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These books are rated on a scale of 1 to 5. Listings are alphabetical by author within each rating.

Jones, Stephen (Ed.). Shadows over Innsmouth. Minneapolis, MN: Del Rey. 2001. (Paper)
Rating: 5 • Buy from Amazon

This volume collects short stories, for the most part recent, detailing the survival of Innsmouth's progeny. Every one of the stories in this collection is an excellent read, both thoroughly engrossing and inventive. That the volume is focused on Innsmouth is a drawback; there is little surprise in learning that the Deep Ones are involved in the plot. However, none of the stories relies on this kind of shock for its effect, and many of them offer fresh new looks at the Deep Ones, some interpreting their very nature differently. Two of the stories in the anthology are absolute stand-outs, "Beyond the Reef" by Basil Copper and "Dagon's Bell," by Brian Lumley; however, every story is well-written.

Lovecraft, H.P.. The Dunwich Horror and Others. Sauk City: Wisconsin. 1985. (Cloth)
Rating: 5 • Buy from Amazon

This volume is the one to own; it is the definitive collection of Lovecraft's best work. Every story is masterfully crafted, capable of giving a thrill read after read. The "Cthulhu Mythos" stories were actually a small part of Lovecraft's corpus; the stories are tied together by a shared mythology and attitude. The Mythos stories reveal man's place in a terrifyingly indifferent universe, where malevolent forces wait, forces which once ruled the earth but now sleep until they can once again rule. Almost all of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories are contained between these covers.

Price, Robert M. (Ed.). The Shub-Niggurath Cycle. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1994. (Paper)
Rating: 5 • Buy from Amazon

This collection is quite possible Chaosium's best to date. It continues the Cycle's usual modus operandi: to track an idea from seed through a number of branches up to the present day. To do so, it goes to a few turn-of-the-century tales of demonic goats (after all, how do we know Shub-Niggurath but as The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young?), and then goes through Lovecraft's contemporaries and to new fiction. Every story in this collection is well-written, engrossing, and enjoyable. Particularly strong here are Campbell's "The Moon-Lens," a story which could quite possibly be the introduction of many readers to the Severn Valley region; "The Ring of the Hyades," which conjures up incredible landscapes at least as well as Lovecraft himself did; and "The Seed of the Star-God," the absolute gem of the collection, in which Richard Tierney takes the reader to the Mediterranean in the decades after Christ for a marvelous sword-and-sorcery adventure.

Lovecraft, H.P. and divers hands. Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. 1990. (Cloth)
Rating: 4.5 • Buy from Amazon

A question comes to mind at the first glance at this collection's table of contents: what editor would be foolish enough to include two of the most commonly reprinted Lovecraft stories in a collection whose buyers would be almost entirely devotees? Derleth's decision to include those two stories in the first edition was not wise; James Turner's decision to do the same in the anniversary edition is downright incomprehensible. Several other stories in the collection have been reprinted before as well. Aside from squabbles with editorial policy, however, this book's contents are first-class. This is a well-put-together collection, from the editing to the introducing. Even the oft-reprinted stories are pleasures to reread again. Also, the collection does a fine job of covering the history of the Mythos, from Lovecraft and the early circle to the newer disciples; of course, it can't be comprehensive, but it gives breadth.

Price, Robert M. (Ed.). Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos. Minneapolis, MN: Fedogan & Bremer. 1992. (Cloth)
Rating: 4.5 • Buy from Amazon

A glance at the table of contents would make this book seem to be a mixed bag; while it contains plenty of little-known stories by Mythos greats, it also has soem commonly reprinted stories by equally great authors such as Howard, Kuttner, and Bloch. This is the risk any anthologist runs in the Cthulhu Mythos; some stories are going to overlap with the contents of other books the reader owns. Price makes up for this in part by including variants of stories: "The Fire of Asshurbanipal," for instance, is not the same as in most of its other print appearances. Ironically, this version is less a Cthulhu Mythos story here than in its more common version, but the story still has that Mythos atmosphere. All in all, considering the strength of the collection as a whole, few Mythos readers are going to mind rereading a few stories

Pulver, Joseph S. Sr.. Nightmare's Disciple. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1999. (Paper)
Rating: 4.5 • Buy from Amazon

It has been observed (perhaps too often) that it's difficult to write a story in which Lovecraft and his fiction are present, yet cosmic forces can still seem authentic and create suspense. Pulver succeeds brilliantly here, because the horror in this novel is primarily psychological, not supernatural. A crazed serial killer is committing murders to feed a ritual to Kassogtha; the novel details his actions and the police trying to catch him. This is a first-class psychological thriller with Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos as a backdrop; whether or not the Mythos entities in question exist really matter little to the plot. This is a read any fan of the Mythos would enjoy.

Turner, James (Ed.). Cthulhu 2000. : Del Rey (Orig. Arkham House). 1999. (Paper)
Rating: 4.5 • Buy from Amazon

This anthology is a solid collection of Lovecraftian tales. Not too many of them deal with Lovecraft's own creations, nor do too many adopt his style. Rather, they bring to life a Lovecraftian tone and plot; most do it very successfully. All of the authors are accomplished in the field, and the stories presented here are very good. "The Barrens" by F. Paul Wilson is outstanding; T.E.D. Klein's "Black Man with a Horn" is another extremely well-written story. Esther M. Friesner's "Love's Eldritch Ichor" belongs in a class by itself; it is a delightful read, quite possibly the funniest Mythos story in print. Every story in this collection is a rewarding read, although currently these stories are not at the center of the Mythos. They take the Mythos in different new directions, however, and will probably stand up extremely well to time.

Turney, Jim (Ed.). Eternal Lovecraft: The Persistence of HPL in Popular Culture. Collinsville, IL: Golden Griffin Press. 1998. (Cloth)
Rating: 4.5 • Buy from Amazon

This anthology has three parts. Lovecraft Country consists of stories dealing with Lovecraft's creations (places or beings). "Her Misbegotten Son" by Alan Rodgers, also included in Miskatonic University, for instance, is an excellent story set in a Lovecraft locale. Eldritch Influences includes stories by Thomas Ligotti, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King, Richard Lupoff, and others, all including Lovecraftian allusions. The final section, Cosmic Realms, includes stories very much in a Mythos vein but without specific Mythos allusions. For example, T.E.D. Klein's "The Events at Poroth Farm" deals with an alien being which has taken residence in a quaint farming residence; the story was the basis for Klein's excellent novel The Ceremonies. All in all, this is an excellent collection of recent horror stories which pay homage or get inspiration from HPL.

Aniolowski, Scott David (Ed.). Singers of Strange Songs: A Celebration of Brian Lumley. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1997. (Paper)
Rating: 4 • Buy from Amazon

This collection is a pleasant surprise. For many readers of the Mythos, Lumley has a reputation as a hack, perpetrator of some quantity of none-too-deep and none-too-well-written fiction. This quality is not in evidence in this collection, in Lumley's own work or the stories written in his honor. On the whole, the stories in this collection are quite well-written, showing both a keener sense of horror and better characterization than the bulk of Mythos fiction. Despite the years since their first publication and various authors' borrowings, Lumley's "Cement Surroundings" and "Spaghetti" are still fresh, exciting reads. They have a certain amount of predictability but still show innovation and craft. The collection's other writers show a range of styles and subjects while considering themes out of Lumley's work. "Shudder Wyrm" is quite possibly the best story of the collection, synopsizing Lumley's treatment of the Cthonians and even replacing it with a more coherent, dynamic one. "Bad Soil" and "Not to Force the Rhymes" display several Lumley themes and items but above all capture the action of his writing. "In His Daughter's Darkling Womb" is a powerful work, full of darkness and the cosmic import to be hoped for in a Mythos work but also keenly aware of human motivations and personalities.. "Subway Accident" and "The Reliable Vacuum Company" trace a vein of dark humor, adding a nice variety to the collection. Many of these stories share (some would say "are afflicted by") a gritty realism and concern for the contemporary. This is certainly true of Lois Gresh's "Where I Go, Mi-Go," but this story has something special. As Lovecraft tied in the science of his day with his own cosmic vision, so does Gresh today. What relativity was to Lovecraft's age, quantum physics and chaos theory are to ours, and Gresh is among the first authors to synthesize them into Mythos fiction.

Kuttner, Henry (Ed. Robert M. Price). The Book of Iod. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1995. (Paper)
Rating: 4 • Buy from Amazon

This book contains a number of stories by one of the lesser-known disciples of Lovecraft, one Henry Kuttner. Although the stories are not classics of the genre, showing development in a new direction, they rise above pastiche and provide good reading. Kuttner is certainly able to grab the reader's attention and hold onto it, and tells a good tale while he has it. "Bells of Horror" is the high point of the volume; it is a fine story set in California, a locale the author clearly enjoys. It is this setting in a number of stories that gives the stories a unique flavor; Kuttner's descriptions create a new millieu for the eldritch horrors that are the center of the Cthulhu Mythos. It is also "Bells of Horror" that first mentions The Book of Iod, a volume which belongs on the shelf with the usual suspects--De Vermis Mysteriis, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Cultes des Goules, the Book of Eibon, the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and, of course, (all together now) the horrible Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. Kuttner's ability shows itself most in his ability to create a mythology. Instead of a few separate stories, the contents of this anthology fit together in intriguing ways--but they don't fit together seamlessly, just as other myth cycles don't. All in all, this collection is a very worthwhile read.

Price, Robert M. (Ed.). Tales out of Innsmouth: New Stories of the Children of Dagon. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 2000. (Paper)
Rating: 4 • Buy from Amazon

This is the second collection of Innsmouth tales in Price's Cycle series for Chaosium. Most of these are new stories; the reprints for the most part first appeared online or in small-run 'zines, so the collection avoids the problem some of the Cycle books have of trotting out the same old warhorses. In general, the story quality is high. Stories range from the suspenseful to the amusing; Stan Sargent's "Just a Tad Beyond Innsmouth," just as humorous as its title promises, involving the Jeb and Marsh characters from "Trust Me"--think of Bartles & James wine cooler ad people as Deep Ones.

The collection's only flaw is that all the stories are variations on a theme; while the plot may be fresh, you know ahead of time that any story in a book subtitled "New Stories of the Children of Dagon" is going to involve Deep Ones.

Price, Robert M. (Ed.). The Dunwich Cycle. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1996. (Paper)
Rating: 4 • Buy from Amazon

In this volume, Chaosium once again turns out a worthwhile collection of Cthulhu Mythos stories. As usual, Robert Price's modus operandi serves them well. He begins with two Machen stories which inspired Lovecraft, both of them relatively hard to find in print before this collection, and then follows Lovecraft's story through its spawn. While this collection is by no means Chaosium's best, it provides some very good stories. One of the benefits of the "Cthulhu Cycle" series is that each volume draws the reader into a shared world, a world where different authors have sometimes competing, sometimes cooperating visions, and the reader is allowed to explore. This makes for a fine reading experience. Robert Price's story in this volume is notable. In "The Round Tower," he sweeps aside the last section of August Derleth's The Lurker at the Threshhold as an inauthentic or inconsistent ending and provides his own. Price's skill as an author is well displayed as he captures the tone and atmosphere of Derleth's writing. Ben Indick's "The Road to Dunwich" also stands out as a highly original work yet one that fits in with the book and the Mythos as a whole very well. The remainder of the works in The Dunwich Horror are also well-written and engrossing.

Price, Robert M. (Ed.). The New Lovecraft Circle. Minneapolis, MN: Fedogan & Bremer. 2000. (Cloth)
Rating: 4 • Buy from Amazon

This collection is a grab bag. A good many of the stories disappoint; they appear tired pastiches of the same rehashed Lovecraftian elements, or else unconscious parodies of the Mythos. In the preface, perhaps rightly, Ramsey Campbell suggests that the parody in some of these stories was not so unconscious; at any rate, many of these stories fail to impress. Price himself seems to realize this, so that his introduction becomes more of an apology than an apologia, excusing these stories on the grounds t hat a Mythos story is by nature a plot story. The better stories in this collection disprove that idea, however, and go some distance in making up for the earlier ones.

Barbour, David and Raleigh, Richard. Shadows Bend. New York: Ace Books. 2000. (Paper)
Rating: 3.5 • Buy from Amazon

This novel has a fascinating premise: "On a dark and stormy night, many years ago, two struggling writers named H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard set off on a cross-country mission to save the world--from the evil god Cthulhu. . ." This alone should be enough to make any Mythos fan pick it up.

Writing a Mythos story in which Lovecraft and Mythos fiction exist yet Mythos entities still have power is difficult (and rarely successful); writing one in which Lovecraft is a character even more so. This book succeeds relatively well, however; the characterizations of Lovecraft, Howard, and other circle members such as Clark Ashton Smith are extremely entertaining. The personality differences between Lovecraft and Howard alone make for some great amusement. The book also sustains some great, high-tension sequences. In the end, though, there are several holes in the plot and some things which just don't make sense. Still, it's a wild and enjoyable ride.

Bloch, Robert (Ed. Robert M. Price). The Mysteries of the Worm. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1993. (Paper)
Rating: 3.5 • Buy from Amazon

Although many people don't realize it, much of Robert Bloch's (author of Psycho) early writing involved Cthulhu and similar beings. This collection reprints a nice selection of these stories. The stories are well-written, especially considering the age of the author; they are enjoyable reading even without considering Lovecraft's and Bloch's close relationship. Bloch employs a variety of settings in these stories, but two are notable. The first is Egypt; Bloch uses evocative Egyptian images to give several of his stories a gripping power. The second is Lovecraft's Providence. In his usually well-written introduction and notes, Robert Price lets us in on some of the in-jokes of the Lovecraft circle. In one of the stories reprinted in this volume, "The Shambler from the Stars," Bloch kills the Old Man of Providence off. Lovecraft returns the favor in his "The Haunter of the Dark" (not included), and Bloch sends a friend to investigate in "The Shadow from the Steeple."

Chambers, Robert W. (Ed. S.T. Joshi). The Yellow Sign and Other Stories. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 2000. (Paper)
Rating: 3.5 • Buy from Amazon

In "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft wrote that Chambers' The King in Yellow "really achieves notable heights of cosmic fear." Chambers' writing often suffers from stereotyped characters, predictable plots, and many affectations, both of the era (1890s-1915) and unique to Chambers, yet it can also achieve at times just the right mood of weirdness. This anthology collects selected stories from five of Chambers' books and reprints two others completely. The stories from The King in Yellow not only have their fine moments of weirdness and horror; they are also extremely interesting to the Mythos devotee because of their connections to later works, including Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness" and Derleth's Hastur stories. Some of the passages in The Mystery of Choice are hauntingly beautiful. Much of this fiction is not worth reading in and of itself, but as part of the milieu from which Lovecraft's and others' writings drew are rewarding nonetheless. At other times, Chambers' stories are so predictable as to be entertaining--chewing gum for the brain. For someone deeply interested in the Mythos, this book is a good choice; others should steer clear.

Aniolowski, Scott David. Made In Goatswood: A Celebration of Ramsey Campbell. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. 1996. (Paper)
Rating: 3 • Buy from Amazon

This book tries too hard. The subtitle gives away what it is: "A Celebration of Ramsey Campbell." The stories in this volume are by some very talented authors, authors who have achieved much in the Mythos to date. However, here there is too much of an attempt to mimic Ramsey Campbell. It's done effectively, without doubt; his settings and his tone are reproduced well. However, that tone on the whol is not very appealing, and this effort turns many of the stories two-dimensional. The reader loses out because of it. Several of the stories rise above this, however. "Free the Old Ones" is absolutely engrossing, marked by humor as well as drama. "The Beard of Byatis" is a fine entry. Ramsey Campbell's own entry "The Horror under Warrendown" is original and effective. Above all, though, "The Music of the Spheres" captures that sense of cosmic horror and alienation from the universe which made Lovecraft's fiction special in the first place. Henderson is a first-rate Mythos writer. Despite the book's flaws, there is much food for the imagination here. Not only is this relatively good reading, it could also form the basis for a wonderful role-playing campaign set in the Severn Valley. Hopefully, some inventive groups will try it out.

Tynes, John. Delta Green: The Rules of Engagement. Seattle, WA: Armitage House. 2000. (Paper)
Rating: 3 • Buy from Amazon

This novel takes off where Delta Green: Alien Intelligence left off, and in fact involves a number of characters from different authors' stories in that volume. Agent Shasta has gone missing and a cell of the government conspiracy Delta Green is activated to find out what happened. Their investigation takes them to a mysterious community in Tennessee, a medical research center in the DC suburbs, and the headquarters of an ominous organization in Puerto Rico.

The novel has several things to recommend it; the dialogue is entertaining, much of it witty comebacks or catchphrases that one wishes one could come up with. Overall, the plot builds nicely. On the other hand, the overwhelming opinion one is left with (perhaps intentionally) is that these are the most amateurish conspirators to ever drive the Beltway, and if they're all that stands between us and malignant alien forces, one might as well start brushing up on the pronunciation of "Ia! Cthulhu ftagn!" All in all, it's tough to call this a Mythos book. The plot is far more about conspiracy than cosmic forces, and much of the Mythos connection is not explicit, nor hinted at, but simply assumed. The premise and the plot could have been developed in a far more suspenseful, cosmic way.

Derleth, August. The Lurker at the Threshold. New York: Carroll and Graf. 1988. (Paper)
Rating: 2.5 • Buy from Amazon

This book is another one of Derleth's "posthumous collaborations" with Lovecraft. The only evidence of Lovecraft's hand immediately detectable is in a few corrupted quotes from the Necronomicon and a description of a bas-relief. The story is entirely Derleth's--which makes Carroll and Graf's cover extremely misleading. This novel is one of Derleth's better efforts. Admittedly, this novel is not high-class cuisine; it's junk food. It's easily to consume, its contents are standard fare, but it hits the spot from time to time.

Mitchell, D.W. (Ed.). The Starry Wisdom. : Creation Publishing Group. 1995. (Paper)
Rating: 1.5 • Buy from Amazon

This book is not for every reader. It contains some very graphic violent and sexual content. Many readers will find most of its contents disturbing; That's not to say that readers will find nothing of interest here. John Coulhart's graphical version of "The Call of Cthulhu" is breathtaking. Robert Price's "A Thousand Young" fits fully and truly within the Lovecraftian tradition, as does Brian Lumley's "The Night the Sea-Maid Went Down." Alan Moore's "The Courtyard" is chilling and graphic, but creates a true sense of horror--it doesn't rely on the visceral shock that the lesser tales of this volume do, though that shock is there. D.M. Mitchell's capstone story is also excellent, creating an end-of-the-world feeling. The story also interlocks with the contents of the anthology well, tying plotlines together; thus it is an excellent ending for the book.

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