Necronomicon, by H.P. LovecraftI’m going to start this on a good point, go through a couple of points that I didn’t think were too good, and then end with a few more good points.
I really liked this. As a compendium of short stories, each eerie and sinister, it was a fantastic listen, and it often made me stop mid-workout and ponder whether there’s more to the world than we can see, and unknown methods of reaching other realms where unseen beings and such flit about, and plan our demise. It’s certainly preferable to the knowledge that it’s just human wankers out there trying to kill each other.
A friend of mine John Reppion (part of the author and comic writing couple with Leah Moore – website here) suggested a couple of his favourite Lovecraft tales, and I was lucky enough to find that one of them, The Rats in the Walls, was in this 21 hour audiobook. Each tale has some some element of black magic, or sinister dark arts and is a fascinating first person tale.
I’ve often had issue with first person stories, in that I can’t read them (bear in mind I’ve just started trying to write one, the second drafts of which can be found here: Jonulsburg). I find that when reading, I start thinking ‘I didn’t do that’ because I’m reading the I as me. Make sense? No, it doesn’t to me either, but regardless of sense or nonsense, I don’t read first person stories – this possibly shows in the one I’m writing… This leads me on to the main thing I loved about it being an audiobook; it was someone telling me a tale in the first person, so the narrator was instantly telling me what had happened to them.
While each narrator takes a few different stories, there was one, who’s name escapes me, who sounded wholly bored when he was reading them, and I found them far less interesting than the rest of the narrators, who seemed a lot more into the stories, and the character therein. One in particular, really suited the style of the stories, and made them a pleasure, albeit a hideous and unnerving pleasure (like a McDonalds burger), and I was pleased every time his determined tones filled my ears.
Downsides. For me, half the joy of reading a book is finding out what happened, and sadly, a lot of the tales more or less announced what was going to happen over the course of the story. The stories start well, but then sometimes there will be a kind of ‘Me and Dr Evil had always had an interest in the occult, and it is through those interests I write this now, as Dr Evil is no longer able to*. We first heard about the house on You’regoingtodie Street**, through a mutual friend***, who had spent his share of time in the libraries, reading similar dark texts as ourselves. It is the horrors of what happened**** which I shall try to relate to you here.’
* Dr Evil is now either dead, dying, mad.
** Sinister location is explained as being sinister, and proves to be more sinister.
*** Mutual friend is evil and wants to kill either/both of them.
**** The story has horrors in it, which take place in the house, are related to the mutual friend and result in the death/wounding/craziness of Dr Evil.
Once I cottoned on to the way a lot of them were written, I started seeing a pattern, and it did irk me that I suspected the plots from the first few minutes. HOWEVER, they were still a really enjoyable listen, and I can’t say that I disliked any of them, though some were clearly better than others, the Dunwich Horror being a favourite, as the narrator even did different accents which added to the overall feel of the tale. Hideous, sinister, and ace.
The only other thing that I didn’t like, was what I consider to be cop outs of description. The amount of times I heard something along the lines of things being ‘wholly indescribable’ or ‘beyond imagination’ (not the actual terms, but along those lines) to me are a total cop out. I suspect, if I handed in a piece of coursework with lines like that, I’d have my work rolled up, jammed up my backside and set on fire. While I know and understand that he’s talking about otherworldly places we can’t imagine, I was relying on him to give me a little more than he did, and it sometimes led to disappointment, when, in other instances, he gave stunning descriptions of the totally crazy stuff.
All in all, I really liked it though, and have since downloaded Dreams of Terror and Death, which are equally good. I think I’d prefer the audio to the written version, although the books look excellent, and I suspect they’ll be gracing my bookcases soon enough.
Another thing of note, was the story, which I already have, which was narrated by Doug Bradley of Pinhead fame (from Doug Bradley’s Spine Chillers – he reads as sinisterly as he plays Pinhead). Now it’s not him on there I don’t think, but the story is the same, and I recognised it immediately. The Outsider, great on here and also on Bradley’s Spinechillers.
All in all though, a worthwhile download, some superb stories, sinister places, and tentacles from indescribable places. Top stuff.