Weird Shadows over Innsmouth by Stephen Jones

Rating 9.0/10
All eleven stories were of a high quality.

Respected horror anthologist Stephen Jones edits this collection of twelve stories by some of the worlds most prominent Lovecraftian authors, including H.P Lovecraft himself, Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman, Michael Marshall Smith, John Glasby, Paul McAuley, Steve Rasnic Tem, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Brian Lumley, Basil Copper, Hugh B. Cave, and Richard Lupoff.

This is a follow up to Shadows Over Innsmouth and is once again edited by Stephen Jones. With new short stories by various authors based either around the original story of Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft or following the mythos to other places around the world at various times in the years after 1929. I think that this surprisingly might also be a good anthology to read even if you have never read anything by H. P. Lovecraft, although if you haven’t read The Shadow over Innsmouth the anthology may just inspire you to pick the original up to see how other people’s ideas on his story overlap or are inspired by his original story.

Weird Shadows over Innsmouth only has a discarded draft of the original story which gives you a good idea of what you can expect in terms of the building of suspense during the snippets included. The stories that follow are each very different in writing style but give you a good idea of each author's writing, and like all good anthologies should do it makes you want to look into what else they have written.

I found that all eleven stories were of a high quality and filled in gaps of the mythos or expanded them in ways that even Lovecraft may not have imagined, with stories being set in London, the Californian desert and - slightly more obvious - the coast of Cornwall. Innsmouth itself is home to The Deep Ones, beings who are neither man or fish, worshippers of the god Dagon and most of these stories have some affinity with the sea, which makes for some very interesting stories when some of these authors veer off from this angle.

My favourite stories in this collection:

  • Voices in the Water by Basil Cooper. Set in a small village in Sussex the story focuses on Roberts, an artist who has just moved into a renovated mill for the relative peacefulness that he would need for his artwork, but is it the solitude or something else that is making his retreat so haunting?
  • Another Fish Story by Kim Newman, a man is moving through the 60’s enjoying the changing times, is he more than he seems and if so what is he searching for in the desert? And are a group of misfits helping him to find what he is searching for or are bigger games afoot?
  • The last story I want to mention is The Taint by Brian Lumley, which although set decades after Innsmouth is linked in a very clever way back to the original story, even though this story is set in a small village with a cast of characters who have many secrets to hide or is it just the usual village gossip that you would expect when everyone knows everyone else’s business?

The other stories here were also of a very high standard, which I can only hope would be the case for all anthologies in any genre. I am impressed by the level and thought that has gone into this selection and will look into more anthologies collated by Stephen Jones.

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