Skip to main content

Howard Phillips Lovecraft remains one of the more controversial yet influential genre writers of the early 20th century. A man like his friend and contemporary, Robert E. Howard, who has stood the test of time. His creations in the Great Old Ones, Necronomicon, Nyarlathotep, and Deep Ones have resonated with generations of readers.

Perhaps his most admirable quality as a writer was the fact that he was never afraid to let anyone play with his toys. An early advocate of what we’d now call “open source” writing, he happily shared concepts and ideas with his fellow writers. Howard Phillips would be delighted at the longevity of his creations and the fact that he has entertained thousands of people through things like Call of Cthulhu and Arkham Horror tabletop games or the Re-Animator movies.

Speaking as the author of the Cthulhu Armageddon books as well as participant in such anthologies as Tales of the Al-Azif and Tales of Yog-Sothoth, I thought I would share some of my favorite post-Lovecraftian fiction created by writers willing to play around with HPL’s concepts. Many of these examine the alienation and xenophobia themes while keeping the cool monsters as others address them head on from new perspectives.

I admit my tastes have influenced me to choose the pulpier works over the scarier but it’s not like the former didn’t have plenty of HPL stories (The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath, The Dunwich Horror, and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) nor is the latter lacking for advocates. For the earlier Cthulhu novel recommendations, check out this.

10. The War of the God Queen by David Hambling

Link

Review

Blurb: Jessica: a modern woman, thrown back into the bronze age, alone among a strange and violent people.

Amir: a nomad warlord, leading a hopeless battle against monstrous invaders, looking for a miracle.

To Amir, the beautiful stranger is a sign from heaven. And Jessica, though no warrior, has hidden talents even she does not appreciate. When Jessica recruits other women abducted through time, they band together to fight back against the seemingly invulnerable Spawn

The future of humanity is at stake, and Jessica’s supposed friends may be more dangerous than her enemies..

You’ll love this epic fantasy driven by characters facing the challenge of becoming what they could only dream.

Review: David Hambling is a master of fantastic and weird fiction. I am very fond of his Harry Stubbs series and writings in the Books of Cthulhu series. However, this is probably my favorite weird fiction work by him. A feminist tale of a number of time-lost women that have been transported back to the Bronze Age where cthulhoid creatures intend to use them as breeding stock. Well, they have objections. A bit of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court mixed with Conan the Barbarian, mixed with plucky heroine stories.

9. The Statement of Andrew Doran by Matthew Davenport

Link

Review

Blurb: Dr. Andrew Doran has been out of touch with the major civilizations for quite a while. When an emissary from his Alma Mater demands his assistance, Andrew is in such a state that he has no choice but to help. The Nazis have taken the Necronomicon from Miskatonic University’s library. With it they could call upon every form of darkness and use the powers of the void to destroy all who stand in their way of unlimited power.

For years Doran has been at odds with Miskatonic University.

Putting his negative feelings aside, Andrew takes charge and heads straight into the Nazi-controlled territories of Europe. Along his journey from America and into the heart of Berlin, the dark Traum Kult, or Dream Cult, has sent beasts from the void between worlds to slow his progress.

This is adventure and monsters unlike anything the anthropologist has ever experienced, and only with the assistance of the trigger-happy Leo and the beautiful Olivia, both members of the French Resistance, does Dr. Doran have any chance of success. A sane man would flinch. Dr. Andrew Doran charges in.

Review: Sometimes you want a transparent Indiana Jones versus Cthulhu story. I’m a big fan of the Andrew Doran books. Our protagonist is an occult professor at Miskatonic University who is more interested in hunting down cultists, Nazis, and Nazi cultists than he is about teaching class. They’re very much in the Pulp mold of storytelling and perhaps a bit too episodic but our hero runs into every supernatural monster HPL created on his journey to recover the Necronomicon from Nazi Berlin.

8. Cthulhu Reloaded by David Croyden

Link

Blurb: The Stars are Right. Humans… prepare for extinction.

Eldritch gods, cosmic horrors, and weird physics are the enemy, striking from nameless dimensions we can’t perceive, destroying us with strangeness beyond human comprehension. Major Harrison Peel understands these Great Old Ones better than anyone. He wishes he didn’t.

Forced into his latest assignment, Peel must confront an alien Outer God known only as the Impossible Object. Held in a secret facility deep in the Australian desert, no two people perceive it the same way, and it conforms to no known properties of the universe. Then the Impossible Object promises to reveal the secrets of everything, or cause all space and time to blink from existence… forever.

Are humans supposed to choose? And if so, can Peel guess the Impossible Object’s intensions? For the fate of everything could rest entirely in his hands…

For fans of weird science fiction, Delta Green and Charles Stross’s The Laundry, the Harrison Peel series is a collection of interconnected cosmic horror stories that explore the world, and the entire universe, of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, stretched across all space and time.

Review: The Harrison Peel stories are a perfect counter for the Lovecraftian ethos that humans should be helpless victims before unknowable horrors. Major Peel is a soldier for the Australian government who is continually roped into supernatural encounters. The stories work because the horror is still alien and unknowable but he reacts as intelligently as possible to dealing with them. He can’t punch or shoot them away like, say, Captain Booth in my books can. You know, except for running away and never thinking about the Mythos again.

7. Ashes of Onyx by Seth Skorkowsky

Link

Review

Blurb: They stole her magic.

They killed her friends.

Nothing in the multiverse will stop her quest for revenge.

Kate Rossdale once held all the promise of becoming Baltimore’s greatest sorceress. But promise is a hard thing to hold when your coven is murdered, your magic is stripped away, and the only solace left to you comes one powdered line at a time.

When she’s offered the restoration of her power by a man she doesn’t know or trust, Kate sets in motion the retribution of her enemies.

Soon she finds herself racing across the globe, and across worlds, venturing into exotic realms of forbidden dreams, to the spires of Lost Carcosa, hunting for the magic-thief who robbed her of everything she held dear, including the most dangerous magic any sorceress can possess—hope.

If you like Clive Barker, Joshua Bader, Shayne Silvers, Jim Butcher, M.D. Massey, and Brad Magnarella, you’ll love this unique urban fantasy adventure!

“Skorkowsky channels heavy themes of guilt, grief, and addiction into a bloody quest for revenge in this explosive, world-spanning urban fantasy. Gruesome fight scenes and wildly imaginative, richly described alternate worlds lend an epic feel to their adventure. Dark fantasy fans will relish this magical thrill ride.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Review: Seth Skorkowsky, one of the best Youtube commentators on Call of Cthulhu adventures, is a good friend of mine. He’s also a very talented writer. This book deals with a substance abusing mage, Kate Rossdale, as she finds herself on a quest that will take her to Lost Carcosa in the Dreamlands. If you like the more mystical and surreal elements of the Cthulhu Mythos then this is the book for you.

6. The Last Ritual by SA Sidor

Link

Review

Blurb: A mad surrealist’s art threatens to rip open the fabric of reality, in this twisted tale of eldritch horror and conspiracy, from the wildly popular world of Arkham Horror.

Aspiring painter Alden Oakes is invited to join a mysterious art commune in Arkham: the New Colony. When celebrated Spanish surrealist Juan Hugo Balthazarr visits the colony, Alden and the other artists quickly fall under his charismatic spell. Balthazarr throws a string of decadent parties for Arkham’s social elite, conjuring arcane illusions which blur the boundaries between nightmare and reality. Only slowly does Alden come to suspect that Balthazarr’s mock rituals are intended to break through those walls and free what lies beyond. Alden must act, but it might already be too late to save himself, let alone Arkham.

Review: While so many of these books go in different directions than HP Lovecraft, it’s nice to do something more traditional. In this case, a wealthy young dilettante has a strange encounter in Spain with a local festival before discovering that a famous artist has taken up residence in Arkham. The link between art and the supernatural is explored as well as the fact that the protagonist is woefully unqualified to deal with any of this. I think the graphic audio version of this book is the best way to enjoy it personally but the book itself is fun by itself.

5. Let Sleeping Gods Lie by David J. West

Link

Blurb: Louis L’Amour Meets Lovecraft

4. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson

Link

Blurb: World Fantasy Award winner, Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell, and Locus Award finalist for Best Novella, and one of NPR‘s Best Books of 2016

Professor Vellitt Boe teaches at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College. When one of her most gifted students elopes with a dreamer from the waking world, Vellitt must retrieve her.

Kij Johnson’s haunting novella The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is both a commentary on a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and a profound reflection on a woman’s life. Vellitt’s quest to find a former student who may be the only person who can save her community takes her through a world governed by a seemingly arbitrary dream logic in which she occasionally glimpses an underlying but mysterious order, a world ruled by capricious gods and populated by the creatures of dreams and nightmares. Those familiar with Lovecraft’s work will travel through a fantasy landscape infused with Lovecraftian images viewed from another perspective, but even readers unfamiliar with his work will be enthralled by Vellitt’s quest.

3. Miskatonic by Mark Sable

Link

Review

Blurb: Miskatonic Valley holds many mysteries – cultists worshipping old gods, a doctor deadset on resurrecting the recently deceased, a house overrun by rats in the walls – but none more recent than a series of bombings targeting the Valley’s elite.

To Bureau of Investigation (the predecessor of the FBI) chief J. Edgar Hoover, there can be no other explanation than those responsible for similar actions during the Red Scare of the 1920s. But when the brilliant, hard-nosed investigator Miranda Keller is sent to stop the bombings, she uncovers an unimaginable occult conspiracy, one that may cost her both her job and her sanity.

From writer Mark Sable (WAR ON TERROR: GODKILLERS, Graveyard of Empires) and artist Giorgio Pontrelli (Dylan Dog), MISKATONIC is a mix of historical crime fiction and Lovecraftian-horror that dives deep into the American nightmare.

Review: Independent comics are a different breed from independent books. They require a lot more effort in production than your typical ebook or even print on demand work. Still, this is definitely an indie production and a fantastic one at that. Following the adventures of one of the last female detectives of the Bureau of Investigation before J Edgar Hoover fires them, they find themselves neck deep in the Cthulhu Mythos as well as the reactionary politics of the day.

2. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird by Various

Link

Blurb: For more than eighty years H.P. Lovecraft has inspired writers of supernatural fiction, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and gaming. His themes of cosmic indifference, the utter insignificance of humankind, minds invaded by the alien, and the horrors of history — written with a pervasive atmosphere of unexplainable dread — remain not only viable motifs, but are more relevant than ever as we explore the mysteries of a universe in which our planet is infinitesimal and climatic change is overwhelming it.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century the best supernatural writers no longer imitate Lovecraft, but they are profoundly influenced by the genre and the mythos he created. New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird presents some of the best of this new Lovecraftian fiction — bizarre, subtle, atmospheric, metaphysical, psychological, filled with strange creatures and stranger characters — eldritch, unsettling, evocative, and darkly appealing.

Review: A well-chosen and smartly edited anthology of such luminaries as Kim Newman, Neil Gaiman, Cherie Priest, Charles Stross, Sarah Monette, and China Mieville among others. There’s some truly great stories throughout this work like “Pickman’s Other Model” which is about a sexualized ghoul in the turbulent 1920s, “A Study in Emerald” which has been rightfully reprinted many times, and “Shoggoths in Bloom” which asks the question whether the shoggoths could ever have been as horrifying as the people who enslaved them.

1. The Brotherhood of the Beast by the Hp Lovecraft Historical Society

Link

Review

Blurb: A hardened archaeologist and a wealthy adventurer join forces to look into inexplicable murders in Boston. Before long, their investigation reveals a nefarious conspiracy, with tentacles reaching from their own past to the furthest corners of the globe. Will the duo and a team of trusted comrades be able to thwart an unholy alliance of dark forces, or does our very world stand upon the precipice of a terrifying doom? 

Review: This is a radio play and doesn’t quite qualify as a novel but it’s got all of the enjoyment I got out of the Masks of Nyarlathotep one produced by Dark Adventure Theater. Here, a group of adventurers are caught up in plot to install a reincarnation of the Black Pharoah in as the Anti-Christ-esque ruler of the world. It’s based on the classic Chaosium adventure, The Fungi from Yuggoth and goes in different directions from HPL’s classic tales but I have to admit some of the stories like the opening one with a child murderer in an old lady’s house are just fantastic. I hope they make a sequel someday.

Related Articles

One Comment

Leave a Reply