For Christmas I got a Waterstones giftcard and as well as getting a few books I wanted, I also decided to pick up The Colour Out of Space by H P Lovecraft (the Penguin Mini Modern Classics version, which contains 3 short stories).
I’ve been meaning to read some Lovecraft for a while but wasn’t sure where to start – so this book of short stories, I thought was a good taster into his work. I’m also not usually a big horror fan so I also wasn’t sure I wanted to invest a lot into a genre that I wasn’t familiar with.
The three short stories it includes are The Colour Out of Space, The Outsider and The Hound. I’ll be talking about all three.
First up is The Colour Out of Space a clever blend of science fiction and horror. One man, recounts how a large piece of countryside and farming land came to be known as “the blasted heath” after a meteorite crashed to the ground was found to contain a globule with strange properties and a colour that has never been seen before.
The terror builds very slowly at first whilst scientists work away at figuring out what’s going on, but it snowballs as it dawns on everyone that they have no idea what they’re dealing with and the fear of the unknown sets in.
We then get more personal with the people living closest the the crash site and how it’s affecting them – the strange things they see at night and experience within their own home.
The descriptions of events is very deep, but any details about what came from the meteorite are purposely left very thin on the ground – making your mind wander of it’s own accord.
This short but very affective story really did give me the creeps.
Secondly we have The Outsider which is much less creepy. The story (which is very short) begins with an individual who is trapped in a rather run down castle and has been for as long as he can remember, he plans his escape but things aren’t what he imagined on the outside.
This really is rather trippy. An optical illusion of a sad fairy tale, with a very sad moral reasoning.
It’s rather short (even for a short story) so I was left wanting a little more to happen, more detail, more information but I was rather fascinated by the world or plain Lovecraft had created.
Last in this little book is The Hound – a story about grave diggers so hungry to own treasures and things thought lost long ago, that they even steal the “forbidden Necronomicon”. From that day on, they are haunted and hunted by a hound – leaving them scared and paranoid.
The characters in this one are all rather intense – whether they are greedy, elated or paranoid – you feel it with them 100%. You can’t escape it because they are such highly fueled emotions.
Their desperation in the end is what really gets the horror going as they realise there is only one way to stop being haunted.
This definitely has that all out intense, on going terror feel to it. The hound is a constant threat, never leaving them no matter what they do or where they go. It’s a great short story, that could be reworked into a novel quite easily but the ending to this short form is probably much more emotive.
Overall this book is a great buy – it cost me £3.00, is a fantastic quick read and it’s been a great introduction for me into Lovecraft’s work which I will definitely be delving into more.
Highly recommend it to anyone who wants ease their way into some H.P. Lovecraft, or who isn’t sure if they’ll like his work.