Top Five H. P. Lovecraft short stories
The end is near. Okay, so the apocalypse might not be right around the corner, but I’m thinking closer to home with the end of 2013. Year-end lists. Lots of them. Everywhere. This is less a year-end and more a review of the Gothic masters. Firbolg Publishing’s anthologies are always a mix of the authors of yesteryear and modern writers. I read a lot of literature from the 1800s. A lot. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the macabre. For those not familiar with these incredible authors, we’re offering a quick “best of” as an introduction. The stories are not necessary in any order, but they represent an overview of each author’s writing.
H. P. Lovecraft
1) “The Call of Cthulhu”
Originally published in 1928, this short story has spawned a cult following that only grows stronger each decade. The monsters, the myths, and the legends in this single story have perhaps inspired more homages, prequels, sequels, and art than any single dark fiction story ever written. Intense, insane, poetic, and frightening, Lovecraft’s tale still resonates 80-plus years later.
Readers can find the original tale plus two re-tellings from award winning authors Mike Chinn and Gregory Norris in Firbolg Publishing’s Enter at Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences available on Amazon.
2) “The Dunwich Horror”
First published in 1929, this story continues the mythos Lovecraft created in “The Call of Cthulhu.” Filled with monsters, sorcery, and the infamous Necronomicon, “The Dunwich Horror” almost never saw print. Lovecraft believed the tale so fiendish, he was worried that Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright would pass on it. History speaks for itself!
Recent editions of “The Dunwich Horror” feature it as a free-standing story and it’s also available in numerous anthologies and Lovecraft collections.
3) “The Outsider”
Published in 1926, this story has become one of the most commonly reprinted works from Lovecraft and one of the most popular stories featured in Weird Tales. Inspired by Poe and Hawthorne, “The Outsider” is a disturbing examination of life, death, and the strange supernatural place in-between.
“The Outsider” can be found in an excellent collection of Gothic masterpieces titled American Gothic Tales, edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
Inspired by his own late-night trek through the bowels of New York City, “He” was first published in Weird Tales in 1926. Like many of Lovecraft’s stories, it’s a tale of madness, sorcery, wizards, and monsters.
For a controversial anthology placing of “He” based on the sexual subtext of the tale, see Firbolg Publishing’s Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms.
5) “The Shunned House”
Based on a very real location in Rhode Island (and still standing), “The Shunned House” was written in 1924, but wasn’t published until 1937. It’s a story of obsession, death, supernatural events, and monsters. This story also marks Lovecraft’s foray into the world of publishing as a novelist. It was supposed to be his first published book (posthumously I will add), but through a series of strange events (this is Lovecraft after all), the pages were never bound. Recluse Press bailed out and Arkham House released stepped in. Fifty copies were sold as unbound pages and one hundred bound books went to press in 1961. It is considered one of the most rare releases from Arkham Press.
Although not the Arkham House rare edition, “The Shunned House” is available free in Amazon for Kindle.