A racist with a deliberately archaic and obscure style, H.P. Lovecraft is not to everyone’s taste. Despite this, his contribution to the horror genre is unique, brilliant, and best exemplified in The Shadow over Innsmouth.
The story is typical Lovecraft. While exploring his genealogy, a student visits Innsmouth, a mysterious New England fishing town shrouded by dark rumours of a devil-worshipping cult. The narrator gradually uncovers dark, other-worldly forces, acting in both the town and in himself.
Although there are uncomfortable traces of Lovecraft’s views on race, and there are no moments of traditionally blood-curdling horror, The Shadow over Innsmouth perfectly evokes that uncanny, ineffable, Lovecraftian feeling.
As a kid, I hated anything scary, probably because I was very sensitive to the topic of death--I still can't watch dog movies. Until we started reading short stories in English. There were a lot of good contenders, by genre giants like Saki and Bradbury. But given that The Landlady sparked my interest in darkly humorous foreshadowing-driven English mystery-horror stories, it remains a favourite.
The tale follows a young man who checks into a bed-and-breakfast with an unsettling owner. I won't spoil the rest--it is a short story--but I've never seen taxidermy exhibits the same way since.
18/03/2022 Edit: Given what I know about Dahl's antisemitic and racist statements, I no longer recommend his work. I apologize for any harm and discomfort this article caused; I should have considered his actions when writing this and will do so in the future. If you are interested in a similar story by an author with better values, I recommend Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas.
Heavily symbolic with metaphors of creativity and madness, 'Lisey's Story' is the horror-romance that Stephen King names as the best book he has ever written. After the death of the famous novelist and husband of 25 years, Scott Landon, Lisey- who might be sharing a lot with King's most avid reader, his wife Tabitha- slowly unravels the mystery of how her husband got his ideas by visiting a place that haunted him. The descent into the truth challenges all she thought she knew about him and it might prove fatal, as she will soon find that imagination is sometimes a few breaths away from insanity.
Featured Image: Flickr