As you may have gathered I am a huge fan of the macabre. The horror genre is my utmost favourite in all mediums. While I can, and have been known to write fiction which is uplifting, action-packed, or romantic, horror is where I feel most at home.
Of course, you must be a reader to be a writer[i] and I am an avid reader of the horror genre. I love the supernatural, the paranormal, unsolved mysteries, unnatural laws, and the foibles of humankind. In this sense, I feel there is only one author who stands up to meet all these criteria and that is H.P Lovecraft.
His is the story of a genius who remained unrecognised in his time. While he did manage to sell and publish stories during his lifetime, it wasn’t enough to keep him afloat. He relied on his inheritance, which upon his death at the age of 46, had been slowly ground to nothing.
His stories are now in the public domain and have influenced writers such as Stephen King to J.C Lynch. (Self-shout out and no I’m not sorry!)
The criteria for this list is as follows: It must be a short story. It must be written solely by Lovecraft. It must be published before his death.
I digress, so without further ado I present to you my top 5 favourite HP Lovecraft short stories.
- “The Colour Out Of Space.” Written 1927, Published 1927.
This fantastic horror story documents the experience of a family, living in the hills outside of Arkham after their farm is polluted by a meteorite from space. Futile attempts to study the meteorite by local scientists results in the matter sinking into obscurity. Years later a surveyor is unnerved by the land, prompting a local to tell him the tragic story of the Gardner family.
- “The Cats Of Ultar.” Written 1920, Published 1920.
Set in Lovecraft’s dreamworld, this simple story tells the tale of a caravan passing through Ultar. A young boy’s kitten is killed by a local couple who are known to despise cats. The young boy, distraught at this discovery, casts his eyes to the heavens and mutters a curse upon the couple. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but in Ultar to this day, all cats are revered.
- “Pickman’s Model.” Written 1926, Published 1927.
The narrator’s eccentric artist friend Pickman, known for painting harrowing scenes, invites him over to see the works rejected by the gallerys. The daunting scenes of creatures unknown to man causes disquiet in the narrator, however, he takes solace in knowing the beasts portrayed, are nothing more than fiction from the mind of his friend.
- “The Outsider.” Written 1921, Published 1926.
Set in a decrepit castle, deep in the woods, our narrator does not identify themselves in anyway. They lived in this castle all their lives, and as far back as they remember they’ve never seen the sky. One day, frustration gets the best of them, and they make a perilous journey. Climbing to the top of the tallest tower they finally see the outside world.
- “The Doom That Came To Sarnath.” Written 1919, Published 1920.
My favourite story of Lovecraft’s is once again set in his auspicious dreamworld. It documents the history of the great city of Sarnath, the shining jewel of civilisation. They become arrogant, conquering the neighbouring city of Ib, simply because they do not like the creatures which inhabit it. They take the city’s stone idol of ‘Bokrug The Water Lizard’, and reign on high for a 1000 years. However as the story goes, doom must play its part in the city of Sarnath.
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[i] King, Stephen. 2000. “On Writing: A Memoire of the Craft.” Scribner. New York City.