The Dunwich Horror

Cover image for


Author: H.P. Lovecraft
Published: 1929
Language: English
Wordcount: 17,515 / 50 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 56.9
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 32,416
Added to site: 2006.03.09 13096
Genre: Horror

The story of Wilbur Whateley, son of a deformed albino mother and an unknown father, and the strange events surrounding his birth and precocious development. Wilbur matures at an abnormal rate, reaching manhood within a decade--all the while indoctrinated him into dark rituals and witchcraft by his grandfather.

Show Excerpt

dingly ugly despite his appearance of brilliancy; there being something almost goatish or animalistic about his thick lips, large-pored, yellowish skin, coarse crinkly hair, and oddly elongated ears. He was soon disliked even more decidedly than his mother and grandsire, and all conjectures about him were spiced with references to the bygone magic of Old Whateley, and how the hills once shook when he shrieked the dreadful name of Yog-Sothoth in the midst of a circle of stones with a great book open in his arms before him. Dogs abhorred the boy, and he was always obliged to take various defensive measures against their barking menace.


Meanwhile Old Whateley continued to buy cattle without measurably increasing the size of his herd. He also cut timber and began to repair the unused parts of his house - a spacious, peak-roofed affair whose rear end was buried entirely in the rocky hillside, and whose three least-ruined ground-floor rooms had always been sufficient for himself and his daughter.


Average Rating of 4 from 6 reviews: ****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1929) Horror (Occult) / Thriller

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • The town of Dunwich lies in the Miskatonic Valley, where legends of evil abide.

  • Dunwich's , Whateley family is mysterious and even feared. Wilbur is perhaps the strangest member of the family, as he was born under strange circumstances and grows to manhood very early. The Whateley farm is given wide berth due to ever increasing sounds, odors and unexplained events.

  • Wilbur and his Grandfather are believed to deal in the supernatural. Wilbur takes on a task to obtain access to the famous book of the occult, the Necronomicon. With the knowledge in the book he could bring back the 'Old Ones, An ancient race that wants to take back their world

  • Wilbur's efforts to obtain the book are brought to the attention of a college professor Dr. Armitage, who knows the true terror held within it's pages.

  • Wilbur dies in his attempt to get the book. Back on the Whateley farm, strange things are happening. There are strange sounds, odors, destruction and even death. And this all seems to be caused by a huge, yet invisible beast.

  • Dr. Armitage and two fellow professors, who have been convinced of the danger at Dunwich, set out to investigate and end the menace. Perhaps Wilbur and his Grandfather were not the last of the Whateley's.

  • Perhaps it is only now that the town must deal with the true terror of 'The Dunwich Horror'.

First published in 'Weird Tales' vol 13, April 1929 Vol. 13, no. 4.

There is a 1970 movie version that loosely adheres to the plot. It adds a girl and Wilbur is a handsome sophisticated man. It unfortunately turns the theme into a satanical sexual story. The movie as a horror picture is good, but it is not 'The Dunwich Horror'.


Supposedly, I'm getting e-mail uptaeds on that movie, but I haven't received a single one. Let's say my hopes aren't high. Actually, "The Call of Cthulhu" was a decent story, but I'm not sure how it could be effectively adapted to film, and that's probably a problem with Lovecraft generally.Don't get me wrong: the man's literary achievements are impressive. Lovecraft invented a unique writing style that so many horror writers since him have emulated. He was one of the first to give us aliens who are, in some way, truly alien. He invented fictional occult lore so convincing some people think it's real. Unquestionably, Lovecraft did great things; but great things don't always make thrilling literature, and I find a Cthulhu Mythos story about as interesting to read as a biology textbook.

Rob Reader

I do not like horror stories and generally find them a misuse of my time. It must be said however that Lovecraft is by far the best of all authors in this genre and I include Poe in that group. One always feels trepidation and often it is accompanied by what seems a genuine fear. I don't know that this makes it superior literature but occasionally I am drawn to Lovecraft's work simply to assure myself it is as engrossing as I remembered it. This story although at a slower pace than some of his other works will not disappoint the Lovecraft fan. He IS the master of his genre.

Paul Hatton

Although I enjoyed this as much as other tales by this author, I feel that they become very similar to each other. However, having said that, I also feel that Lovecraft is a wonderful weaver of suspense/horror.

Chris Baker

I read this because Dunwich and "The Whately Acadamy" and the Miskatonic Valley feature heavily in the stories at about a bunch of mutant teenagers. The Whately acadamy is a boarding high school for the kids. The story "bible" mentions that it is based on the locations and some of the ideas of H.P.Lovecraft and so I was curios. I have to say, if they thought this was horror back in the 1930's some of Steven Kings or Dean Koontz stuff would give them serious heart attacks. I have read 2 now and they are just kind of funny from my point of view. Interesting though, to see how they thought back then.

Stephen Vandiver

If you have never read Lovecraft before this is a good start. From the beginning Howard sets a dark mood. This is one of the greats. He has Miskatonic U. in here as well as the Necronomicon. Yog-Sothoth is introduced as well. The story starts off a little slow, but quickly picks up in pace as well as darkening the mood. The characters are memorable and the plot is good. One of my personal favorite shrt stories of all time. If you like supernatural horror or want to find out what the roots of modern horror stories came from then check this out.



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