Black Wings of Cthulhu 4 by ST Joshi

9/10 Strange, eerie and need the light on to be read

Seventeen more tales of the unsettling and darkly Gothic, inspired by the works of writer H.P. Lovecraft. As the title suggests, anyone who is interested in this kind of literature, knows what it is like to feel dread in everyday life. Readers of other anthologies from Titan Books will recognise the names of Cody Goodfellow, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Darrell Schweitzer, Fred Chappell and Melanie Tem. Special attention is also given to Charles Lovecraft, an Australian writer who changed his surname to that of the original Cthulhu author.

Lovecraft is one of the authors most horror writers cite as being an inspiration to them for creating their own stories , even their novels. In Black Wings of Cthulhu Vol 4, editor S.T. Joshi takes us through why the previous books have been so successful and also what has brought the same authors back to write more dark tales of horror and loathing based on Lovecraft's Cthulhu and his many monsters. There is also another series readers might be interested to read as it is in its second anthology, The Madness of Cthulhu. That the Cthulhu Mythos is vast and can be worked into many genres is evident in this anthology as is the character's quest for knowledge in many of them that all too soon goes wrong.

In A Prism of Darkness by Darrell Schweitzer, Dr. John Dee is busy translating old Greek scriptures from the Necronomicon and gets visited by a spirit who offers him a real glimpse of what he has only seen in books. As a scryer for Queen Elizabeth 1st, his role is not always a pleasant one, but for the most part, he has served his queen well, and for a man who is about to die, Dee sees the spirit's offer as one he can freely accept without regret. Schweitzer gets the feel of Lovecraft's oddness here with also a sense of a period in history where Lovecraft's monsters would have held sway. Trophy by Melanie Tem introduces readers to Nolan, a man who thinks he has been impregnated by an alien being. People visit him, some are strange, Goons, while others he likes, Goonettes, but still think it is odd for him to see people coming and going from his apartment whenever they like. Tem keeps readers guessing whether or not this is true or this activity is going on in Nolan's mind. Trophy is gory and full of awful imagery, perfect for Cthulhu readers the world over. The Dark Seen Within by Jason Brock is a story made up of daily entries, starting with Christmas Eve. David has an obsession with getting rich quick and takes his girlfriend Delia into the world of art where he intends to obtain paintings and sell them for a hefty price, though if he sells to the wrong person, he might come unstuck. David's go-getting spirit is one of Brock's main traits for his character, Delia acts as his innocent other half, unaware of what might happen as a result of her lover's shady business deals.

Black Wings of Cthulhu 4 has some of the best authors working on it, but there aren't only stories in here, there is a poem from Charles Lovecraft, a writer who changed his name legally to his favourite writer's in homage. Every writer, from Richard Gavin to John Relan and Stephen Mark Rainey, manages to write their own version of Lovecraft's weird settings as he did, yet some are more modern. In here there are several explorers who want to find the artefact that will bring them great knowledge or wealth and the reason for it in Lovecraft's work usually equals the person's obsession with it; Melanie Tem's Trophy, Donald Tyson's The Walls of Ashur-Sin and Fred Chappel's Artifact have characters who discover much more than they expect, not all of it good. For those who are well acquainted with the Cthulhu mythos, and of Lovecraft's monsters, Nyarlathotep features in quite a lot of them, and while others are only based around the thought of the old ones, they are still strange, eerie and need the light on to be read.

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