Read Letters to Lovecraft by Jesse Bullington Brian Evenson Gemma Files Jeffrey Ford Tim Lebbon Online


Eighteen Whispers to the Darkness‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’So begins H. P. Lovecraft’s essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” arguably the most important analysis of horror ever written. Yet while hordes of writers have created works based on Lovecraft’s fiction, never beforeEighteen Whispers to the Darkness‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’So begins H. P. Lovecraft’s essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” arguably the most important analysis of horror ever written. Yet while hordes of writers have created works based on Lovecraft’s fiction, never before has an anthology taken its inspiration directly from the literary manifesto behind his entire mythos…until now. Like cultists poring over a forbidden tome, eighteen modern masters of horror have gathered here to engage with Lovecraft’s treatise. Rather than responding with articles of their own, these authors have written new short stories inspired by intriguing quotes from the essay, offering their own whispers to the darkness. They tell of monsters and madmen, of our strange past and our weirder future, of terrors stalking the winter woods, the broiling desert, and eeriest of all, our bustling cities, our family homes.Corresponding with the darkness are:Kirsten ALENE • David Yale ARDANUY • ASAMATSU Ken • Nadia BULKIN • Chesya BURKE • Brian EVENSON •Gemma FILES • Jeffrey FORD • Orrin GREY •Stephen Graham JONES • Robin D. LAWS • Tim LEBBON •Livia LLEWELLYN • Nick MAMATAS • Cameron PIERCE • Angela SLATTER • Molly TANZER • Paul TREMBLAY...

Title : Letters to Lovecraft
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781908983107
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 280 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Letters to Lovecraft Reviews

  • Orrin Grey
    2019-05-04 04:23

    Full disclosure: This book contains my story "Lovecrafting" and it was edited by my good friend Jesse Bullington.Starting with a particularly clever logline--all of the contributors were asked to read H.P. Lovecraft's seminal essay on the genre, "Supernatural Horror in Literature," pick a passage, and write an original story in response--Jesse has assembled one of the most creative anthologies to come out of the huge boom in Lovecraft-themed anthos. The stories in Letters to Lovecraft are all over the map, both in style and theme and in their connection to Lovecraft. Some are overt, some not so much, and some are all the way over into, say, werewolf country. What ties the stories together is that they are almost uniformly smart and well-written (and then there's mine), with particular favorites coming from Livia Llewellyn, Gemma Files, and Robin D. Laws.

  • Jonathan Hicks
    2019-05-03 00:44

    I’m a Lovecraft fan. I was introduced to his worlds through the tabletop roleplaying game ‘Call of Cthulhu’ way back in the 1980s, and I got into his work soon after. I’m a huge fan of his Mythos, especially because it doesn’t directly deal with the physical, blood-spattered type of horror that seems to permeate popular culture these days. It’s horrific in the sense that it utilises the fear of the unknown and that sense of hopelessness that gives you the chills, as if everything is out of your control and that reality isn’t what it seems. That’s what makes his work appeal to me; Lovecraft never needed to talk about flailing entrails, torture or screaming cheerleaders being dragged to a very visual fate. He hinted at what was in the darkness, which was terrifying in itself, so on those occasions when the monsters are revealed the terror is multiplied.Lovecraft wrote essays about the nature of horror and that’s what this book hooks on to. Eighteen authors have all taken snippets from Lovecraft’s writings and created their own short stories based on these quotes. Although not all are typically Lovecraftian they do latch on to that sense of terror and fear that can only really be felt when you do not fully understand what it is that you are terrified of.I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the stories but once I got past the opening two stories, ‘Past Reno’ and ‘Only Unity Saves The Damned’, I got a feel as to what the book was going to offer; a lot of psychological horror. In fact, the second story ‘Only Unity Saves The Damned’ by Nadia Bulkin, which is my favourite story in the collection, captures that perfectly and intertwines what I‘d call an almost Edgar Allen Poe feeling of darkness (which is strange, as the book is Lovecraft-inspired) with modern day found-footage mockumentaries and video hoaxes. It’s a wonderful - if wonderful is the right word - tale of being trapped in a small town and the dispossessed trying to carve their own sense of identity. If I had to choose a story that captures the mood and atmosphere the anthology was going for then I’d have to say that this was it. The final two pages still make me shudder, truth be told.‘The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’This is incredibly true and as one of Lovecraft’s most famous quotes it permeates every one of the stories in this collection, regardless of the part of the essay that the author chose.The book has an informative introduction by editor Jesse Bullington talking about Lovecraft’s work, his less-than-acceptable views on the world, his legacy and how it is perceived today and his essay ‘Supernatural Horror In Literature’, the work from which the authors selected their passages and wrote their stories. I’m sure that reading his essays would cast more light on the themes and drives of the stories but each entry has an introduction that details the selected passage and a short note from the author explaining why they chose that particular piece and how they used it to mould their story. This is more than enough to be going on with and gives you all the framework you need to understand and appreciate the work.Letters to Lovecraft is a very good book. There isn’t really a bad story in the collection though they do vary in quality – I can’t say that I really disliked any of the chosen stories – and while some of the stories might not link directly to the Mythos it’s not the cosmic horrors that exploded from Lovecraft’s mind that are the driving force behind these stories, but the theme of unknown horror that he tried to explain in his essay. To that end, each of the authors have contributed excellent stories and it’s more than worth the attention of both Lovecraft and general horror fansLetters to Lovecraft is available on the 1st December 2014 and is recommended reading on these cold, lonely winter nights.

  • Guy Haley
    2019-04-25 03:33

    If your skin crawls at Lovecraft pastiche or sub-par mythos shenanigans, don't be put off this book. The premise is intelligent - to engage with Lovecraft through his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature". The eighteen authors picked a quote, and wrote a story inspired by it. The results are variable, and the introduction could certainly have been pithier. But although non-Euclidean geometries and Deep Ones raise their fish-eyed heads, refreshingly the majority of the stories are non-mythos, and all are fiction of the better sort. Chesya Burke's "The Horror at Castle of The Cumbernauld" is most affecting. This tale of gross injustice shocks with its real-world horror, and is also genuinely "weird".In fact, Burke's story is so effective it brings into stark focus the problem with modern horror: few of these stories are horrifying, frightening, or even that weird. Lovecraft's own fiction is so chilling because its wellspring was the real (if repugnantly erroneous) terror he felt for the other. Burke's story works because it too is powered by strong emotion - she is an African-American writer directly engaging with the terrible engine of Lovecraft's creativity.Unlike in H.P.'s time, modern life is too lacking in pain, madness, and fear to inspire terrifying literature. Most of us have enough to eat, and spare pennies to spend on Cthulhu plushies. Letters to Lovecraft reflects that.

  • Aksel Dadswell
    2019-05-17 00:22

    A fantastic “Lovecraftian” anthology that pays its debt to the father of cosmic horror with a really innovative and unexpected premise. Each story is its author's response to a quote of their choosing from Lovecraft's seminal essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" that speaks to them in some way or sparks an idea or an argument. This makes for some incredible stories that cover a much broader range of ideas and tones than the usual Lovecraft-inspired anthology. The subtly skin-crawling "Past Reno," "_____" and "The Lonely Wood" by Brian Evenson, Paul Tremblay and Tim Lebbon respectively, are both minor works of genius, crafting terror (and maximum impact) from only the slightest displacement of reality. Uncertainty creeps through every line, building and building to their incredible denouement's of undiluted dread.Nadia Bulkin's "Only Unity Saves the Damned" is a wonderful ghost story and an even better study of the claustrophobia of small-town life. "Allochthon" is another example of Livia Llewellyn's sensuous, liquid prose telling a mind-melting story of displacement and horror in a world both alien and scarily familiar. Stephen Graham Jones tears up a ripping werewolf yarn in "Doc's Story" that throws authentic, no-frills characters in with a beautifully knotted narrative. Cameron Pierce's "Help Me" is a sharp bite of a story that will stick in your skin long after you've read it. It made me glad that I don't fish."Glimmer in the Darkness" by Asamatsu Ken (translated by Raechel Dumas) uses Lovecraft himself in a dialogue-driven story that's tense, unsettling and original.In "The Order of the Haunted Wood," Jeffrey Ford takes a subversive and hilarious approach to Lovecraft's idea of a centuries-old cult.Angela Slatter's "Only the Dead and the Moonstruck" feels like a suburban fairytale, balancing mundane domesticity with a glistening, sleek horror element. "That Place" by Gemma Files reminded me a little of the recent (and excellent) TV series, Stranger Things, although it's less nostalgic and much darker. Her prose is everything; clever, understated, poetic when it needs to be. One of the highlights of the anthology.Chesya Burke's "The Horror at the Castle of the Cumberland" addresses Lovecraft's issues with race in a story where humanity is the real horror. Orrin Grey plays with form and self-awareness in his usual rampantly entertaining and innovative way in "Lovecrafting," a story that's as structurally engaging it is unsettling, with an ending all the more effective for its restraint."One Last Meal, Before the End" by David Yale Ardanuy is both a bloodthirsty take on the Wendigo myth in colonial America, and a smart response to Lovecraft's white-washed views of Native American myths.Kirsten Alene's "There Has Been a Fire" is a dreamlike story with very tactile, raw imagery that reads as much like poetry as it does prose. Don't even try to imagine what to expect in "The Trees" by Robin D Laws, which is utterly weird and quite disturbing and left me feeling like I needed a scalding shower at the end of it.Molly Tanzer's "Food From the Clouds" is perhaps my favourite of the lot, a typically fizzing Tanzer-esque adventure that's part romp, part immaculate world-building, all pleasure. Her use of the monstrous is brilliant and restrained. Her work here insettles, beguiles, and breaks the heart. She evokes a post-'event' London with so much pleasurable ease that the setting feels like it's bleeding off the page. Finally, Nick Mamatas pulls the rug out from under us in "The Semi-Finished Basement" in an incredibly clever and lingering way. I found it bleakly funny in a kind of matter-of-fact way that's often hard to pull off, but Mamatas' skill with tone, and his mastery at both character interactions and teasing out the Lovecraft references makes for the perfect gut-punch to round off the anthology.Jesse Bullington has put together a lingering and versatile bunch of stories here in what is one of the better Lovecraft-inspired anthologies I've ever read. An original premise backed up by a hugely entertaining body of work, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.

  • Jonathan
    2019-05-12 07:34

    Very strong Lovecraft related anthology. The premise is that the stories are inspired by passages from Lovecraft's essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature." The authors work with this very well and it adds a valuable thread through the collection.

  • Mark
    2019-05-13 05:25

    So the premise is this: Letters to Lovecraft is eighteen tales, from a number of authors in a variety of styles, that approach Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s work through his essay, ‘Supernatural Horror in Literature.’ By doing so, the writers and its editor hope to ‘compile a collection of responses to Lovecraft’s ethos, in the form of original fiction.’ (page 7).As you might therefore expect, the results are diverse.Jesse’s Introduction is a great start to the book. It summarises the point of the anthology (quoted above) as well as pointing out for the uninitiated what the attraction of Lovecraft’s writing was, even whilst acknowledging that some aspects of the man’s personality were not what we would like. It manages that tricky job of being both erudite and yet accessible, of being reasoned and balanced when others might descend into outrage or obsequious fawning.Of the stories, I most liked Tim Lebbon’s The Lonely Wood, which created a lovely ambience of creeping menace in a great setting from the perspective of an atheist in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London whilst reading it. Nadia Bulkin’s tale (Only Unity Saves the Damned) is a contemporary tale of elemental Horror that works well. Livia Llewellyn’s Allochthon was a tale showing the importance of landscape in horror and the always-present land, which I really appreciated. Stephen Graham Jones’ tale (Doc’s Tale) is a werewolf story – it says so in its first line! – which is not entirely part of HPL’s remit. It was also wryly humorous, something Lovecraft’s not usually known for. Reading rather like an episode of The Addams Family, its wry humour lightened the mood of the collection enormously.I also quite liked Orrin Grey’s and Asamatsu Ken’s efforts, whereby they break the literary wall and use Lovecraft as a character in their stories. As Jesse points out in the Introduction, this could be a recipe for disaster, yet both authors, both authors new to me, seem to have managed it. In particular Asamatu’s Glimmer in the Darkness, a combination of Lovecraft and the UFO phenomenon was an inspired one. Orrin Grey’s Lovecrafting is written mainly in film script format, something that will pretty much have been after ol’ Howard’s time. It made me wonder what HPL would have made of movies, especially those inspired by his written work.Less successful for me were Paul Tremblay’s enigmatically titled ‘_________’, which looks at a horror that is familial in origin. This starts well and has a lot of aspects that I liked but fell apart a little at the end. Jeffrey Ford’s tale of cult groups, The Order of the Haunted Wood was, as I rather expected, clever, but in the end said little to me. Chesya Burke’s The Horror at the Castle of the Cumberland bravely tackles race issues as an allegory in society for ‘The Other’, but seemed to hammer its valid point home rather inelegantly for me.Nevertheless, for all my minor gripes, I liked the range of ideas at play here, even when they didn’t all quite work for me. In summary, this is an unusual anthology worthy of your attention. There is a lot of Lovecraftian ephemera out there and sometimes it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Letters to Lovecraft strikes me as an intelligent attempt to do something different and as such should be applauded.It is the first time that I have come across Stone Skin Press, but based on the evidence presented here, it is not going to be my last.

  • Jenna
    2019-05-19 01:43

    Excerpted from my blog ( front, I must say Lovecraft's "Supernatural Horror in Literature" has been a touchstone for me in academic papers and in conversations about the importance and impact of horror literature for many years. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I was exceedingly excited to get my hands on an Advance Review Copy of this collection. (I pursued it before I came down with what would be a 4 week viral ordeal, with ripple effects I'm still feeling more than 4 months later.)I cannot say it half so well as Publishers Weekly or SFF World -- but I agree wholeheartedly with them that this collection is something different in the best of ways.Each author selects a particular passage from Lovecraft's essay and introduces their story with a brief explanation of their relationship with that passage. This made the collection all the more enticing for me, as a reader and student of academia. It is often a valuable insight to hear the author's own voice when engaging with works that are part of a conversation, such as the conversation created between these tales and Lovecraft's essay.The format also creates a binding thread that runs through the anthology, making every story fit. There isn't a slacker or outlier in the bunch. I was hypnotized and drawn into each story through not only the writer's craft, but the interaction between Lovecraft's essay and the author's view of it.This anthology is the sweet spot between academic engagement and idolic entertainment.Of the entire collection, many stories stuck with me; to pick a favorite would be an impossible task. Would I choose Grey's dabbling in using Lovecraft as a character, Jones' lycanthropic romp, or Files' exploration of things hidden in childhood? (I could honestly list EVERY author's name here and give a reason for their story to be a favorite...) But, at the end of the day, one story has stayed with me over the months - even though I've skipped it on re-reads of the collection because it creeped me out so much - and that is Nadia Bulkin's "Only Unity Saves the Damned".

  • Teodor
    2019-05-10 06:33

    Good snapshot of the state of weird fiction today (makes for a welcome lightweight companion piece to the Kelley/Barron Year's Best Weird FIction Vol. 1) but mainly an interesting experiment in the 'anxiety of influence' as it pertains to the increasingly ubiquitous and divisive figure of HP Lovecraft. It's refreshing to see a Lovecraft anthology with a specific angle to it, which makes for a nice change from the dozens upon dozens of pastiche volumes that are piling up each year. Making its contributors engage with Lovecraft's Supernatural Horror in Literature - a manifesto of sorts for weird fiction - means that we get to witness contemporary authors wrestle with Lovecraft's legacy first-hand - 'live', and this is exciting in and of itself, and an added bonus is the authors' introductory notes to each story, explaining why they chose the particular passage from the essay in question. Chesya Burke's 'The Horror at the Castle of the Cumberland' addresses Lovecraft's racism unflinchingly - using the full extent of her negative capability to embody a mercilessly prejudiced mindset. This lends nuance to an ongoing discussion of Lovecraft's problematic worldview - which is constantly being addressed on various media but which gains emotional depth through fiction.

  • Geoff
    2019-04-27 07:47

    This wasn't exactly what I was expecting, which is my fault because I didn't read the blurb properly. I was expecting some fun modern pastiches of Lovecraft's work, and further tales relating to his 'Cthulhu Mythos'. What I got was a lot of original weird fiction derived from themes in his famous essay on Supernatural Horror in Literature. I think on balance I'd have preferred the pastiche.There are some decent stories here - the standout for me was 'Glimmer in the Darkness' by Asamatsu Ken (a writer whose work I will seek out in future). This and 'Food From the Clouds' by Molly Tanzer were the only tales that really captured the uncanny feeling of Lovecraft's work. This wasn't a requirement of the anthology but it happens to be what I was looking for, so I rate these two highly. Most of the stories are serviceable but not that memorable, and 'There Has Been a Fire' by Kirsten Alene was just impenetrable.A good effort overall, but not a must-read for Lovecraft fans.

  • Alan
    2019-05-07 05:24

    I enjoyed it, but unfortunately not as much as I'd hoped. It was a mixed bag, as anthologies so often are. Some stories I really enjoyed and a few I skimmed for the sake of moving along. I entered fully aware that these would not all necessarily be Lovecraftian stories, rather stories as responses to Lovecraft's essay Supernatural Horror in Literature. Nevertheless I expected more. But there are a few, such as Past Reno, that I will definitely read again with pleasure.

  • Haley Nixt
    2019-04-28 00:29

    This was a very diverse collection of short stories that I really enjoyed reading. I haven't gotten around to reading Lovecraft yet (he's on my list!), but it was very interesting to seen 18 different authors write 18 very different stories all based on just one essay that Lovecraft wrote, an essay that the editor Jesse Bullington felt summed up the genre well. Gemma Files' "That Place", Robin D. Laws' "The Trees", and Molly Tanzer's "Food from the Clouds" were three pieces that really stuck with me in terms of world-building, and Nadia Bulkin's "Only Unity Saves the Damned" had great character building for such a limited word count. None of the stories are particularly difficult in terms of technicality, and they're all pretty easy reads. Overall, I read the book in about three hours and, while the quality of the stories vary a bit, there were only a handful of stories that I didn't really care for.

  • K.Rose
    2019-05-04 07:37

    Most of the stories in this collection were excellent. The addition of the sections of Lovecraft's essay at the beginning of each story with which it connected plus that particular story's author's interpretation and explanation of why they chose to address that section of the essay was a pretty awesome touch. I'd say out of the 18 stories in this collection there were only really two for which I didn't really care.

  • James Eckman
    2019-04-27 01:22

    It's due back at the library and I guess I'm not in a cosmic horror mood. Read the first few stories and they were very good, not just a collection if hackwork so maybe when I feel like a horror read I will pick it up again.