Book review: Haggopian And Other Stories

Brian Lumley’s Haggopian And Other Stories.

Author: Brian Lumley
Publisher: Solaris

At over 600 pages, Haggopian And Other Stories is a generous collection of Cthulhu mythos tales from British horror writer Brian Lumley (famous for his Necroscope horror series), and one that should leave the author’s fans and general horror aficionados pretty satisfied with its deep, dark stories.

But anyone who knows the Cthulhu mythos will be familiar with the divide between the purists, who prefer creator HP Lovecraft’s original ‘nebulous horror’ and those who enjoy the more defined, extended pantheon of Dark and Elder Gods that followed under publisher August Derleth. Lumley’s work here falls firmly into the latter category and as a result this collection may only appeal to certain kinds of Lovecraft fans. It’s a shame, but there are many purists who won’t read this on principle, and they’ll be missing a treat.

This collection spans the greater part of Lumley’s career, and what makes Haggopian so engaging is the scope with which the author writes within the bounds of the mythos, touching upon various elements of fantasy, occult adventure and pure horror. And the further he strays from the Lovecraft model, the better it gets. From adventure-like stories featuring his occult detective and white wizard Titus Crow, almost Robert E Howard-style yarns based in pre-history like ‘Curse Of The Golden Guardians’ through to more traditional Cthulhu-esque fare of the titular ‘Haggopian’, it all puts a varied and interesting spin on Lovecraft’s vision.

What might be a problem for some Lovecraft fans is that he often makes the mythos something that human agency can combat, albeit mostly on a small scale. But it’s arguable that’s also his strongest asset, as humanising the conflict and setting stories in the far-flung past or the present/near future, as he does with ‘The Hymn’ (examining scientific exploration of the mythos) give his stories a more engaging human context. And Lumley is so adept at a variety of writing styles that it’s hard not to want to read ‘just one more’.

[isbn name=”Haggopian And Other Stories”]978-1844167623[/isbn]