Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Shadow Over Innsmouth
by H.P. Lovecraft

My Blurb:
A young man on a sight-seeing vacation chances upon a strange seaside community in 1920s Massachusetts.  Innsmouth, as it's called, has rather a sinister reputation, locally, and our narrator is about to find out why...

My Reaction:
This was my first time reading H.P. Lovecraft.  I remember one of my high school friends reading something of his and recommending it, though, and then Donald read this one and suggested it...   So I gave it a try, too, and yes, I found the story interesting.  Based on this, I may read more, at some point.

It's been a week or two since I read the novella, but I didn't feel like bothering with blogs while on vacation, so I'm just getting around to this now.  As a result, my reactions are a bit dim.  (Memory like a steel trap?  Not for some a great many things, apparently...)  I rely on a few random notes for the rest of my "review".

Spoilery Random Notes:
-- "'I guess they're what they call "white trash" down South-- lawless and sly, and full of secret things.'" I hadn't realized that term had been around so long.  Now I wonder when exactly it did originate...

--  At some point, at least parts of what was happening in Innsmouth became clear-- as must have been intentional.  The bus driver has "odd, deep creases in the side of his neck", for example, and I made a note-- "Gills, perhaps?"... Then there's a longer physical description of the man-- "narrow head, bulging watery-blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly undeveloped ears... long thick lip and coarse-pored, greyish cheeks seemed almost beardless".  My note: "Yep.  Dude's a fish."  ...And so he was.  ;o) Well.  Sort of.

--  Of the bus driver's skin:  " places the surface seemed queerly irregular, as if peeling from some cutaneous disease."  Aw, the poor guy's got ick.

--  A bit odd that the "charm" stones are marked with "somethin' on 'em like what ye call a swastika nowadays".  Yes, I know the symbol has been around a long time, etc., etc.  But still.

--  "A wave of almost abnormal horror swept over me..."  Well, sir, can I trouble you to tell me what degree of horror is normal, then?

--  One complaint-- There were an awful lot of maplike details, attention to road names and intersections, etc.  That sort of thing is always hard for me to visualize.  I don't even bother trying, honestly, unless I get the impression that it's critical to the plot.  Maybe that's a "woman thing", but I tend to have a decent sense of direction and good spatial reasoning... so I suspect that it's mostly just boring writing.

-- My big question:  If the narrator is now turning into a fish-frog-man and is starting to think longingly of going out to sea... If he thinks it's so great, now, why did he write of his earlier experiences with horror and disgust?  Or are we to assume that he's written it over a period of time and has only recently begun to undergo a mental change?  (I can't recall if there's any indication of how long the writing has taken him...)  Anyway, it seemed strange that he'd be rational (well...) throughout the whole thing, then suddenly in the last paragraph or two go, "Oh, what the heck!  Everybody into the pool and all hail cthulhu!"

-- I got my free copy of this e-book from  It was free, so I shouldn't complain, but there were quite a few typos.  Be prepared to do a little deciphering.