5 Lovecraft Short Stories That Aren’t Just Cosmic Horror

In light of the anniversary of H. P. Lovecraft’s death, let’s take a look at some of his lesser known works from outside of the Cthulhu Mythos and cosmic horror.

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Though he is most well known for being the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos and one of the biggest names in the realm of weird fiction, H.P. Lovecraft wrote far more than just the odd tentacle-filled horror story. Besides creating a whole universe of cosmic horror, Lovecraft also wrote numerous horror shorts with chilling plot lines. In memory of Lovecraft’s death anniversary today, let’s take a look at five of the author’s lesser-known short stories.

Pickman’s Model

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The story’s focus, Richard Upton Pickman, is an artist in the Boston area whose paintings have grown so graphic that he has been thrown out of the Boston Art Club. Despite the fact that his work creates stunning visuals, the horrifying images he produces have made others label him as a lunatic.

When his friend and narrator come to visit the recluse in his studio, he is given a personal tour that delves deeper and deeper into Pickman’s unnerving artwork. The tale ends with uncertainty after the narrator is shown Pickman’s latest creation, a deranged humanoid with canine-like features eating a human victim, and discovers through a small photo attached to the canvas, that Pickman’s creations are no mere fantasy, but very real monsters.

The Cats of Ulthar

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In the first line of the story the reader is given the warning, Ulthar “no man may kill a cat.” As strange of law as it may seem, the story soon unfolds of how a long time ago, a cruel old man and his wife who took pleasure in killing the villager’s cats once lived in the village. During this time, a party of travelers came through the village, including an orphaned boy and his kitten. Later in the story when the boy’s kitten goes missing and the disappearance is blamed on the old man and his wife, the young boy prays causing the clouds to darken with classic ominousness.

After the travelers leave, the rest of the cats in the village mysteriously disappear, just to reappear happy and healthy, only now it is the cat killing the old man and his wife who are missing. When the villagers go to their homes, they find nothing but a pair of clean skeletons, which provokes the leaders to pass their unusual law.

The Moon-Bog

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In “The Moon-Bog” we get much more of a ghost story than most of Lovecraft’s works. While trying to reclaim his ancestral land in Ireland, Denys Barry buys back the family land and castle and, as any American naturally would, decides to drain the nearby bog as he views it as “wasted space.” Even when the nearby villagers warn him not to and leave upon his decision, he still drains the bog with dire consequences of the bog-wraiths coming to rise and take revenge for what has been done to their land. In classic Lovecraft style, the protagonist Denys Barry is left likely dead, and the narrator leaves the castle half-mad from what he has seen.

Cool Air

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Inspiring a movie adaption as well as being adapted into a comic format, “Cool Air” is the story of a reclusive doctor who remains isolated in his apartment, which he keeps chilled to extremely low temperatures. When the narrator of the story is struck with a heart attack, he goes to his upstairs neighbor for help, knowing the man is a doctor. Upon being saved he grows intrigued by the strange doctor’s need to be cold and helps him in his eccentric necessities.

When one of the air pumps in the doctor’s apartment breaks, however, the doctor’s life becomes endangered and the narrator is unable to save him. In his demise the doctor decomposes into nothingness, and only leaves behind a letter for the narrator, explaining that he died 18 years ago, and it was the cold that kept him preserved for all that time.

Herbert West – Reanimator

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The only short story on the list to have been adapted into a trilogy of cult classic horror films, the titular Herbert West of the story is a mad scientist of sorts set on finding a way to reanimate dead human tissue. One of Lovecraft’s very few straight-up zombie stories, “Reanimator” tells his tale in six parts, from his creation of the “reagent” solution that resurrects the dead to his ultimate demise at the hands of his creations.

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