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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927)
Charles Dexter Ward, a secluded youth with a love for all things antiquated, discovers the existence of a nefarious ancestor, Joseph Curwen. Immersing himself in all things he can find about his long-dead relative, he turns to occult rituals. Slowly a striking resemblance is revealed.
Lovecraft’s only novel-length story, Charles Dexter Ward is an occult mystery that spans two continents and three centuries, a brooding narration steeped in antiquarian lore. Building a vivid (if somewhat too descriptive) image of the setting, the author traces the life of the protagonist’s ancestral double with exhaustive detail (and the occasional antequated language) before the narration returns to the present and blooms into a thrilling mystery. Despite some shortcomings (the antique dialogues and letters that are tedious to read despite their atmosphere, the exhaustive detail, the superficial occult verses) this is one of Lovecraft’s best stories, steeped in the Gothic tradition of the family past permeating the present. 5/5
The Colour Out of Space (1927)
Of the crash of a meteorite near a farmhouse and the subsequent erosion of the nearby environment; plants take unnatural hues and sizes, animals develop strange habits and patterns before dying, trees shake without any wind and human minds and bodies deteriorate.
Whenever I read this story I can’t help feeling deeply sorry about the Gardner family: despite their having committed no apparent sin or transgression, nothing that could justify their calamity, they are doomed by cosmic indifference, by the whims of a mindless cosmos. One of Lovecraft’s finest stories, it revels in a vague description of the menace, and exalts in rich atmosphere. Bordering on the folk and sci-fi genres, the Colour Out of Space stands out as the quintessential unveiling of Lovecraftian cosmic horror: helpless humans against the incomprehensible whims of an alien world. 5/5
The Descendant (1927)
In a London inn, a youth with the Necronomicon in hand consults with a crazed old man; the latter says of his family roots in Roman England, the traces of a Briton cult and his quest for the wondrous.
The fragment of a story, this was more of a London exercise for Lovecraft. There are glimpses of mystery threads and occult lore, but the whole thing is way to short to form something coherent. 2/5
History of the “Necronomicon” (1927)
A history of the Necronomicon.
Nothing more or less than what the title suggests: this very short piece reads like an encyclopedic entry for the Mythos’ most famous tome (focusing on Abdul Alhazred and the book’s travels), accompanied by a short and fragmented chronology. 3/5
The biography (and post-biography) of the Roman Ibidus.
A comic piece of writing, as evident from its title, this very short story traces the life of the imaginary writer Ibid, as well as the whereabouts of his skull. Not really appealing to my taste, yet it is something different from the writer’s usual works. 2/5
The Dunwich Horror (1928)
Of Lavinia Whateley’s son, Wilbur, his abnormal growth and his elusive father, and his sorcerous research involving the Necronomicon.
One of Lovecraft’s most famous works (and rightly so) the Dunwich Horror is a well-developed manifestation of the Mythos; an occult mystery with a wealth of lore, a slow unveiling of implicit secrets, academic investigators galore, an inhuman sorcerer and an iconic climax atop Sentinel hill. 5/5
The Whisperer in Darkness (1930)
After writing a skeptical piece on some strange sightings in the countryside, the protagonist, a literature professor, is contacted via mail by a man who claims that he can prove the validity of the uncanny rumors. As their correspondence develops, a story about extraterrestrial supra-intelligent beings emerges. Finally, the protagonist is invited to the man’s abode where he discovers fragments of the truth.
The Whisperer in Darkness verges on sci-fi horror, with its introduction of the Mi-Go race and their strange consciousness-transfer machinery equipment. Despite it being replete with (pseudo-)scientific lore and jargon, it is a thrilling page-turner. 4/5