Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft

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Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft

Necronomicon is a collection of 36 horror fiction tales written by H.P. Lovecraft during his life.  Lovecraft was born in 1890 and through his grandfather’s love of storytelling, grew to spin his own very unique and wildly fascinating tales.  Lovecraft is now known for his disturbing stories, yet his success was post mortem.  Lovecraft actually died due to poverty and the lack of success of his writing while he was alive.  Many references to his work have lived on even to present day pop culture.  The main location mentioned in a few of his stories is a fictional place called Arkham, Massachusetts. The first location in Arkham that is mentioned most often is the Miskatonic University.  There are references to many topics of study at the college but like most of the stories it has an air of the occult.  Also in Arkham is the mention of the Asylum.  I do not profess myself to be a Batman fanatic but there seems to be a lot of connections between Lovecraft, Arkham and the Arkham Asylum.  Whether this is intentional or not I am not sure, but it makes for interesting discussion and connections.  Some of the Friday the 13th movies have also taken inspiration from Lovecraft.

On the topic of Asylums, it is something to note that when Lovecraft was only 3 years old, his father was placed in a psychiatric hospital, where he later died.  If this wasn’t enough to inspire the Asylum and perhaps many of his tales, his mother also entered the asylum in her later years.  The concept of being in an asylum was quite different back then as it would be today.  Other than the obvious difference that “asylums” don’t really exist and are referred to more as mental health hospitals.  Back then many common ailments were enough to admit people to an asylum such as sex addiction and alcoholism, or simply being female.  While this takes us off topic it is worth mentioning as it must have influenced much of his writing.

The Necronomicon is a fictional book created by Lovecraft.  It is said the Necronomicon was written by the “Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred” and is a mystical book full of occult tales and incantations.  The name was later used to publish a series of Lovecraft’s tales which is the book in question for this review.  I came across the intriguing cover at the Chapters store and made note to look into it at a later date.  I had let it disappear into the mass of “Books to read” list and did not happen upon it again until finding the audiobook version.  Coming in at 21 hours, it seemed a bit daunting going into the task, as most of my audiobook listening is done in the car, to and from work.  I did not research the book or really go into much detail of what I was getting into before starting to listen.  If I had looked even on the surface I would have known this is a series of tales, read by multiple narrators.  This means there were 36 unrelated tales by different voices, and of different lengths.  The best way to review this book would be to make notes after reading each story, but when one starts and another ends between twists and turns while driving, it became obvious I would not be able to keep track so easily.

There were many strange tales to say the least.  Some were more easily grasped, while others remained difficult to follow.  There were those I had no interest in and wished would end sooner rather than later, and those I would have liked to continue.  The difficulty in naming these is the fact, again, that there were 36 tales of varying lengths and titles that all essentially blended together.  Because of this I was not able to catch each name to go into extensive detail.  Below is a list of the tales included in the book, and while reading through the list I’m fairly certain that it is not in order from what I heard, making it even more difficult.  My favourite would have to be “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”.  After reading about Lovecraft and some of his past,  there seem to be many similarities between Lovecraft and Mr.Ward and it makes you wonder what things from his life directly inspired this tale.

The tale “The Call of Cthulhu” has inspired what is called the Cthulhu Mythos, which is a universe of fictional tales inspired by this Lovecraft tale.

People have often told me of times when they have read things and were actually frightened.  This is easy for me to comprehend with movies but more difficult when it comes to reading.  I’m sure my overactive imagination could conjure up some disturbing images, but even with some shocking twists and revelations in the below tales, I did not find myself scared or worked up.  Lovecraft is known for his dark twisted tales and being what some may call a grandfather to some horror fiction, but there seems to be something defective in me for not being able to notice this.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to hear such an extensive variety of tales with some truly unique concepts.  I can’t say how I would have faired reading the book, rather than listening, although I imagine if I had read it you would be waiting quite a bit longer for a review!

For those interested in some dark twisted tales, the Necronomicon is a great selection of weird tales that can be read essentially in any order and at your leisure.  For those not interested in this genre you certainly have to go in with an open mind, and after reading a tale or two would be able to determine if you would dare work your way through all 36.

List of stories from the Necronomicon book courtesy of Wikipedia

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