You can’t really review something like Cthulhu, the enigmatic extraterrestrial entity that has spawned it’s own mythos and who’s name is important enough to be autocorrected. Instead, you finally get a down to reading H.P Lovecraft’s short stories, featuring the great Cthulhu and find out th origin of this pinnacle figure in the classic horror genre. The figure Cthulhu first appeared in 1928 in a pulp magazine as a mix between a human, octopus and dragon with wings in the back and feelers in the front. In his short story “The Call of Cthluhu“, 3 short chapters unveil the legend of Cthulhu, an ancient celestial creature who came to Earth billions of years ago and was trapped under the sea inside the submerged ghost-like city of R’yleh. A mysterious cult forms around the mythology of Cthulhu and the Old Ones (giant ancient gods), spawning madness, fever dreams and a crazed, ritualistic, and unexplainable history of worship.
Fear is born out of the unknown and Lovecraft is pretty crafty (ha) at dipping his narratives in a thick slimy layer of mystique. This is the kind of fantasy-horror that’s timeless, something so big and menacing it can put our whole Lilliputian human race to it’s knees. Much has been inspired by Cthulhu, songs, radio shows, films, art….
Lovecraft’s other “weird” stories are short, concise and rich with essay-like prose, often depicting or suggesting supernatural mysteries from exotic locations like the African jungle, the rural Americas, the deep sea or the sinister history of family lineages. A twist ending is to be expected, one that builds from the opening line (a line that acts like an exposed root to a deeper, darker story that grows out from it.). The terror lies in that build up, in the seemingly normal storytelling until the great reveal. And this reveal comes through the eyes of an unsuspecting human that has little idea of what he’s getting himself into or in what kind of malevolent world he lives in.
For some classic horror, H.P Lovecraft was a great place to start. I could see it becoming a reading tradition every Halloween…especially with the bespectacled caricature found on the cover of this Penguin Classic edition.