Oh boy. I really thought I was going to love this book, but it just didn’t work for me at all. Being a total Stephen King addict, I’ve had cause over the past few years to look up certain Lovecraft stories on Uncle Steve’s recommendation, and have always been intrigued. I expected the bizarre tales of creeping horrors to be right up my street, and decided to buy the audio version, having fond memories of dark winter walks accompanied by King’s tales.
Perhaps part of the blame is my own, and I’ll allow that I might have enjoyed these stories more had I been reading rather than listening to them. The assorted narrators were all varying degrees of capable and engaging, but my listening time is now much more oriented around household chores than long absorbing walks. As such, these tales often sunk into background noise, and significant segments would pass without my having any real recollection of the events relayed. It’s not that I was purposefully ignoring it (except a little, towards the end, willing it to finish and unwilling to abandon it as a bad job having already sunk so many hours into it). More, the tales are almost uniformly solid first-person narration, interspersed with infrequent dialogue, rambling descriptions, frequent fainting fits, and largely interchangeable monsters.
The audio features no pause between stories – one will end and the next begin within the space of a breath, without even a second to digest and turn over the tale just told. As a result of this, from time to time I found myself turning to Wikipedia to check summaries of what I’d just heard, which should have been a sure sign I was doomed in persevering.
There were a few stand-outs that I did enjoy, with “The Whisperer in Darkness” being the best of the bunch. “The Dunwich Horror” made for an enjoyable listen, and I found many of the shorter stories, such as “Dagon”, “In the Vault”, “The Outsider”, “Cool Air”, “The Haunter of the Dark” and “The Thing on the Doorstep” decent ways to pass the time. The only one I flat-out could not finish for fear of being bored to death was “The Shadow Out of Time”.
Clearly, these stories have stood the test of time and are widely enjoyed, but for me, it’s a firm pass on Lovecraft.