By Derek Gunn
THE GODS OF H. P. LOVECRAFT is a dream of an anthology. For anyone who loves Lovecraft, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, and any of the others who have kept this mythos alive, make some room on your bookshelf. The anthology collects the twelve principal deities of the Lovecraftian Mythos, hands them over to some of the world’s best writers and stands back. There isn’t one name I did not know and many already on my own bookshelves, so this really is a treat. As if that wasn’t enough we also get some great artwork and individual commentary on each of the deities by Donald Tyson.
I could really stop the article here, as anyone who has read, and loved Lovecraft, has probably already stopped reading and has gone out to buy the book. But, for those who are still reading let me elaborate a little more.
H. P. Lovecraft created the Cthulhu Mythos through a series of short, and some not so short, stories where man’s place in the universe was portrayed as insignificant against such cosmic beings. The stories were groundbreaking, horrific, and utterly captivating. Many other authors began to write within the universe, expanding its ideas and horrors until it has grown to a much-written about fictional universe.
This anthology takes twelve of the Deities, provides insightful details by Donald Tyson for each one, and the authors do the rest. Aaron J. French is the editor-in-chief of Dark Discoveries magazine, editor of various other anthologies as well as this one, and also acts as editor for many novels with JournalStone Publishing. I will outline some of the stories below but not too many as you will want to read these yourself.
“Call The Name” by Adam Neville. Neville is billed as the UK’s answer to Stephen King. While this is a very lofty boast, you will find it hard to refute as far as this story goes. Wonderfully atmospheric and current, it depicts the descent of the world into chaos and destruction as the story’s main character slips further into dementia and madness…or does she? Beautifully written, with descriptions that drip and ooze from the pages, this is an incredible start to the anthology. I had to go onto Amazon and download one of Adam’s books after reading this one.
“Yog-Sothoth” by Martha Wells. I am more familiar with Wells’ fantasy work so I was looking forward to seeing how she handled the darker side of life. What begins as a missing persons case becomes far more once a disembodied entity attempts to open a doorway to another dimension. Crisp writing and underlying terror make this a story you will want to finish in one sitting.
“Petohtalrayn” by Bentley Little. True horror royalty for this tale as Bentley Little shows us why he is considered a master of the genre. A mysterious room filled with strange artifacts and a dark figure throughout history who heralds great destruction lead to an unexpected climax.
“Doors Never Close” by David Liss. A strange interview with a decidedly musky man opens up a dream research job for Arthur. But the dream quickly sours as the true meaning of high finance and research into the arcane lead to more than he bargained for.
“Apotheosis of a Rodeo Clown” by Brett J. Tully. An opportunity to make a little extra money for a likable but permanently broke rodeo clown goes terrible wrong in an abandoned mining shaft that isn’t quite as abandoned as he thought. Crisp, first-person writing draw the reader into this one.
“In Their Presence” by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore. I love both of these authors and have read most of what they have written so I eased a little more into my chair as I began. A recently discovered sunken vessel with a past shrouded in mystery finally gives up its treasure but is it not what the crew were expecting. Golden and Moore work well together as they weave a great tale of celestial terror.
“Dream a Little Dream” by Jonathan Maberry. Again one of my favorites. The names just keep coming in this anthology. This one is a Sam Hunter story. Hunter is a PI with a little more ability than most. This is a long story and I loved every line. A simple request to take possession of an artifact and keep it safe until the morning becomes far more than Hunter bargained for. Night-gaunts, the Thule Society, and a gateway to the Dreamlands are only some of the obstacles in this story. But, did I mention that Sam Hunter is no ordinary PI?
“In the Mad Mountains” by Joe R. Lansdale. A ship wreck sees the passengers of Lifeboat Number Three carried to safety away from the sharks and the desperate survivors still in the water. However, their good fortune may not be quite as favorable as they had hoped as they are carried towards a huge iceberg with ships frozen within its huge mass. I loved the creeping terror of this one as the story unfolded.
There are too many stories to list them all here. Suffice it to say that I did not pass by any of them and each was sufficiently different to keep me reading through the whole anthology rather than dipping in and sampling as I usually do with a collection of stories.
Aaron French has done a great job in bringing all these top names together, and the short comments by Donald Tyson highlight details about each story’s subject matter. The artwork adds beautifully to the brooding atmosphere of the book. All in all well, worth adding to your collection. Anyone who loves this genre will want to have a copy and anyone who has never been terrified by tales of the Dreamlands, The Necronomicon, or Cthulhu will find this an excellent place to jump on board the phenomenon which is the “World of H.P. Lovecraft.”
Aaron J. French is a book editor for JournalStone Publishing and the Editor-in-Chief for Dark Discoveries magazine. He has edited several anthologies, including Songs of the Satyrs, Monk Punk & Shadow of the Unknown Omnibus, and The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft (Winter 2015) from JournalStone Publishing, which includes new Mythos work from the biggest names in horror fiction, including Adam Nevill, Laird Barron, Bentley Little, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Joe Lansdale, and Seanan McGuire.
To learn more about The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, please visit the Journal Stone website.