Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth is the third anthology of short stories inspired by HP Lovecraft’s novella The Shadow over Innsmouth, collected by Hothouse pal Stephen Jones.
Within there are 17 tales of terror featuring the fishy acolytes of Dagon from Lovecraft’s little town on the Massachusetts coast that was so comprehensively trashed by the FBI and the US Navy in February 1928.
There are two works by the master himself The Port and Innsmouth Clay, which was completed after Lovecraft’s death by his disciple August Derleth together and a few fairly straight (well as straight as weird fiction can get) pastiches by the likes of Caitlin R Kiernan and Angela Slatter for Lovecraft purists to enjoy. There are also some dependably traditional migrations from Innsmouth to the UK by the likes of Ramsey Campbell and Simon Kurt Unsworth, but what really drew me into the collection were the stories where the authors went well and truly off-piste.
Top amongst them were Kim Newman’s Richard Riddle Boy Detective in ‘The Case of the French Spy’ where the titular hero and his gang investigate what they imagine to be a group of smugglers or spies holed up in old Orris Priory in the English coastal town of Lyme Regis and discover something far more sinister. With dark secret tunnels and codes it’s an affectionate mash-up of Lovecraft with elements inspired by Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and Erich Kastner’s Emil and the Detectives and very funny.
I also really enjoyed Reggie Oliver’s The Archbishop’s Well where the Lovecraft mythos is inserted into an MR James style supernatural story that’s also populated with PG Wodehouse inspired characters (HP, MR AND PG is there a pattern here?) and Adrian Cole’s You Don’t Want to Know, a touch of Dashiell Hammett style noir where a hard-boiled private-dick Nick Stone finds he’s not the only person searching for the mysterious Mr Zeitsheim.
It’s fair to say that I enjoyed this third volume, that was very kindly supplied by Titan Books, so much I actually went out and bought the other two previously published titles; Shadows over Innsmouth and Weird Shadows over Innsmouth with real money. I give Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth a big 666/666.
Weirder Shadows over Innsmouth was published by Titan Books on 30 January price £8.99