Review: The Dunwich Horror
As I try to slog through "The Wanderer" I decided to take a short break and read something else. For that I picked The Dunwich Horror by H. P. Lovecraft. I had not read this story before but I had heard a lot of it. This is one of my favorite of the Lovecraft stories that I have read so far and captures a lot of the things that I love about H. P. Lovecraft.
It starts with a writing style that feels a bit odd as it describes the town of Dunwich from the point of someone who simply takes a wrong turn and ends up driving through the town. Being written in an odd way really helped this part of the story to set a tone for the entire story to me in a way that you could not have easily achieved with simple description.
Among the descriptions you learn that the town is largely inbred and probably dying as anyone who leaves for college does not come back. And then goes to a disfigured albino woman who has a strange child. The story is in many ways the story of the life of that child as it looks very strange being dark ugly almost from the beginning. It also grows very quickly walking at seven months and at four looking like it is ten.
There is never really any suggestion that this is anything but evil and it is similar in many ways to Pan though that description is marginally veiled for some of the story. it is hairy with strange legs though they are more strange than the simple goat legs of Pan it seems.
The child studies the occult from the beginning and eventually becomes convinced that he needs the Necronomicon. By this time though he has become seven feet tall and looks a bit like a goat. He is rebuffed by the librarian at Arkham and that same librarian calls ahead to the other places he might get it and warns them not to loan it to him.
At this point the story begins to get less predictable as to this point while well written it was largely pretty basic. You discover the plot of the boy and have a real monster battle as well. H. P. Lovecraft also describes far more than he typically does in his stories giving you a real idea of the monsters rather than making it indescribable.
If you want a very good discussion on this and many other H. P. Lovecraft stories check out the H.P. Lovecraft literary podcast at hppodcraft.com