This week, I had the privilege of giving a talk about H.P Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien at Taylor University.
It turned out to be a success, and one person commented afterward that they really wanted to start reading H.P. Lovecraft's stories.
Since Lovecraft's stories can be a little hard to get into at first, here's my list of six H.P. Lovecraft stories that should serve as a good introduction.
For those of you who prefer listening to reading, I've attached links to audiobooks based on each story (including a recent adaptation of "Dagon" by Tall Tale TV, which recently adapted one of my stories).
Lovecraft ghost-wrote this story for Hazel Heald, which probably means she came up with the story plot and he rewrote everything.
This story follows a man who discovers a house of wax figurines with many bizarre nightmarish displays.
The museum owner claims these displays aren't figurines at all.
You've probably heard some version of this plot before.
However, that's precisely what makes it a good introduction.
You see Lovecraft take a plot various other horror writers have used, and watch how he takes that in a strange, different direction than everyone else does.
Stranger than the previous story but still in mildly familiar territory, "The Hound" takes you a bit further into the distinct brand Lovecraft built for himself.
In this story, two graverobbers unearth a coffin in which they find a corpse wearing a strange amulet.
Unfortunately, they discover, in perhaps the worst way possible, that there consequences to disrespecting the dead.
Once you've gotten used to Lovecraft's particular writing style, "Dagon" introduces you to the particular themes that populate Lovecraft's best work.
In this story (often considered the first in the stories series that makes up the Cthulhu Mythos), a shipwrecked sailor lands on a strange island where he finds hints of a long-dead civilization.
Certain hints the sailor finds turn out to be about things best left unknown.
This story, certainly Lovecraft's best-known work, takes you all the way into the Cthulhu Mythos and Lovecraft's unusual style.
Here, a man investigates the paper of his deceased grand uncle and discovers his uncle was researching an obscure cult which worshipped a monstrous god.
The more he learns, the deeper he feels himself falling into a strange world he may not escape from.
This is certainly the longest story on this list.
In "The Mound," an ethnologist investigates a strange (possibly man-made) hill in Oklahoma, one which the locals claim is haunted by spirits.
His research leads him deep into the kind of strange world you experience in stories like "The Call of Cthulhu," but describes a larger, more detailed history.
As a result, it carries you a step further into Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
If "The Call of Cthulhu" sums up Lovecraft's themes best and "The Mound" takes those same ideas in a more detailed context, "The Dunwich Horror" goes further than either in terms of shock value.
In this story, a woman in a family known for their occult history gives birth to a strange child.
In fact, the more you hear about the child and his unsavory family, the more you suspect he's not entirely human.