Lovecraft Revisited

Confession: I have never read anything by legendary horror/fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft. And I am unlikely to do so going forward. What I have been doing is reading a bunch of books inspired by Lovecraft. I’m sure that there are references and nuances I’m missing, but I’ve really been enjoying these books on their own merit. So whether you’re a Lovecraft devotee, or if you’ve never heard of him before, here are a few recent Lovecraftian novels to check out.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff – Chicago, 1954. 22 year old African American veteran Atticus Turner discovers his father is missing and sets out with his Uncle George and childhood friend Letitia to find him. They stumble upon a secret cabal run by the Braithwhite family, who have ritualistic designs on Atticus. And that’s just the first chapter! What follows is are chapters focusing on different members of Atticus’ family and friend circle over the next year as they grapple with Braithwhite’s schemes, cursed dolls, haunted houses, and Jim Crow-era racism.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle – Con artist Charles Thomas Tester makes a living playing music and hustling on the streets of Prohibition-era New York. He gets a gig to play a dinner party at the home of a wealthy man in Red Hook, only to discover the evening involves opening a portal to other dimensions and waking things best left sleeping. This is an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Horror at Red Hook.

The Dream-quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson – Vellitt Boe, professor of mathematics at Ulthar Women’s College, lives in the land of dreams. When one of her most gifted students elopes with a man to the waking world, Vellitt Boe sets off on a quest across the Dreamlands to retrieve her. This is a quick read that is both a lovely reflection on an older woman’s life, as well as an homage/corrective/response to Lovecraft’s The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath.

Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard – Daniel Carter was a homicide detective until his last case ended badly. Lured to Providence, Rhode Island by the unexpected inheritance of a bookstore, Carter is settling in and learning the ropes from the sole employee, Emily Lovecraft, the last descended of H.P. Lovecraft. As weird deaths begin to occur, Carter & Lovecraft investigate and wonder if Lovecraft’s stories were entirely fictitious.

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys – Picking up where Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth left off, in 1949 Aphra and Caleb Marsh are the only two remaining descendants of the Deep Ones. At the request of the FBI, Aphra leaves her home in San Francisco to go to Miskatonic University to study artifacts, and to hopefully head off a suspected Russian plot to use the secrets of her people in the Cold War.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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