Monday, October 10, 2011

Lumley Tackles Lovecraft!

I, like about eight million other people, was introduced to writer Brian Lumley through his Necroscope book.  I have fond memories of that book.  I had just come out to California to make my home, and that is the book I read while waiting to fall asleep in a sleazy motel room.  I picked up the rest of the books as they came out.  I also kept an eye out for the author's other works.  Imagine my surprise a few years ago when I found The Burrowers Beneath, which is Lumley mucking around in the world H.P. Lovecraft, a favorite of mine, created.    

DAW Books published this in 1974, the year Carrie came out and the year Rubik's cube was invented.  West Germany was hosting the World Cup, and a young (presumably) man name Ward D. Griffiths bought, at a mere .95 cents, #91 in DAW Books SF series.  I assume Griffiths was the original purchaser of my copy of the book, as his name is scrawled on the inside in ink.  The signature is in trembling cursive, indicating that the signee was either old or had just graduated from block letters.  When he would've turned the page he would have found himself greeted with a slightly cartoon-like drawing of Cthulhu acting as a bookend.
I have no idea of what Griffiths thought of the book, or even if he finished it.  Lovecraft's original fiction is terrifying stuff, and the writers who dabble in his universe are often equally unnerving.  He may have made it to the chapter titled "Cement Surroundings" and stopped when he read, "What of the indescribable droning chant which I often heard issuing from Sir Amery's room in the dead of night?"  Lumley, like the man who influenced this book, knew that when writing in Lovecraft's world it is the unknown and unseen that is the most frightening.  Like many of the other writers who have fashioned similar works, Lumley seems to delight in hinting at the things behind closed doors (or in this case, under the earth).  It works, despite the bombastic tagline on the book's cover ("The Earth's original rulers are waking!").

It's been a few years since I've read the book.  As someone who enjoys Lovecraft and the writers inspired by him, I can say with certainity that Lumley's book will be kept on my shelf to pass down to my daughter once the Elder Gods come to eat my soul.  I don't know if she'll find the novel as gripping as I did, but there are enough of my personality traits in her that I somehow can't help but think that at some point in her life she is going to turn to Lovecraft and those stories inspired by his imagination and maybe shudder a bit more than usual on some rainy, windy night, much like I envision Griffiths, he of the trembling hand. 

I have quite a few Lovecraft books in my collection, and I have several others inspired by him.  The Burrowers Beneath is one of the ones that stays fairly true to the horror legend.  It feels just as timeless as Lovecraft's work, and a hundred years from now when people are still studying and discussing the master, Lumley's book will come up in conversation.  Unearthly things never seem to die, do they?

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this book and was not given a review copy.  If you feel bold enough to click on a link, I may earn a commission.

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