Review: The Mask of Cthulhu by August Derleth


Title The Mask of Cthulhu

Author August Derleth
Year 1958
Stand Alone (Short stories &Novellas)
Pages 204
Reading Time 8 days

Synopsis
Sheer Terror from the Gruesome Lore of Cthulhu

These are tales of horror grown from Mankind's ageless struggle between good and evil, which H.P. Lovecraft formed into his concept of the conflict between the Great Old Ones and the Ancient Ones - Hastur, Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep and other ghastly beings of the Cthulhu Mythos. August Derleth absorbed the power of Lovecraft's concept and in these stories captures the very essence of terrifying macabre dread, the palpable horror of cosmic evil perpetually poised to obliterate puny mankind...

Cover illustration: Tim White

Review
Everyone knows who is HP Lovecraft.Every one knows who is Edgar Allan Poe. Don't you? Poe and Lovecraft are the masters of horror. They are what other writers read and judge. I don't think that there aren't any like him. I enjoy reading Ligotti but he is too unknown. It's hard as hell to get a book by him. Of course Stephen King is the one who should sit nowadays at the throne vacant since Lovecraft removed Poe. But even Stephen King doesn't write the same way as Lovecraft. Even Derleth his protegĂ© and most important the creator of Arkham printing company is way out of league of Lovecraft. Maybe Edward Wagner, Bloch or Brian Lumley tried to reach for the stars but they are not Lovecraft. I have yet to read every single story by him but I know a lot about Cthulhu Mythos. 

Derleth changed a lot about what is called today Cthulhu Mythos. Damn, he created the term. Unfortunally he also created the Elder Gods who want to protect humankind. He also gave the Great Old Ones a counterpart of the Eldar Gods going further in the "Seal of R'lyeh" to compare Good and Evil, Christianity and Satanism duality. I don't think Lovecraft ever commented on that. 

They are alien beings. They are incompreensible to us. No-one can discern what are their plans or ambitions. A mind would go blank or suffer a psychic attack if he tried to compreehend Their mind. That's why many of them go insane... isn't it?

Derleth also tried to explain a lot about the Mythos destroying (in my humble opinion) what Lovecraft expected to achieve. There are 6 stories... now look at the plots and characters.

-Every single story is told in the first person point of view;
-In the first story a man inherits a house full of occult books and his curiosity made him realize the full extend of Cthulhu mythos. The same happened in the second story, the fourth, the fifth and the sixth stories;
-It's always male characters. Besides the last story and the second where woman talk on the phone constantly there aren't any woman in it.

-In the first story our main character dies (not the one telling the narrative).
-The Second story our main character goes insane
-The Third disappears (again it's not the one telling the story)
-The Fourth disappears (again it's not the one telling the story)
~The Fifth our main character goes insane
-The Sixth disappears to serve Cthulhu alongside his wife and child

The references of the books are always the same. In each story we get the mention of the same books over and over again
- Necronomicon
- De Vermis Mysteriis
- Cultes de Ghoules
- Unaussprechlichen Kulten
- Book of Eibon
- Pnakotic Manuscripts
- R'lyeh Text

And of course each tale has the most famous phrase by HP Lovecraft
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn..."
"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming..."

I would advice to anyone who wants to dwell more on the Cthulhu mythos but only after reading HP Lovecraft stories.

There is also a comic reference that Lovecraft and two other writer friends dissappeared or were killed becasue they knew too much. 7.5/10
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