Lovecraft’s Monsters edited by Ellen Datlow

Antho-Lovecraft MonstersH.P Lovecraft’s epic monsters come to new life in the anthology Lovecraft’s Monsters. With a wide range of popular and fairly unknown authors, the fare ranges from entertaining to downright boring. Even taking Lovecraft’s great talent out of the equation, many stories simply under-utilize the great beasts which should be the very center of this collection.

Prepare to meet the wicked progeny of the master of modern horror. In Lovecraft’s Monsters, H. P. Lovecraft’s most famous creations—Cthulhu, Shoggoths, Deep Ones, Elder Things, Yog-Sothoth, and more, appear in all their terrifying glory. Each story is a gripping new take on a classic Lovecraftian creature, and each is accompanied by a spectacular original illustration that captures the monsters’ unique visage.

Contributors include such literary luminaries as Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Karl Edward Wagner, Elizabeth Bear, and Nick Mamatas. The monsters are lovingly rendered in spectacular original art by World Fantasy Award–winning artist John Coulthart (The Steampunk Bible).

Legions of Lovecraft fans continue to visit his bizarre landscapes and encounter his unrelenting monsters. Now join them in their journey…if you dare.

As a big fan of Lovecraft, I was thrilled to read Lovecraft’s Monsters despite having a personal dislike for short stories. That being said, I was unfortunately underwhelmed with the majority of short stories within. Most were unmemorable or simply boring, with only a few standing out as entertaining or utilizing Lovecraft’s work. Even Neil Gaiman, a favorite author of mine, really failed to deliver, giving us a jumbled modern tale.

Few stories were just ok or made me take note be it in a positive or negative way. One story by Nadia Bulkin was one such. Bulkin told the story of a woman who comes to a foreign area, only to find that the children she was meant to take care of have an eerie tie to goats. While there isn’t much to the story, it stood out for its depiction of the gruesomeness of goats. Weird but true. The writing duo of Howard Waldrop & Steven Utley gave a story which I remembered for all of the wrong reasons. Mainly the fact that they used Frankenstein and his monster to tell of monsters which live below the earth’s surface. The use of the popular monster detracts from Lovecraft’s and ends up being an unclear bit of narrative.

Despite the many stories which I was disappointed in, two were both entertaining and well written. Laird Barron brought us a tale which is delirious in a very Lovecraftian way; we’re never quite sure what is happening until the end. For any fan of Lovecraft or anyone who has ever played a game of Call of Cthulhu, this is quite in line with what one would expect from an homage to Lovecraft. Brian Hodge brings my favorite of the anthology in his modern day thriller. He writes in a way that you’re at the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen. The tale follows an animal whisperer who is called to work in a top secret prison where the prisoners are quite indescribable. That being said, Hodge manages to bring the eerie prisoners to life through sense and impressions, really emphasizing what Lovecraft wrote while letting the beings come to life to even the Lovecraft newcomer.

All in all, I don’t think I can recommend Lovecraft’s Monsters. Despite the two stories which are quite entertaining and the index of monsters at the back of the book, I still wasn’t impressed with the anthology as a whole. There were too many times when I wanted to not read a word more for me to endorse reading it. Hopefully this anthology won’t dissuade too many from venturing into the eerie world of Lovecraft.

About Natassia 143 Articles
I am a performer by trade and have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My bookshelves are full of many genres but I have a love of fantasy, SciFi and steampunk which have only spurred my performing dreams to help one of these fabulous worlds come to life. I tend to read books with a lot of edge and grit; if it's got zombies, space battles or fantastical steam inventions, I'm in. When I'm not reading or off making my own adventures, I can be caught watching movies of every era, gaming, and being scandalously political like any good steampunk heroine.