Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Serial by H.P. Lovecraft
1. The Shadow on the Chimney
Our unnamed narrator and his two beefy henchmen are investigating a "lurking fear" that lives on Tempest Mountain, in the Catskills. Fifty or so poor villages are killed one night and so they think there might be something to the stories of the haunted, abandoned Martense mansion. They have a little sleep-over in the bedroom of long-ago-murder-victim Jan Martense and both companions vanish. The narrator sees a scary shadow but doesn't die. 3/5
2. A Passer in the Storm
Foreshadowing the real solution in a way too subtle to notice at first. The narrator makes friends with another reporter, Arthur Munroe, who helps him research the Martense family. The are investigating an abandoned hamlet and take shelter from a storm in an old cabin. Arthur opens the window to look outside and something comes by and stealthily eats off his face. The narrator notices this only when he turns him around. 2/5
3. What the Red Glare Meant
Lots of history on the Martense family and how they murdered Jan and eventually vanished. The narrator digs down into Jan's grave for some reason (he is a bit crazy and thinks the monster is Jan's ghost). He digs his way into a tunnel leading out from the mansion and while crawling through it, meets a monster with a claw. He is saved by a lightning strike, and a few days later learns that one was killed in a village miles away. There are more than one of them. 4/5
4. The Horror in the Eyes
The narrator goes completely crazy, then discovers what the monsters are and goes a bit crazier when he realizes there are hundreds of them. He wraps things up with the exceptionally practical solution of dynamiting the top of the mountain into oblivion, mansion and all. 4/5
Although the answer tunnels are foreshadowed, the stupid, annoying red herrings: the forest vs. open land connection and the ghost thing are confusing and frustrating on the first read. Plus it makes no sense that one of them basically gave him a hug and let him live back in the mansion, or that it was so stealthy he didn't notice it eating off Arthur's face. All I can figure is that ninjas must have interbred with these monsters at some point.
The flurry of alliteration and big words at the end somehow works very well to instill a sense of horror and the mystery aspect to this one works well, even if frustrating at times. This story is a bit more philosophical once we get to the third installment, and that is where I start to like it a lot more. Both good and bad at the same time, this one gets 3.5 fulgurites out of 5.