Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Lurking Fear by H.P. Lovecraft

The Lurking Fear
by H.P. Lovecraft

Our Nameless Narrator in this short story is perhaps an ancestor of Fox Mulder, a paranormal investigator before the term paranormal was even coined. He doesn't do it for fame, and he doesn't do it for money. Instead, he does it all in the name of obsession.

In this instance, the obsession leads our narrator to investigate an old secluded house that some have said to be haunted, the apex of a series of bizarre mutilation murders. He assembles a team to assist in the investigation, and when they're dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, well, he just assembles another one.

This isn't the best of Lovecraft's work, nor is it the most original. It shares its serial format with the previous great work "Herbert West: Reanimator" (doing away, thankfully, with the reiteration of the previous chapter at the beginning of each new one), but it takes itself much more seriously--which is in step with the majority of the author's work. It is partly a haunted house tale, and partly a forerunner of Tremors, which may sound quite novel, but the surprise ending will come as no surprise to anyone who has read Lovecraft's own "Beast in the Cave" and "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family", of which this tale is relatively derivative. If you haven't read those stories, and you're going into this one fresh, you may have an enthusiasm for "The Lurking Fear" that I just can't quite muster.

It seems almost as if Lovecraft was unhappy with these earlier pieces, and so pilfered the aspects that he thought could be reworked into something usable. Regardless of this, it remains a very well-written (perhaps over-written) story with a few chilling scenes, and you could do much worse if looking for a suitable jumping-on point.



  1. This is actually one of my favorites of Lovecraft's tales. I don't know, call me antiquarian, but I just love his archaic language and lurid descriptions. A house full of ground-dwelling cannibals? What's not to loathe?

  2. Like so many of H. P. Lovecraft's "minor works," this one has depths of interest. The atmosphere is thick, and some of the writing is lurid. "Shrieking, slithering, torrential shadows of red vicous madness chasing one another through endless, ensanguined corridors of purple fulguous sky..." It's as if E'ch-Pi-El were trying like mad to be especially grisly and overly macabre, lacking restraint. Perhaps he expected that this was proper for the magazine he penned this piece for, which was in every sense a lurid and risque product. Still, I love this story, for it conjures forth a mood of horror that I find delicious.


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