I get asked rather frequently by patrons for horror recommendations, but it’s always a tricky question. While the explosion of the urban fantasy and paranormal romance readers seem to be the most frequent horror reader’s I encounter, I have also noticed a disturbing trend of people looking for H.P. Lovecraft read alikes. I say disturbing because I find Lovecraft to be one the scariest writers who ever lived. His creation of the whole concept of cosmic horror is one I find terrifying, especially the way he manages to mine the fertile area between weird fiction and gothic horror.
I’m also not alone in my enchantment for Lovecraft’s take on world-building. Two short story collections have recently come out that are not just inspired by Lovecraft’s distinct writing style and horror tropes, but take his ideas in surprising directions.
The Book of Cthulhu features horror luminaries such as Ramsay Campbell and Joe R. Lansdale, as well as science fiction mainstays like Bruce Sterling, Gene Wolfe and Kage Baker. The stories run the gamut from classic cosmic revulsion to political horror to satire. The subject matter is varied enough to keep you guessing, but the homage of the project is just enough to make the book a cohesive and goosebump-inducing trip you shouldn’t miss.
The second new short story collection inspired by Lovecraft is New Cthulhu: TheRecent Weird. While this collection shares some of the same authors and stories from the above mentioned collection (like Elizabeth Bear, Laird Barron and Cherie Priest) it manages to have its own distinct flavor. With strong offerings from well-known authors like Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Caitlín R. Kiernan as well as lesser known talents such as Sarah Monette and Paul McAuley.
Finally, if you’re hunting for an impressive single author collection of Lovecraftian dread, look no further than Laird Barron. Over the course of two short story collections, Occultation and The Imago Sequence, Barron has proven himself as one of the most capable acolytes out there. His stories are as dreamy and horrific as only the best nightmares can be.