Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Black Bottles by H.P. Lovecraft


Two Black Bottles
by H.P. Lovecraft and Wilfred Blanch Talman

Our narrator, a calm and sensible man, travels to the mountain village of Daalbergen following the death of his Uncle Dominie in order to settle his estate. Upon arriving, he quickly learns that the superstitious locals believe that good ol' Uncle Dom is not quite dead, yet not quite alive, inhabiting some place between our world and the Hereafter.

It seems that Dominie was a bit of a preacher man, and a good one, too. One that the townsfolk could rely on. But then, in the wake of a stranger's arrival, everything changed. The town itself quickly fell on hard times, which inevitably drives some to greener pastures and others in search of the Lord's guidance. No such guidance was to be found at Dominie's church, not anymore. These days, the sermons were all brimstone and hellfire, a demonic mishmash of malevolence dedicated to some unseen and forgotten deity.

And now Dominie is dead and buried, but the town is still plagued by bad luck. The locals are certain that the stranger, Abel Foster, is to blame.

It's a solid and creepy short story, if only for some of the images that it conjures up. The idea of an evil preacher is a pungent one, and it still resonates no matter how many times we see it. As for the black bottles and what they contain, I won't spoil that here. But I found it interesting in that it seemed reminiscent of some forgotten voodoo rite. And I am a sucker for some voodoo!

Overall, I enjoyed this tale even if it isn't Lovecraft in his purest form.


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