Review: ‘Children of Lovecraft’ edited by Ellen Datlow

Children of Lovecraft edited by Ellen Datlow
Dark Horse Books (September 2016)
384 pages; $12.81 paperback; $10.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over thirty years.  She has won numerous awards for her work and is certainly one of the best in the business. As a result, she attracts some of the best writers when she puts together a new project, and Children of Lovecraft is a fine example of this effect.

H.P. Lovecraft is not without his detractors, for numerous reasons, but love him or despise him, Lovecraft was, without a doubt, one of the most influential horror writers of all time. Go anywhere where writers of horror have congregated and sooner or later, you’ll hear his name or talk of his work or see Cthulhu on a t-shirt.

“Nesters” by Siobhan Carroll—As if life on the plains wasn’t tough enough, the Mackays are called upon by two guide two men from the government to a neighbor’s property where a shooting star seems to have crashed. Off to a great start.

“Little Ease” by Gemma Files—Ginevra Cochrane works under the table for a shifty exterminator, a scary proposition from the start. Her current job is at number 33, a run-down tenement. What she finds behind the walls…well, let’s just say eating lunch while reading this one may not have been the best idea I ever had. One of the best shorts I’ve read this year.

“Eternal Troutland” by Stephen Graham Jones—There are creatures out there we can’t even guess at. Surreal, esoteric, and entertaining.

The Supplement” by John Langan—A book of blank pages, an amazing power, but it comes with a cost. I was deeply moved by this story and, regardless of the cost, I’d love to own this book.

“Mortensen’s Muse” by Orrin Grey—A young ingenue moves to Los Angeles to become an actress. A talented photographer with an eye for the grotesque follows her to the City of Dreams. If H.P. Lovecraft had written for The Twilight Zone, this could have been the story he would have written.

“Oblivion Mode” by Laird Barron—Talking vampire bats and other animals are just the beginning. When Karl Lochinvar falls into a pit, things really get crazy. If H.P. Lovecraft and Douglas Adams had a love child, his name would be Laird Barron and he might be writing stories like this.

“Mr. Doornail” by Maria Dahvana Headley—What would an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired anthology be without tentacles? Sharing a house with a man whose heart you’ve fed to a monster was nothing nice.  Another great read in a book where all of the stories are really good.

“The Secrets of Insects” by Richard Kadrey—Another solid tale, this one about a serial killer who would drill holes in his victim’s heads and then allow insects to crawl inside.

“Excerpts for An Eschatology Quadrille by Caitlin R Kiernan—An amazing and visceral story involving an ancient jade statuette. Just when you think it can’t get any worse…it gets much worse.

“Jules and Richard” by David Nickle—One of my favorite stories in an anthology where there are no weak links. It’s all a matter of taste. This one starts out innocently enough, but just grew darker and darker as the story progressed.

“Glasses” by Brian Evenson—The shortest story in the collection, about a woman who picks up a pair of biofocals (sic) when her new reading glasses break.

“When the Stitches Come Undone” by A.C. Wise—Darkness, cannibals, and more. Ultimately a story of sacrifice.

“On These Blackened Shores of Time” by Brian Hodge—Great story with a terrific opening line: I saw it happen, watched the street open up and swallow my son whole.

“Bright Crown of Joy” by Livia Llewellyn—The anthology ends with a superb story of a world that has moved on.

You don’t need to be a fan of H.P. Lovecraft to enjoy the quality storytelling in this book. If you are, though, you might enjoy it even more.

Leave a Reply