The Children of Cthulhu

What if you received a card announcing that Mr. E. A. Poe was going to pay you a visit? Do you write it off as a gag, or do you prepare for the visitation? What if an elderly woman self-confined to a deliberately darkened apartment began warning you against imagining shapes in clouds? What happens if those “shapes” look back?

These are just two of the premises in this interesting and mostly enjoyable collection of modern spins on the concepts of ‘20s and ‘30s pulp horror author H. P. Lovecraft. Editors John Pelan and Benjamin Adams approached 20 genre writers, assigning each the task of bringing Lovecraft’s ideas into the 21st century. James Robert Smith’s “Visitation” and China Miéville’s “Details” are two of the strongest offerings (their basic plots are suggested above).

One of the weakest, however, is "punk" horror writer Poppy Z. Brite’s "Are You Loathsome Tonight?"—a stumbling attempt to draw terror from the bloated fate of Elvis Presley, concluding with a flimsily utilized quote from Lovecraft’s treatise "Supernatural Horror in Literature." Even so, most of the tales here are imaginative, entertaining and often goosebump inducing.