Wednesday, January 31, 2007

By H.P. Lovecraft

At the Mountains of Madness is one of H.P. Lovecraft’s best novellas. It is also the title of this collection of some of his minor masterpieces.

The title tale concerns an expedition to a mysterious region of the Antarctic. When they discover evidence of strange life forms and an unknown civilization, things go terribly wrong. Some readers may find Lovecraft’s pseudo-history overlong, but HPL wasn’t about splatter effects (though “Mountains” has its share of gruesome sights) he was fascinated with man’s place in the universe. The book includes the pre-Cthulhu “The Shunned House” and the later “Dreams in the Witch House”. “Shunned House” shows HPL making very effective use of traditional horror material in creative fashion. “Witch House” comes more form his “cosmic horror” phase when he freely mixed science fiction elements with horror (much as in “Mountains”).

This is a very good small set of novellas. It is essential reading for horror fans and not a bad place to start for newcomers trying to get a handle on the strange appeal of Rhode Island’s master of the weird.
-Dave Hardy

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