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Book Review

Book Cover

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Folio Society Hardback)


Author: H.P. Lovecraft
Illustrations: Omar Rayyan
Publisher: The Folio Society
RRP: £75.00
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Publication Date: Available now

The Folio Society of London has released two versions of this collection: the Limited Version which is bound in eco simulated leather blocked with a design by the artist Dan Hillier, who also produces six illustrations eight mandalas. The version received for review is the Core Edition, bound in cloth blocked with a design by the artist. It is set in Italian Old Style with Goudy Forum as display, and incorporates 472 heavy pages and 18 stories, with a title page spread and six black and white illustrations inspired by the weird and bizarre and ultimately brilliantly dark stories of HP Lovecraft. Endpapers spot varnished with a design by the artist, gold gilt page tops, and a printed metallic slipcase 10” x 6.75”. There is a very entertaining and informative preface by author, comic writer and all-round eccentric Alan Moore.

There is something to be coveted about a quality, lovingly constructed hardback book (it’s better than coveting your neighbour’s ass!). This is a very nice book, and any new publication of the stories I know and love so well is always cause for celebration in my opinion. Lovecraft is easily in the top three horror fiction writers of all time, and I would even venture to say was quite possibly the greatest. He dubbed his own style as Weird Fiction, but is possibly better described as Cosmic Horror.

Now, you would think with a publication format as unique as this we might be expected to be offered the complete works of this great writer. Instead, we have what turns out to be a quite diverse collection of his tales. Every fan will undoubtedly have their own favourites and that’s to be expected; however, I have some reservations about some of the choices presented. Possibly the notion is to vary the types of story to show originality of style and content. Nevertheless, certain more well-known examples are always going to have more impact on the untried reader.

The inclusion of those seldom represented in Lovecraft collections has to be commended, but Celephais (featuring a dream city which might just be real), and Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (a potted history of relations involving a white ape race), may just leave newcomers somewhat cold without the context of other stories. Herbert West – Reanimator is more well-known because of the film, and this is precisely the reason why I’m not keen on the then contemporary variation on the Frankenstein theme.

I like the inclusion of The Outsider, Cool Air, and The Statement of Randolph Carter – all effective stand-alone tales of the macabre. But the best examples are left until last: no collection should be without the mesmerising The Call of Cthulhu (uncovering the background to a small idol of the greatest and most terrible of the Ancient Ones), then we have The Colour Out of Space (wherein an object is uncovered which corrupts the land and anyone living on it – a keen personal favourite), The Whisperer in Darkness (correspondence to a man studying a frightening phenomenon), and The Shadow Over Innsmouth (I love this one too, in which a little sea port is overrun with humanoid sea mutants who worship or fear a god).

As the book contains large areas of blank page around the print, you wonder if more content could have been added. I realise At the Mountains of Madness is pretty much a novel, but it would have been nice to see the excellent The Strange High House in the Mist, The Shadow Out of Time, and The Dunwich Horror. Still, any true book collector with cash to spare will lap this book up and perhaps see it as an investment. I very much enjoyed revisiting these timeless classics.


Ty Power

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