The Taint and other Novellas By Brian Lumley
This is a collection of novellas sent in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was a master of macabre horror. His writing is often called "cosmic horror." H.P. Lovecraft was influenced by Arthur Machen a writer of macabre stories.
The stories in the novellas for the most part follow the pattern of the stories in Lovecraft's works. This collection is focused on the Cthulhu mythos, stories about strange and terrible beings from other dimensions and the far stars. The elements of fear to the point of madness, monstrous slimy octopoid things, forbidden occult tomes, shadowy places at the edges of this world, and places too horrible to imagine are in these stories.
There is a real sense of nameless dread. Brian Lumley does this well. He has written a wide variety of horror books. His main hero is the occultist Titus Crow who prevents dark things from entering our world from the dreamlands and the Cthulhu mythos. Lumley has a website at
The first story is a story about the god of the winds who bears a son in the frozen north. The story is called Born of the Winds. This is a story where everyone even the hero dies in the chill.
The Fairground Horror is a story of greed and folly. Hamilton Thorpe acquires a collection of terrifying antiquities from his mad brother. His greed blinds him to the increasingly terrible things happening around him. He is warned but does not listen and succumbs to a gruesome death.
In many of the stories, the protagonists are given chances to quit what they are doing, but they do not due to their own personal failings or curiosities.
The opening story, The Horror at Oakdeene is about a man studying strange psychological cases in an insane asylum. He himself becomes drawn into the madness of the patients and eventually after experiencing something unspeakable becomes a patient himself.
All of these stories have the terrible guttural language of things that came before man. There are short dark poems and reminders to not name the things which dwell in the dark.
The Taint is the feature story of the volume. The Deep Ones who themselves are often fishlike monstrosities have acquired the science of genetic engineering and have learned to pass themselves off as normal men. One of their number leaves Innsmouth and has two children, one human looking and one deformed and piscine. The story is excellent.
Lord of the Worms is the story of how Titus Crow, Brian Lumley's main hero becomes a master magician and defeats a maggot infested, evil, ancient wizard.
Rising With Surtsey is the story of a man who becomes obsessed with books about old ones. He reads fiction and occult books about Cthulhu and slowly turns into one of their priests. He ends up killed by his own brother.
The final story is The House of the Temple. It is the story of an accursed family, The McGilchrist's. An inheritor goes back to destroy his old ancestral home and goes mad in the process.
This is an excellent collection of novellas. If you like horror, especially cosmic horror you will enjoy this collection. Cthulhu, an octopoid alien monstrosity features in the background of many of these stories sitting in the bottom of the ocean in sunken R'lyeh. These stories have a strong suspense element to them, they are not just go and fight the monster. They are reminders that there are things which we should not see and places and knowledge best left alone.
Bob Eggleton did the cover art for the book. He also did several small internal illustrations; most of these are about an inch and a half acros, a skull with tentactles, a winged octopuss, and a monsters eye. Bob Eggleton has an art blog here: http://bobsartdujour.blogspot.com/ / (Bob's Art of the Day)