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Book Review

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Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth

Authors: H.P. Lovecraft
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £8.99, US $14.95, Cdn $16.95
ISBN: 978 1 78329 131 1
Publication Date: 30 January 2015

Innsmouth is a town well known to lovers of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories, a Massachusetts seaport with links to strange areas of the southern seas and eventually subject to an FBI raid, supposedly to uncover smuggling, but in actual fact to stem the tide of its ichthyoid population.

Here is the world of sleeping gods, as old and as cold as space, awaiting their time to rise from their city in the depths of the ocean, dreaming of the destruction of mankind.

Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth (2015. 375 pages) is a reprint of the third in the series of anthologies, preceded by Shadows over Innsmouth and Weird Shadows over Innsmouth. The series is edited by Stephen Jones. This edition contains sixteen short stories, one poem by Lovecraft and a forward by Jones. At the back of the book are short resumes for the contributing authors.

Save for the occasional story, which still remain in the Lovecraft world, all of the stories are about or orbit Lovecraft's original 1931 novella. Taken as a whole, there is so much information about what happened in Innsmouth either directly or by inference that you get the whole event and do not need to read the original story, although I would recommend you do, if only to appreciate Lovecraft’s prose.

For the most part the stories follow the usual formula, meeting the protagonist, their creeping dread as the full horror of their situation unfurls, finally culminating in the revelation of the world's biggest calamari or half-man / half-fish creatures. I found that the vast majority of the stories were worth reading and some even tried to break out of the formula. Kim Newman's ‘Richard Riddle’ is written in the style of an Enid Blyton story, the horror being balanced by the sort of naiveté which allows jolly japes to occur and given that the Great Ones originated in deep space, sadly, only Brian Lumley’s 'The Long Last Night' could be considered science fiction.

This being the third anthology you may think that we're getting into the problem of diminishing returns, but this is far from the case. It would be fair to say that there were only two of the stories I didn’t really get on with, but this was from a standing of personal preference rather than any issues with the writing. One thing which did surprise was how well the various stories meshed together. Placing these stories together, collectively, gives you an extended history of what happened at Innsmouth and its fallout and the stories build up in a complimentary way to tell a much bigger story.

The full list of the contributions is:

'The Port' by H.P. Lovecraft (poem)
'Innsmouth’s Bane' by John Glasby
'Richard Riddle, Boy Detective in "The Case of the French Spy"' by Kim Newman
'Innsmouth Clay' by H.P.L. & August Derleth
'The Archbishop’s Well' by Reggie Oliver
'You Don’t Want to Know' by Adrian Cole
'Fish Bride' by Caitlin Kiernan
'The Hag Stone' by Conrad Williams
'On The Reef' by Caitlin Kiernan
'The Song of Sighs' by Angela Slater
'The Same Deep Waters as You' by Brian Hodge
'The Winner' by Ramsey Campbell
'The Transition of Elizabeth Haskins' by Caitlin Kiernan
'The Chain' by Michael Marshall Smith
'Into The Water' by Simon Kurt Unsworth
'Rising, Not Dreaming' by Angela Slater
'The Long Last Night' by Brian Lumley

Even for someone who is not a great lover of the horror genre, this collection was well worth picking up.


Charles Packer

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