Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Book of the month: H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror

A young man stands on a wind-blown, benighted hillside, somewhere in New England. He focuses a camera on a tripod at a dark lake at the bottom of the hill. Across the lake, amongst the trees and undergrowth, something large moves...

So begins H.P.Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, a graphic novel from IDW, written by Joe Lansdale with art by Peter Bergting. The story is really a sequel to the events in HPL's original short story, with Professor Armitage's grandson and some of his friends working together to banish a monster that has been summoned to earth.

There are many echoes here of the Edge of Darkness, one of the starter adventures which appeared in the 5th edition of the Call of Cthulhu RPG. A ritual gone wrong. A group of ordinary people caught up in a battle against time. Secrets of a previous generation of occultists waiting to be uncovered.

The plot revolves around a group of cynical and intelligent twenty-somethings as they tackle things that man was not meant to know, including the fearsome Necronomicon. This is most definitely a Cthulhu Mythos tale of the 21st century, but with echoes stretching back to the 1930s. Technology, from mobile phones to hacking, plays a part in the plot. And it is not only a sequel to the original tale, it also postulates how some of the 'facts' have been changed by Armitage / Lovecraft to cover up additional truths.

The whole tale resonates very much with the atmosphere and pace one might want to achieve with a CoC one shot adventure in the contemporary world and could probably serve as the inspiration for such.

The second part of the book is a reproduction of HPL's short story, 'The Hound', but this does not come from the same team and is a far, far inferior product. I guess it must be included here just to bulk out the book. It is really just a set of gloomy illustrations of the type that were popular with artists of a gothic bent in the 1990s, with the script of the story reproduced in a very hard to read font. You're better off reading the original.

I can't really say much more than this without spoilers, but it is worth a read if you can find a copy at a knock down rate.

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