7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
anansi reviewed At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror on
Helpful Score: 4
You can not go wrong with H.P. Lovecraft.
He is the unsurpassed master of horror writing - and the increasingly antiquated feel of his books only adds to the macabre atmosphere.
Highly Recommended that everyone collect a complete Lovecraft catalog.
I've read dozens of reviews by well known people who claim that Lovecraft is the virtuoso of horror, a terrifying read from start to finish, blah blah blah. In fact, on the back of the particular book I'm reading Stephen King himself says, "H.P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."
I picked up "At the Mountains of Madness", wondering how I got to be 30 years old without reading something by this astounding genius. The back of the book claims that this story is "...Lovecraft's indisputable masterpiece. In the barren, windswept Antarctic, an expedition uncovers strange fossils...and mind-blasting terror."
So I snuggled with it in a darkened room intent on discovering this mind-blasting terror for myself...and dozed off. Don't get me wrong. This author is a genius, but he's more Temperance Brennan genius than Charlie in the Chocolate Factory genius. It's like he created several whole new worlds, only half hinted at in fabled books such as the Necronomicon and Pneukotic Manuscripts, then told us about them in a monotone, medical book-like format, even to the point of dropping scientific sounding names of people we've never heard of or care about. When he couldn't get the emotion he wanted out of it, he threw an entire encyclopedia of adverbs at it and said, "There. Now it's scary!"
My favorite sentence so far is on page 30 as he describes the backdrop to newly discovered mountains. You won't be able to count the number of adjective on two hands:
"That seething, half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world."
I re-read this for the first time in years and its pretty good, but not as good as I remember it. Lovecraft does an excellent job of invoking the remoteness of Antarctica, removed from the rest of civilization, with the discovery of an advanced pre-human civilization under less than ideal circumstances.
I guess I didn't find it as good as I used to is because I know more than I used to and that Stirling is right: the world is smaller.
Four short novellas by H. P. Lovecraft. The title piece is the story of an expedition to Antarctica that leads a group of scientists to the edge of the known universe. The work contains the origins for much of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, which was the basis for the majority of his work.
This volume contains "At the Mountains of Madness" and three other stories; I've reviewed them below separately.
At the Mountains of Madness:
I had really looked forward to reading this, since I've been curious about the Cthulu mythos for a long time now, and wanted to see Lovecraft's work directly.
What an amazing disappointment.
This story was all about our protagonist telling us he was scared. What was he scared *of*??? Stuff that he's too distraught to talk about. Stuff that, if known, would shatter the sanity of all humanity. But this kind of description doesn't make *me* scared... It makes me *curious*. And that curiosity is never answered by the story, in any way at all. Very disappointing. 2 stars.
The Shunned House:
This was an exercise in mood setting, I suppose. This story is about a man learning about something horrible, and which seems more and more horrible as he learns more. But what he learns more about are the effects of this horror, rather than the horror itself. And even in the conclusion, the horror itself is hardly described at all; rather the effects of that thing are what Lovecraft makes clear. As a whole, the story was moderately enjoyable, but I'm getting tired of "some things man shouldn't learn". 3 stars.
The Dreams in the Witch-House:
This was a story of a man studying "too hard" and breaching into the evil spaces beyond our own. I liked this story a lot better than the others, because the antagonist is made much more clear and concrete, while still maintaining that sense of dread. 4 stars.
The Statement of Randolph Carter:
This is a really short, seven-page story. And it is in a similar style of not presenting the evil, but presenting the reaction to that evil. And when kept to seven pages, it works. I guess I just can't handle that descriptive mode when the tale goes on for hundreds of pages... 3 stars.
Dare I state "the emperor has no clothes"? I know Lovecraft is lauded as a "seminal horror author of the 20th century", but I found this novella to be a turgid piece of crap. The only horror to be found in this story is the excruciating pain the reader experiences by wading through 100 pages of Lovecraft's verbose and redundant narrative.
Natalie R. reviewed At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror on
I was somewhat disappointed. I guess I thought Lovecraft would be creepier. Today's readers (me?) might be jaded by just how many creepy things already are. I enjoy a cold setting, so the novella (At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror) suited me just fine. Lovecraft sent me repeatedly to my unabridged dictionary and enjoy vocabulary challenge. While some works of his disturb people because of historically biased racism,that was not evident in this volume.