Collections of short fiction based on the Cthulhu Mythos never get old
but they can be predictable. Editor Ellen Datlow attempts to spice up
the idea by featuring stories based on the monsters of H. P. Lovecraft's
weird and twisted mind. Even the ardent Lovecraft fan may go mad trying
to place some of the creatures, so Datlow added a neat Monster Index to
keep you up on the creepies you will meet. The fiction itself tends to
be uneven but there are enough gems to keep you reading. Neil Gaiman's
"Only the End of the World Again" starts the collection and has the
achievement of shining above most of the stories. It's hard to not like a
story that brings Larry Talbot and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos together.
If you don't know who Larry Talbot is, you are not much of a horror
fan. Another good mash-up, "Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole by
Howard Waldrop and Steven Utley, brings Mary Shelly and Lovecraft
together with the hollow world theory. I haven't seen one of Howard
Waldrop's speculative mini-masterpieces for ages. It isn't "The Ugly
Chickens" but it is still really entertaining. The third "don't miss"
story is by the always dependable Joe R. Lansdale who gives "The
Bleeding Shadows" a bluesy East Texas drawl. Steve Rasnic Tem's "Waiting
at the Crossroads Motel" qualifies as one of the creepiest of the
bunch. The rest range from very good to passable but none are out of
place in this Lovecraft Tribute. A strong three and a half stars.