Years Best Books (so far): LOVECRAFT’S MONSTERS edition
Both Johann Thorsson at Book Riot and Matt Barone at Complex Pop Culture included Lovecraft’s Monsters on their best books of 2014 (so far) lists.
Lovecraft’s Monsters, edited by Ellen Datlow
Lovecraft wasn’t the greatest of prose writers. He had some truly original ideas and made them come alive in his world, but today his writing feels a little …. clunky. Lucky for us, his ideas live on and a great deal of writers honor him by writing stories that take place in his world. Which brings us to Lovecraft’s Monsters, a collection of Lovecraft-inspired stories and poems written by some of today’s greatest genre writers. Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Bear, Caitlín R. Kiernan and Joe Lansdale, too name a few. I’ve long been a Lovecraft fan (his stories, remember, not his prose and certainly not the man himself) and this collection is a pleaser for those of use who like the dark stuff. There’s a story in the anthology by Brian Hodge, The Same Deep Waters as You, that is the stand-out for me and still gives me shivers just thinking about it. If you like Lovecraft even a little bit, this collection is a must. –Johann Thorsson
Matt Barone at Complex Pop Culture:
Lovecraft’s Monsters, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tachyon Publications)
Like how indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg or jack-of-all-trades James Franco seemingly never sleep, always releasing new projects, genre fiction editor Ellen Datlow apparently lives in a world where days are comprised of more than 24 hours. Or she’s just the hardest working woman in the game. It’s the latter, of course—come December, Datlow will have released five new collections, all of which are dedicated to horror and, rest assured, are four-star material. She’s the reigning queen of short-form literary scares.
Datlow’s first 2014 offering, Lovecraft’s Monsters, features many of horror fiction’s best writers paying homage to the grandaddy of them all, H.P. Lovecraft. Whether they’re evoking Lovecraft’s sense of cosmic dread or directly referencing his otherworldly monster all-stars (i.e., Cthulhu, the Deep Ones, the Shoggoths), Datlow’s roster of imagination-heavy scribes avoid pastiche to create their own brands of fantastical madness. Neil Gaiman checks in with “Only the End of the World Again,” with its werewolf protagonist having a run-in with the Elder Things, Lovecraft’s sea-dwelling gods; the great Joe R. Lansdale uses musical appreciation to achieve Lovecraftian macabre with “The Bleeding Shadow,” my second-favorite story in Lovecraft’s Monsters following the enigmatic and reliably nightmarish Thomas Ligotti’s “The Sect of the Idiot,” an existential creep-show set in a strange little town.
As if the stories themselves weren’t enough, Lovecraft’s Monsters also includes original artwork by illustrator John Coulthart, each drawing more stunning than the previous one (and two of which you can see at the top of this post). Seriously, Coulthart’s beautifully grotesque images are worth the expense alone.
For more information on Lovecraft’s Monsters, visit the Tachyon site.
Cover and illustration by John Coulthart.