Member Reviews

What do you think of when you hear something’s been inspired by H.P. Lovecraft? For me it’s mysterious, cosmic, monolithic, even god-like horrors—horrors that are often hard to describe, but that’s part of what makes it Lovecraftian. As a rule, there are tentacles involved.

There are a lot of authors who play in Lovecraft’s sandbox—minus the virulent, unacceptable racism—to greater and lesser success. The very best of them, such as Matt Ruff with Lovecraft Country, put their own unique spin on the eldritch horrors.

It should come as no surprise that Joe R. Lansdale’s take on Lovecraft is utterly original—Scary, fun, and cosmic as all hell. Lansdale is a master in just about every genre imaginable (not sure if he’s ever tried his hand at children’s books, but that could be interesting), and it shows here. The eight stories dip into several genres, sometimes more than one at once, and it pays off big time. Every story is a home run, but here are my favorites:

The Bleeding Shadow—Blues music as a vehicle for opening a door to another, terrifying dimension…a door that can’t be closed.

Dread Island—An all-out gonzo masterpiece that somehow throws Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, characters from the Uncle Remus, a mysterious island in the middle of the Mississippi, and unknowable cosmic horror into a blender and hits puree.

The Crawling Sky—This grim, somber story transplants Lovecraftian horror to the old west, with terrifying results.

In the Mad Mountains—The title story in this collection is easily one of my favorites things Lansdale has ever written. Set in a forbidding arctic landscape, the horrors of “In the Mad Mountains” just keep coming. A bravura performance.

These are my personal favorite stories, but they’re all excellent. Lansdale is a national treasure.

In the Mad Mountains debuts October 15th, and is available for pre-order now.

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Few books scream "summer" as much as the collections of Lansdale's short stories, and I enjoyed them again this time, even if there were few new ones. The introduction also, where the author himself says he doesn't like the way Lovercraft writes at all, made me feel, if possible, even closer to him. There are gems and there are filler stories, but since we are talking about Lansdale, even the fillers deserve at least three stars, so, as they say in Italy, come caschi caschi bene.

Pochi libri urlano "estate" tanto quanto le raccolte dei racconti di Lansdale, e anche stavolta me li sono goduti, anche se poche erano le novitá. L'introduzione inoltre, dove l'autore stesso dice di non amare affatto come scrive Lovercraft, me lo ha fatto sentire, se possibile, ancora piú vicino. Ci sono delle perle e ci sono dei racconti riempitivi, ma siccome stiamo parlando di Lansdale, anche i riempitivi meritano almeno tre stelle, quindi, come si dice in Italia, come caschi caschi bene.

I received from the Publisher a complimentary digital advanced review copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.

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I'm a big fan of Lovecraftian/Eldritch/cosmic horror in general, like it's probably my favorite niche genre of anything, so I was excited to see this anthology - and not only is all Lovecraftian or cosmic horror, it's by a well-established writer who's work even found itself on the excellent Netflix series Love, Death + Robots (seriously can't recommend this highly enough if you haven't checked it out yet).

Unfortunately, the bulk of the stories in Lansdale's collection are rather dull. One is the written version of one of his episodes on Love, Death + Robots, which was interesting. The best stories are near the end though.

As I usually do when reviewing anthologies, here were my favorites in the collection:

Dread Island - a sort of Mark Twain fanfic, it features Huck and Jim exploring an island not unlike what Algernon Blackwood wrote in The Willows, but a lot scarier. Really well done, it had me on the edge of my seat.

Starlight, Eyes Bright - mostly reminiscent of Color Out of Space, particularly the film adaptation from a couple years ago starring Nic Cage. This one ends in an unexpected way though. Short and sweet.

In the Mad Mountains - I think you can guess the inspiration behind this tale lol My favorite of the bunch and the creepiest in my opinion, this would make an excellent episode in the next season of Love, Death, + Robots!

The rest of the tales are sadly mostly average. But average isn't bad. The only real negative I can think of is that Lansdale can be awkward with dialogue. Very little of it feels natural, to the point where it's difficult to understand the time period, social standing, nationality, culture, etc a lot of the time. That's not something you think of as very important when reading but their absence or oddness is felt. The dialogue can get... old fashioned and unnecessarily formal, leaning academic a lot of the time rather than natural.

Anyway, overall a decent collection of Lovecraftian novellas sure to please any fan... as for others, I can't say.

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Nothing struck me in this book. The short stories I felt were weak, I liked the honest introduction; but did it muddy the writers love for Lovecraft? I'm not a lovecraft super fan, I have read some of his work. And the description of "inspired" is an apt one. These try to follow the same vein as Lovecraft, but they fell flat for me. Originally I thought this was an anthology by different writers and I was excited to see the different styles and stories from a selction of people; however, I then found out it was just one writer. Overall, not for me.

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What an eclectic, delicious collection of creepy short stories! I haven't read much H.P. Lovecraft, but I feel like I have (should?) given how many other stories I've read where the authors say their writing was influenced by him. I gobbled up Joe Lansdale's stories, and found his writing to be engaging and outstanding. From story to story, the way Lansdale assembled his sentences allowed me to hear the voices of the memorable characters and become immersed in the scenes.

Prepare for top-notch world building in otherworldly places you will NOT want to visit unless from safely within the pages of the book.

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Stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft? I'm in! Then I started reading them...

This was a disappointing anthology. You'll know what's coming after a couple of paragraphs—no surprises, no mystery, and worst of all, no scares.

Eight short tales to waste your time since only two are worth reading. Let me give a few examples of what went wrong in this anthology.

A Sherlock Holmes-like investigator seems to know everything that is happening, like a magician pulling most of his reasoning and facts out of a hat.

A couple of shipwreck survivors give meaning to their surroundings by guessing (yeah, just guessing), and they happen to be correct.

A character (X) gets into trouble (predictably) by doing something stupid. Character Y knows precisely what will transpire but chooses to tell X only after the fact.

While the writing is superb, the stories lack foreboding.

It's not a read I would recommend.

Thank you for the advanced copy!

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I’ve frequently commented on the range and creativity of Joe Lansdale, an author who seems to defy easy categorization and who has little interest in genre boundaries and definitions. You would think that a themed collection such as In the Mad Mountains: Stories Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft would limit that experimentation, but that’s absolutely untrue; instead, even within the broad umbrella of “cosmic and eldritch horrors,” Lansdale goes in all kinds of unexpected places, from a tale of Huck Finn and Jim exploring a haunted island to a blues musician whose talent comes with a heavy price. Sure, there are some direct homages (the title story is an obvious riff on Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness as filtered through the tale of shipwreck survivors) but by no means is that the norm; one story, “The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning,” is in fact a Poe pastiche - and rather than going for the obvious route of choosing Poe’s horror tales, Lansdale instead makes use of Poe’s detective stories as a way into his cosmic nightmares. Weird Westerns with a demon-fighting reverend, an unsettling train stop in the middle of the night, a husband haunted by a piece of glass that he’s found - even within the narrow lines of a themed collection, you can see Lansdale’s range and creativity, ensuring that the word “inspired” is the right choice (rather than “imitations”). It’s a solid collection of horrors, with only one iffy entry (“The Case of the Stalking Shadows” is a bit more lifeless than it should be); otherwise, it’s a consistently entertaining, varied, horrifying, and vividly told collection.

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I believe that Lansdale is one of the greatest living writers of short stories, and I think this prowess is due to his immense skill as a rehasher. He swallows anything, chews it up, digests it, makes it his own and spits it out new and better. This time it was the turn of the revered Lovecraft, a very bad writer from a technical point of view (I fully agree with Lansdale) who had the ability to create a powerful mythology, difficult to dislodge from the imagination once one has read his stories about the Great Old Ones and the Necronomicon. As always when it comes to short stories, there are highs and lows, but in this case even the lows are of a very high standard and by the time you get to the last story, the book really closes reluctantly.

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I really enjoyed reading this book, it had that H.P. Lovecraft elements that I was looking for and enjoyed from the world. The stories worked well overall and had enjoyed how each story worked well.

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This is a great collection. It’s Joe Lansdale. Of course it’s good. These are all pastiches of the highest caliber and they’re all reprints so there’s a good chance that you’ve read them before. It’s nice having them in one volume. Buy it.

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I love Lansdale’s work so much, and there are some really great stories here and some forgettable ones. The first might be my favorite, the Bleeding Shadow. This was such an unsettling story to me and I loved it. The Crawling Sky, with its old west setting, has a great character in the reverend and blended comedy and horror well.

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Look, as soon as I see the words inspired by Lovecraft, I'm already in. I confess though at first dipping into In the Mad Mountains I got a little nervous, Lansdale stated that he was more keen on the Old Ones rather than the rather niche and esoteric "alas dear reader I cannot describe what I saw that fateful night" antics of Lovecraft. (I was nervous about this because bizarrely that semi-kitschy stuff is what I like most)

Anyway I needn't have been worried, although I will say the flavour of Lansdale's stories are a little different than Cosmic Horror - I would say more Horror Horror, or adventure horror - but in the end all GOOD.

The Bleeding Shadow has a Lovecraft Country vibe and is a very rough around the edges piece about a deal with the devil predictably gone wrong.

Dread Island, reads as a sort of "horror up" of classic tales. Possibly of any of the tales enclosed this has some of the most vivid imagery, and even though I prefer my horrors unknown the horrors presented in this story are quite memorable.

The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning, is a riff on Poe's Dupin. It's a little more light hearted than the previous too works, but in my opinion is just a wee bit too much. Not only does the story drag from Poe and Lovecraft, we also have Grimm and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein shoehorned in

The Tall Grass was perhaps my favourite tale of the bunch. It has a kind of more Cosmic vibe in terms of a relatively open ended story that's more about the MC brushing up against something horrific and then having to move on with their life.

The Cast of the Stalking Shadow is a solid piece, leaning back into more horror adventure than cosmic horror.

The Crawling Sky is a bit of a strange one. A recurring character for Lansdale the story reads as a more action adventure with Cosmic Horror influence. It's fun enough with a VERY rough around the edges vibe too.

Starlight, Eyes Bright stands out more weird addition, less overt grossness and more mystery. Something that is always favourable in a short story collection is a bit of variety in tone between stories and Starlight provides that.

In the Mad Mountains - I confess I found the final piece perhaps one of the weaker additions. In my opinion this is where the action adventure meeting cosmic horror didn't gel the best. I felt like the tale wanted to provide that Cosmic alarm and terror, while also having wee action set pieces which didn't create a consistent vibe. I also just felt like it was a bit much - too many elements thrown together in one tale.

Overall I really enjoyed this one - Lansdale has a bit of a cheeky lilt to his prose which is a unique touch to the genre, which like I said I'm a sucker for anyways!!

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I've never been able to fully fall in love with anything by Lansdale. So it goes. There are two pretty fun stories and the rest are at least serviceable.

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