also established an “church” in honor of the Deep Ones’ deity, called the Esoteric Order of Dagon. However, Obed and his minions were apprehended by the authorities and the remaining Innsmouth residents balked at the idea of sacrificing humans to the Deep Ones. Outraged, the Deep Ones attacked the entire town one night, and slaughtered more than half of its population; the survivors were left with no choice but to offer human sacrifices to the Deep Ones, and also men and women to mate with them. The countless deaths were soon blamed on an unknown plague. Zadok is at first angry that the narrator appears not to believe him.
4th Chapter: After seeing strange waves approaching the dock, he becomes frightened, and tells the narrator to leave town immediately, because they have been seen. When the story is over, the narrator is unnerved but thinks it the product of an overly fertile imagination. Once the narrator leaves, Zadok mysteriously disappears, and is never seen again.
5th Chapter: The narrator wakes up unharmed and quickly walks to the next town named Rowley. Over the years that pass, he begins doing research into his family tree, discovering some disturbing information along the way. Eventually it becomes clear that he is a descendant of Obed Marsh himself, and nightmares soon accompany the narrator’s realization that he is changing into one of the creatures.
When local newspapers report strange things seen floating in rivers during a historic Vermont flood, Wilmarth becomes embroiled in a controversy about the reality and significance of the sightings, though he sides with the skeptics, blaming old legends about monsters living in uninhabited hills who abduct people who venture too close to their territory. He receives a letter from Henry Akeley, a man who lives in an isolated farmhouse near Townshend, Vermont. He affirms that he has proof that will convince Wilmarth that he must stop focusing on the race’s existence. The two exchange letters, including a record of the extraterrestrial race chanting with human agents, who worship several beings, including Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep, the latter of whom “shall put on the semblance of men, the waxen mask and the robe that hides”. Akeley writes that he has met with the extraterrestrial beings and has learned that they are peaceful.
Furthermore, they have taught him of marvels beyond all imagination. He urges Wilmarth to pay him a visit and to bring along the letters and photographic evidence that he had sent him. Wilmarth reluctantly consents. Wilmarth arrives to find Akeley in a pitiful physical condition, immobilized in a chair in darkness. Akeley tells him about the extraterrestrial race and the wonders they have revealed to him. He also says that the beings can surgically extract a human brain and place it into a canister wherein it can live indefinitely. During these conversations, Wilmarth feels a vague sense of unease, especially from Akeley’s odd manner of buzzing whispering.
The story is written by the geologist William Dyer. He writes to disclose hitherto unknown and closely kept secrets in the hope that he can deter a planned and much publicized scientific expedition to Antarctica. On a previous expedition there, a party of scholars from Miskatonic University, led by Dyer, discovered fantastic and horrific ruins and a dangerous secret beyond a range of mountains taller than the Himalaya.
The group that discovered and crossed the mountains found the remains of fourteen ancient life forms, completely unknown to science and unidentifiable as either plants or animals, after discovering an underground cave while boring for ice cores. Their highly-evolved features are problematic: their stratum location puts them at a point on the geologic time scale much too early for such features to have naturally evolved yet. Because of their resemblance to creatures of myth mentioned in the Necronomicon, they are dubbed the “Elder Ones”.
The narrator, named Thurston, recounts his discovery of notes left behind by his grand-uncle, Brown University linguistic professor Angell after his death. Among the notes is a small bas-relief sculpture of a scaly creature which yields “simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.” The sculptor, an art student named Wilcox, based the work on delirious dreams of “great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths.” Frequent references to Cthulhu and R’lyeh are found in Wilcox’s papers.
Angell also discovers reports of mass hysteria around the world. More notes discuss a 1908 meeting of an archeological society in which New Orleans police official John Raymond Legrasse asks attendees to identify a statuette of unidentifiable greenish-black stone resembling Wilcox’s sculpture. It is then revealed that the previous year, Legrasse and a party of policemen found several murdered women & children being used in a ritual by a cult, in a shunned region of a Louisiana swamp.
Thurston discovers a 1925 article from an Australian newspaper which reports the discovery of a derelict ship, the Emma, of which second mate Johansen is the sole survivor. Johansen reports that Emma was attacked by a heavily armed yacht called the Alert. The crewmen of the Emma killed those aboard the Alert, but lost their own ship in the battle. With the exception of Johansen and another man, the remaining crew died on the island; and Johansen does not reveal the manner of their death. Upon traveling to Australia, Thurston views a statue retrieved from the Alert which is identical to the previous two. Johansen’s widow provides Thurston with her late husband’s manuscript, wherein the uncharted island is described as being home to a “nightmare corpse-city” called R’lyeh. Johansen’s crew struggled to comprehend the non-Euclidean geometry of the city and accidentally release Cthulhu, resulting in their deaths. Johansen and one crew-mate flee aboard the Alert and are pursued by Cthulhu. Johansen rams the yacht into the creature’s head. Cthulhu explodes into a green mist, only for his injury to regenerate. After finishing the manuscript, Thurston realizes he is now a target of Cthulhu’s worshipers.