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Suspicious Town: A Review of The Dunwich Horror

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 

 

Title: The Dunwich Horror

Author: H.P. Lovecraft

Publisher: Weird Tales

Publication Date: April 1929

Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Historical

Length: 58 pages

Source: I read it for free here

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Dunwich Horror is the story of Wilbur Whateley, son of a deformed albino mother and an unknown father, and the strange events surrounding his birth and precocious development. Wilbur matures at an abnormal rate, reaching manhood within a decade–all the while indoctrinated him into dark rituals and witchcraft by his grandfather.

The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft book cover. Image on cover is an abstract drawing of a white smoky blob against a black background. Review:

Content warning: Murder. I will not be discussing this in my review.

Nobody really knows what goes on behind their neighbour’s front doors.

Lovecraft had such a descriptive writing style. Whether he was telling the reader what the unwelcoming landscape looked like or exploring the hidden depths of the people whose families had lived there for generations, he knew exactly how to pull the audience in and make them listen closely to what he was saying. This is a special gift, and it’s something that leads me back to his stories over and over again even though I completely understand the many valid criticisms of his work and personal beliefs. I think there’s something to be said for acknowledging the flaws in famous creators while still leaving room to enjoy the ways they used their talents.

There were some parts of the storyline  that I struggled to understand, especially when it came to Wilbur’s origins. While I completely understood why the surrounding community wouldn’t know all of the details about his parentage, especially in an era when children born to single mothers were so heavily stigmatized, I had a ton of unanswered questions about this stuff that would have really helped me to understand later developments. Was there perhaps something lost in the nuance of it all over the last century? Is the world I grew up in too different from this one to easily make comparisons between the two? Sometimes I wondered if this was the case since the characters seemed to piece some of this stuff together in ways that I as a modern, urban reader did not. This was still an enjoyable read, but those passages did make it feel dated at times.

Small, rural communities can be pretty unwelcoming places to live, especially for anyone who stands out from the crowd due to their appearance or membership in a minority group. I liked the way the author stretched the tendencies of some members of our species to be insular and suspicious of outsiders to its limit. It truly brought out the absurdity of it all while also explaining why humans can react so harshly to people they don’t understand or relate to for any number of reasons.

I’d recommend The Dunwich Horror to anyone who is at least occasionally little disquieted by small, sleepy towns.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What Inventive Ways Do You Have to Keep Warm?

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A bowl filled with chilli I’m going to assume that everyone already knows about practical ways to stay warm like wearing multiple layers of clothing, choosing thick, warm socks, and doing something active like cleaning or exercising to get your blood pumping faster.

Eating hot, hearty meals is another trick up my sleeve on cold days. If you like and can eat spicy food, that will make it even more effective.

Filling foods that take a long time to digest really go a long way in warming someone up. This is even more true on days when you know you’ll be spending more time outside than usual. It’s much easier to brace the cold when your stomach feels like a happy little furnace that filled with fuel.

I do not know why spicy meals are even better at doing this. Maybe it’s because they make your mouth and esophagus feel extra warm while you’re eating them?

At any rate, some of my favourite things to eat on cold days are chili, stews, soups, spaghetti, and other dishes that have a nice balance of complex carbohydrates, fat, and lots of protein from meat or beans. If you pick the right ingredients, you can get at least one serving of nearly every food group in a single meal as well which is an awesome bonus.

Stay warm, friends! If you live in a part of the world that is not freezing right now, I am just a tad jealous of your balmy weather.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A cup of coffee, a dried rose, and an opened book lying on a light purple blanket. Today I’ll be grabbing some books I mentioned in various seasonal TBR topics from previous Top Ten Tuesday posts.

While I did read quite a few of the books I mentioned in those posts, I certainly did not read all of them!

Here are some of the books I’ve yet to read (or finish reading) and my reasons for not reading or finishing them yet.

Maybe this winter will be a good opportunity to dive into their stories?

 

The Salt in Our Blood  by Ava Morgyn book cover. Image on cover shows young girl holding a lantern against a stylized night sky that includes swirls of red, orange, purple, and blue.

The Salt in Our Blood  by Ava Morgyn

Why I Didn’t Read It: I didn’t have time.

 

The Conductors by Nicole Glover book cover. Image on cover shows young woman holding a lantern. There is an illustrated celestial map superimposed on the trees behind her.

The Conductors by Nicole Glover

Why I Didn’t Read It: I didn’t have time.

 

Sisters of the Neversea  by Cynthia Leitich Smith book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of three children wearing pajamas and flying in the air above their homes.

Sisters of the Neversea  by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Why I Didn’t Read It: I didn’t have time.

 

Far Out- Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy  by Paula Guran book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a magical woman in a blue dress who looks like she's doing a spell. There are twinkling lights around her.

Far Out: Recent Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy  by Paula Guran

Why I Didn’t Read It: I’m still on the library waitlist for it.

 

The Lost Girls  by Sonia Hartl book cover. Image on cover shows vampire with blood coming out of the corner of her mouth .

The Lost Girls  by Sonia Hartl

 

Why I Didn’t Read It: I’m not sure if I’m still interested in it.

 

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor book cover. Image on cover shows african woman holding her head up high.

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

 

Why I Didn’t Read It: I actually did read the first chapter! The plot was so slow that I didn’t get around to finishing it before it was due back at the library. Maybe I’l try again this winter?

 

 

Within These Wicked Walls  by Lauren Blackwood book cover. Imageon cover shows a woman's face superimposed over an imposing mansion

Within These Wicked Walls  by Lauren Blackwood

Why I Didn’t Read It: I’m still on a very long library waitlist for it.

Following the Old Ways: A Review of The White People

Vintage Science Fiction Blog Challenge badge. It shows a rocket ship against a red background. There is a bubble city in the background. Vintage Science Fiction month takes place every January, and has a few guidelines:

 – read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier

 – talk about it online sometime in January

 – have fun

If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups. 


Title
: The White People

Author: Arthur Machen

Publisher: Horlick’s Magazine

Publication Date: 1904

Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Historical

Length: 56 pages

Source: It’s free to read here

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

A discussion between two men on the nature of evil leads one of them to reveal a mysterious Green Book he possesses. It is a young girl’s diary, in which she describes in ingenuous, evocative prose her strange impressions of the countryside in which she lives as well as conversations with her nurse, who initiates her into a secret world of folklore and black magic.

Review:

Content warning: Death of a child. I will not be discussing it in my review.

Be careful what you wish for.

One of the things I liked the most about this short story was the scientific and methodical manner in which the two main characters went about trying to determine what the Green Book truly was and what happened to the young girl whose diary entries lead them to discover the existence of this book. They were truly interested in getting to the truth. While some portions of the storyline definitely veered further into horror and fantasy than they did pure science fiction, the fact that the protagonists believed everything should have a logical explanation kept me reading until I’d reached the final sentence. That urge to discover the truth is one of the reasons why I love science fiction so much!

This was set at a time when scientific explanations for all sorts of natural phenomena were rapidly beginning to replace the fairy and folk tales that had once explained any number of things that wouldn’t have made sense to the average person. There are some things that lay beyond the purview of science, however, and other ones like psychology or what could be interpreted as certain mental or physical illnesses by modern day readers that weren’t well understood at all in this era.

The epilogue was my favourite part of this tale due to how much effort Ambrose and Cotgrave put into deciphering the unnamed young girl’s diary. She was so purposefully vague about certain details that they could be interpreted in a wide variety of ways as I mentioned earlier. This was also a nice addendum to the conversation Cotgrave and Ambrose had earlier about what the definition of sin should actually be and why many people’s understanding of this topic might not be as well-rounded or accurate as they assume. I can’t go into any more detail about that, but I do encourage anyone who is intrigued to read this for themselves.

If you love the fuzzy area between facts and flights of fancy, The White People might be right up your alley.