Review: Black Wings of Cthulhu IV: Seventeen Tales of Lovecraftian Horror

black-wings-of-cthulhu 4Edited by S.T. Joshi

Titan, out now

A range of Lovecraftian Tales.

H.P. Lovecraft might be long gone in person, but stories based on or around the mythos he created are perennially popular, as evidenced by the seventeen stories contained in this, S.T. Joshi’s fourth anthology of such tales.

Joshi himself is an authority on Lovecraft, and has edited definitive restored editions of the author’s work, as well as writing such critical studies as The Modern Weird Tale and the biography H.P. Lovecraft: A Life (Stoker Award winner for Best Non-Fiction).

As Joshi himself states in his introduction to this anthology, a wide range of Lovecraft’s themes are explored here. A number of stories deal with the idea of cosmic exploration, not just in terms of space but of time and dimension. Stories such as Fred Chappell’s ‘Artifact’, Donald Tyson’s ‘The Wall of Asshur-sin’ and Lois Grech’s ‘Cult of the Dead’, for example. The stand-out for me from these, however, is Tyson’s ‘The Wallof Asshur-sin’, where an ageing explorer returns to the scene of his father’s greatest discovery, and in so doing uncovers the source of his nightmares over the years since then.

There are stories that deal with what would happen should ‘others’ – gods or creatures from other dimensions or galaxies – overwhelm the earth and take over. Thus we have Caitlin R. Kiernan’s excellent ‘Black Ships Seen South of Heaven’, the late Melanie Tem’s ‘Trophy’ and Cody Goodfellow’s ‘Broken Sleep’.

There are even poems here, including a selection of these from the aptly named Charles Lovecraft – an author who was so taken by Lovecraft’s fiction and themes that he changed his name legally.

Lastly, there are a number of stories that explore the places beloved of Lovecraftian fiction – and these make up some of my favourites in the anthology. W.H. Pugmire’s ‘Half Lost in Shadow’ is one of these, as is Jason V. Brock’s ‘The Dark Sea Within.’

In short, this anthology will appeal most to fans of Lovecraft or of the mythos he created – and there is something for those who love each aspect of Lovecraft’s fiction, as detailed above. Black Wings of Cthulhu IV is a worthy addition to the series, and one I would heartily recommend.

Verdict: A wide-ranging collection of stories that explore the Lovecraftian mythos. 8/10

Marie O’Regan

 

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