Lovecraft’s Monsters – book review

lovecrafts-monsters b-cover

Lovecraft’s Monsters

edited by Ellen Datlow
anthology – Tachyon Pyblications
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Lovecrafts Monsters - Ellen DatlowThe book starts off with a great story by Neil Gaiman titled, Only the End of the World Again. We find a werewolf in Innsmouth who incidentally saves the world by stopping the arrival of the elder gods. It is an enjoyable read because of its comical aspects.

In the story, Red Goat Black Goat, by Nadia Bulkin, two well-off children on a farm estate learn the harsh lessons of the goat god, and why you should never scoff at its rules.

The Same Deep Waters as You, by Brian Hodge is a top story in the collection. A woman who is known as an animal whisperer is brought to a secretive Atlantic Island prison to assess the prisoners. The prisoners are the last surviving population of Innsmouth, deformed and fish-like, and unable to speak. They have begun a new ritual. They are all facing the same direction in unison towards the ocean. They are waiting for something. Something wonderful.

And then we have the story by Thomas Ligotti called Sect of the Idiot, which I had already read in his anthology, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, but was happy to revisit here. A man enamored by a small but unusual town unlocks a hidden cosmic horror. As his curiosity leads him into the malignant hidden underbelly of the town, he will forever become a participant in the madness. This is close to reading an actual story by Lovecraft if he were alive today. Ligotti has all the mannerisms, atmosphere and stylings of Lovecraft without ever feeling derivative and he rarely touches upon tentacles or Cthulhu things from the sea.

Next we have a Lovecraftian Southern Horror story, The Bleeding Shadow, by Joe R. Lansdale. This one connected with me because it incorporates music, blues specifically, and updated the old crossroads story. As always, Joe relayed the tale with a distinct character and a wonderful character voice.

There are some other high points in the book and some stories I liked less. As with all collections there are stories that you will favor. I’ve listed my favorite here and to me, these alone made Lovecraft’s Monsters worth a read.

available from Amazon.com


not part of the book but loved the art

not part of the book but loved the art…


parlor of horror book reviews

Winter Reading – Horror

winter reading

Winter Reading Recommendations

for the horror fan…

Winter is a great time to read. There’s more down time in your life because the weather limits you from outdoor activities. The isolated feel of the weather and the early sundown also set the ideal mood for a good horror tale. Here are some great horror fiction stories and books to read during the winter months. They all have winter themes running through them, cold, snow, holidays, and isolation.

Winter Reading List

Short stories:

The Windego – Algernon Blackwood
Christmas Eve at Aunt Elsie’s – Thomas Ligotti
The Chimney – Ramsey Campbell
The Vending Machine – Mark Lukens
The Glamour of the Snow – Algernon Blackwood
At the Mountains of Madness – HP Lovecraft
The Yattering and Jack – Clive Barker

Books:

Who Goes There – John W. Campbell
Storm of the Century – Stephen King
The Shining- Stephen King
Winter Wake – Rick Hatula
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Dead of Winter – Brian Moreland
Snow – Ronald Malfi 
NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

winter pic

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If you have any more suggestions, leave them in the comments.
I would love to know your favorite winter theme horror stories…and I’ll add them to the list.

 

What are your favorite winter reads?

Parlor of Horror’s Book Reviews

Parlor of Horror’s Book Reviews

From Classic to Modern, Gothic to Pulp, here’s some book reviews so you can choose your winter reading enjoyment.

Click on a book cover to read a review:

full dark no stars - stephen king 20thCenturyGhosts - Joe Hill in-the-tall-grass - king - hill Joe Hill horns book

throttle knidle book cover monstrous 20 tales thomas ligotti - teatro grottesco  ligotti - songs of a dead dreamer

the-spectral-link-thomas-ligotti thomas ligotti - my work is not yet done  The Nightmare Factory - Ligotti Hour of the beast

chthulhurotica Flesh and Leftovers - Rick Pipito keyport-cthulhu What-the-Night-Knows-Dean Koontz

The Narrows - Ronald Malfi RC Dark Companions deadfall hotel - tem the great god pan by arthur machen

ghost and horror stories of Ambrose Bierce best ghost stories of Algernon Blackwood arthur machen - the white people and other dracula-the-un-dead-by-dacre-stoker-and-ian-holt

a dark collection - mark lukens Beavers! - Joseph F Parda b Bentley Little the Haunted A Psychos Medley - Terry M West

cecil and bubba meet the thang whatpricegorycover Tales+from+the+Beaumont+House+by+D.F suspended in dusk anthology

long island noir the king in yellow book 1


parlor of horror  – book reviews

 

The Spectral Link – Thomas Ligotti

the-spectral-link-thomas-ligottiThe Spectral Link
Thomas Ligotti

With Ligotti’s work, you always get the sense that his writing is a catharsis and that within a wholly functioning story the author is working out some deep personal dilemma behind the scenes. It’s always way in the background of his stories like a forgotten skeletal sub-plot. However, in The Spectral Link, it seems his mental insecurities have taken center stage in his story telling. After a short preface we are treated to two tales, short but welcomed, the first fiction from Ligotti since a longer than 10 year hiatus.
Metaphisica Morum
At the urging of a dark figure in his dream called The Dealer, a man works on his psychiatrist to perform a specific deed he describes as the “All New Context.” The man’s demoralization at it’s peak, he wishes to take the next step in withdrawal from life. Eventually, the psychiatrist, Doctor O, moves from his office and leaves no forwarding address for the man. Each time he moves he is found by his persistent patient. Dr. O inevitably witnesses ‘The Dealer’ himself and succumbs to his patient’s wishes, although it seems those wishes have changed.

In The Small People, the character has to deal with the intrusive spread of a race of small people that seem to have no rhyme or reason to their existence. There are themes of bigotry and prejudice explored within this story along with severe paranoia. Eventually the boy grows up and seems to see ‘the small people’ in everyone around him including his parents. He ligotti artbelieves them to be conspiring against him for unknown reasons but in tandem with the small people. In the end he begs his psychiatrist for answers to life’s questions, to which there are none. The story makes you deal with the prejudices within yourself; uncomfortable situations and ideas are presented to your intellect to stew over.

Overall, these tales are different than Ligotti’s other horror fiction, but in line with repeating themes of his work. I think the biggest difference is the focus of the stories are turned inward upon the writer himself further demonstrating his nihilistic views. The stories make you twitch with discomfort and longing for an answer that is never found. I find shadows of Franz Kafka in these tales which can leave the reader in a state of woeful dread. Depending upon the degree the reader lets themselves fall into the stories, it makes it all the more difficult to shake off the cloud of dread and climb out of the black hole Ligotti has led you into. And that’s the horror of these stories.
The Spectral Link on Amazon

Horror Art – Magnificent Book Covers

rowena artwork 2 Black-Book-(reduced-size) Lucifer Society

Horror Art – Magnificent Book Covers

Michael Whelan “Lovecraft’s Nightmare Part 1 and 2” paintings became numerous covers to Lovecraft collections.

Aeron Alfrey creates unique imagery inspired by the macabre, grotesque and monstrous, infecting the covers of many Thomas Ligotti books.

Rowena has her artwork gracing the covers of many books from sci-fi, to swords and sorcery, to horror. Here are a few examples.

The 1980’s Stephen King covers had simple but effective design. I got used to seeing the silver and red, author and title.

And following those are some of my Clive Barker faves.

Frank Frazetta – I was quite disappointed when I learned the Frank Frazetta Museum in PA had closed. I always wanted to visit one day. Below, the first three are some samples of Frazetta book covers.

Boris Vallejo – It is easy for me to say that it was the Boris cover art (along with Frazetta) that first got me to read books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.

And here are the last of assorted book covers that catch my eye:

Songs of a Dead Dreamer – Thomas Ligotti – book review

ligotti - songs of a dead dreamerSongs of a Dead Dreamer – Thomas Ligotti (1986)

This is Ligotti’s first collection of stories, a book that is now out-of-print and editions sell for prices ranging from $26 to $260 on Amazon and Ebay. This was the very first book I downloaded onto my Kindle-Fire and may have been part of the reason I even wanted an e-reader in the first place.

This collection encompasses the strange worlds and people in the Ligotti universe. They all start off as rather bland subjects – an artist with no imagination in one, a Christmas Eve at Aunt Elsie’s in another – but take a wicked turn during the course of the tale. The artist stumbles upon a church to an unknown God in a dream, waking to find his latest painting has changed. The young man, tired of Aunt Elsie’s fireside story, leaves the house and is drawn through the fog by twinkling Christmas lights to a house that should be abandoned. They are all weird tales and subtle horror, so do not expect blood and guts violence or dominating monsters to rise from the ashes of nuclear fallout. And this collection from his earliest writings is not super strong on character development. However, the overall absurdness and abstract reality of his writing shines through in many places.

In Dr. Voke and Mr. Veech, the doctor searches a seedy part of town to engage the service of one Mr. Veech. He is told to bring his wife and best friend down a certain block at a certain time. Once there, the cheating spouse and her lover are suddenly plucked from the street by some unknown force. Dr. Voke looks up to see them dangling by strings, somehow turning into wooden puppets before his eyes.

In Sect of the Idiot, a man rents a room in an old town. The town is claustrophobically clustered, with stacked roof peaks overhanging one another, upper stories of shops and homes reaching to unknown heights and blocking out the sky. A knock at the door by a stranger leads the man to a high room in the highest towering structure in the town, where some sort of entomo-aliens sit in commune and oversee the town’s activities. They have a special reason for summoning the man, a fact he will soon learn.

The abandoned mental hospital in Dr. Locrian’s Asylum holds some bad memories of wicked events that took place there. The asylum casts a constant shadow upon the town and a blemish on its good standing. However, when the townsfolk decide to tear it down, they unleash all the trapped souls that have so long been waiting for this day, to exact revenge upon the town that ignored their cries.

Songs… also includes two essays on writing. In Notes on Writing Horror, Ligotti describes different writing styles, then takes one short story and rewrites it in several ways to exemplify those styles. In Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horrors, Ligotti attempts to explain man’s want and need for horror from a historical perspective.

While not all the stories share the same persistent voice as his later works – most were written for the small press with common small press themes – in many you can see that Ligotti’s unique style had already solidified. His strange worlds of puppets and clowns, hypnotists, conspiring entities and strange troupes with hidden agendas, rush forward from the darkest places of man’s psyche.

Recommended for fans of Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, Poe.

ligotti

“Life is a nightmare that leaves its mark upon you in order to prove that it is, in fact, real.”  Thomas Ligotti

My Work Is Not Yet Done – Thomas Ligotti – book review

My Work Is Not Yet Done – Thomas Ligotti
Virgin Books – paperback edition

All that is wrong with the corporate workplace is brought to light in this short novel by Ligotti. Every paranoid thought you ever had about working in a company office is confirmed and played to the extreme; from the boss stealing your ideas and passing them off as his own, to the office floozy setting you up for a sexual harassment complaint. When Frank Dominio’s seven co-workers conspire against him – leaving him no choice but to resign – he plans the ultimate revenge. Then, something happens to him that makes his vengeful plans seem simplistic and minor. Bestowed with supernatural powers, Frank devises even more horrific devices for retaliation against his back-stabbing co-workers.

You’ll be turning pages faster and faster as the pace and intensity of this book increases and Frank Dominio learns the price to be paid for his dark gift. The analytical first person narrative offers stark and quirky commentary on office politic and tidbits of pessimistic wisdom concerning corporate life. This story is told like no other author would tell it and reads like a one-of-a-kind tale, both strange and familiar in its occurrences. The horrific acts of revenge dispatched by the main character reveal the dark imagination and bizarre forms of terror that lurk in the mind of Thomas Ligotti. This story is a double-edged sword because when you see tragic events in the workplace like this unfold in real life, your first thought is, “What a sicko.” However, reading this book you can’t help but root for the character exacting revenge; perhaps that is the real horror here. This is recommended for anyone who has ever had a job in the corporate world or worked in an office atmosphere.

www.virginbooks.com
www.ligotti.com