Knowledge brings pain. Madness offers release.
The Picture in the House (02-16)
A long winded beginning lectures the audience on the nature of horror, leaving no doubt that something will happen in this isolated “shack” in the wilderness of New England. A further two pages are spent describing the interior of the shack before adding a second character to the scene, the old man who lives here. The two share a brief conversation, arousing both suspicion and fear.
The description does much to characterize the old man, but intermixing the prose with the dialogue might have made for an easier read.
The Outsider (03-16)
This story features the most unreliable narrator of the anthology, a prisoner who doesn’t remember anything. Most of the story focuses on describing his prison and what he finds outside. The plot is fairly simple, with a predictable punchline, but the prose is well written, if a bit verbose.
Pickman’s Model (04-16)
The opening epilogue promises horror, but most of the story is a mundane narrative. The narrator meets and gets to know a local artist who specializes in portrayals of monsters. A tour of his studio reveals more disturbing images, but the real terror is short lived, as the last line of the story reveals why the narrator is so afraid.
In the Vault (05-16)
A dry account of the facts gives way to a dull narrative of how George Birch ended up trapped in a crypt, and his eventual escape. The story is simpler than most, playing on fear of death and the dead, but the story invokes little sympathy. Instead the ending adds a touch of humor to the story.
A dark comedy, if any of Lovecraft’s work can be called humorous.
The Silver Key (06-16)
“What is real?” This question confronts the narrator. Once a dreamer of wondrous places, he has been bereft of his otherworldly journeys. Most of the narrative is spent engaging various philosophies on the nature of life and reality. What he imagines in his mind has greater impact upon him than the experiences he has in the waking world. What does that say about reality?
The story lacks fear or tension. Instead the narrative serves as a framework to directly engage questions of perspective and reality, which are often indirectly explored through Lovecraft’s other stories.
Best of HP Lovecraft 3of6-Anthology