I had read The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories earlier this year and absolutely loved it – I immediately went out and bought the two other Penguin collected editions of Lovecraft’s work, and only just got to reading The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories.
This edition has, as the others do, several short stories and longer novellas written by Lovecraft. It’s also annotated extensively, and includes suggestions for further reading, including both primary and secondary sources. The only regret I have is that those notes are end notes rather than footnotes, which makes flipping back and forth kind of tedious. However, the additional information in the end notes was absolutely worth it. I loved being able to read when Lovecraft wrote a story, what inspired it, why he went with particular details and further elaborations on why those details were important.
Included stories, stars for favourites: The Tomb, Beyond the Wall of Sleep, The White Ship, The Temple, The Quest of Iranon, The Music of Erich Zann*, Under the Pyramids, Pickman’s Model*, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward*, The Dunwich Horror*, At the Mountains of Madness*, and The Thing On the Doorstep.
As you can see, I actually preferred most of the longer novellas to the short stories. Under the Pyramids was a delight because it was essentially Lovecraft writing Harry Houdini fanfiction, and the backstory behind that is actually fascinating. The Music of Erich Zann was my favourite of the shorter stories, although Pickman’s Model came at a close second. The novellas – The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dunwich Horror, and At the Mountains of Madness – were so engrossing. Once I got to the second half of the book, I practically flew through. CDW is the longest of Lovecraft’s works but I found that the exposition really helped draw the reader in. I’ve never felt such sympathy for a character in a horror story before, and it was truly full of horror. The Dunwich Horror was extremely atmospheric and in fact relied on what the characters and reader didn’t actually see for its main effect. This was also echoed in At the Mountains of Madness – the beginning of that story was quite slow for me but once it went through to where certain discoveries were made, I was drawn in. I loved this one as well for the way it expanded upon previously very brief descriptions of the Old Ones and the Outside; this novella went into detail on the history of that group of fantastical and horrifying beings, and that history was fascinating in its own right. The world building throughout Lovecraft’s stories is fantastic.
I haven’t left too many details in my review because I wouldn’t want to give anything away; Lovecraft is truly a master storyteller and his works should be experienced by reading in full rather than spoilers in a review. I honestly would recommend his work to anyone, but would start off with The Call of Cthulhu and then read this volume, as there are some references here to works which appear in that volume.