The horror genre has more than its fair share of authors who are able to keep readers not only entranced but nervously double checking that their doors and windows are locked at night. Big names like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz and James Herbert have built their careers around conjuring up terrors. However, there is one author whose work is linked so tightly to the genre that just his name can cause shivers. Howard Phillips Lovecraft or H. P. Lovecraft as he is commonly known, might not have achieved the recognition he deserved during his lifetime, but that quickly changed after his death when his work became more widely known. The following X books can be read for free and offer a great way for horror fans to familiarize themselves with his work or for fans of Lovecraft to delve deeper into his Cthulhu Mythos.
The Color out of Space was published in 1927 and as it is a short story, it serves as a nice introduction to the work of Lovecraft. The story is told in the first person perspective by a surveyor who travels to the town of Arkham as part of his job. There he encounters an area shunned by locals, but the surveyor is unable to get any answers out of them until he speaks to an old man who appears crazy at first. It is then when he finds out about a meteorite that crashed to earth and caused mysterious things to happen.
Although written in 1926, The Call of Cthulhu was first published in 1926 by a pulp magazine named Weird Tales. This short story packs a lot of the elements that have made horror fans fall in love with the works of Lovecraft over the years. It is narrated by a character called Francis Wayland Thurston, who finds some strange notes that his grand-uncle left behind. It is by sifting through these notes and doing some investigating of his own that Thurston learns about a cult worshiping some very dark things. He also finds out about Cthulhu, a cosmic entity with humanoid, dragon and octopus characteristics.
The Dunwich Horror was published in 1929 and continues with the kind of themes that have made Lovecraft such an important name in the genre. It is also one of the very few stories written by the author that doesn’t end in tragedy. What makes this tale even more notable is that is is one of the first that continued to expand on prominent elements of the Cthulhu Mythos. The Dunwich Horror is set in the small titular village and focuses on the farmhouse where a strange family appears to be meddling with sinister things. It’s not long before the villagers have to deal with something that terrorizes the entire town, resulting in a shocking finale.
Readers who enjoyed the short stories by H. P. Lovecraft will also appreciate this 1931 horror novella, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It features many elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, so it is more enjoyable if you are already familiar with some of the places and creatures mentioned in previous stories. Told by a student who is on an antiquarian tour of New England, Shadows Over Innsmouth deals with the titular town and its strange inhabitants. This particular Lovecraft story also served as the inspiration for many other forms of media over the years, from comics, television, and films to even video games as well as board games.
At The Mountains of Madness is another very influential horror novella by H. P. Lovecraft. He wrote it in 1931, but it was rejected by the magazine Weird Tales because the editor thought it was too lengthy. In fact, it wasn’t until 1936 that it appeared in the pages of Astounding Stories. The story is narrated by a geologist named Dr. William Dyer, who led a group of explorers to Antarctica for an expedition in 1930. Dyer tells his story in an attempt to dissuade another group of scientists from making an expedition to the same continent. This is because of the evil that Dyer and his team encountered during their expedition and the unnamed evil, capable of causing people to lose their sanity, still lurking there.