As the title suggests what we have here is another collection of HP Lovecraft inspired tales based upon his Cthulhu mythos. Editor ST Joshi has gathered together 17 short stories by various authors and a poem by a guy nuts enough to have changed his surname to Lovecraft by deed poll.
Like most anthologies some of the stories are better than others and for me Gary Fry’s Sealed by the Moon, where a camping holiday goes really horribly wrong, was the easiest to relate to being set in the UK, but it’s probably closer to contemporary British horror writers like Ramsey Campbell than Lovecraft himself who I have to admit I’m not a diehard fan of .
Other than that I enjoyed Donald Tyson’s The Wall of Asshur-sin where an elderly Norwegian archeologist returns to a lost city in Yemen that he fled from as a youth with a mysterious amulet, that serves as a gateway to an unspecific cosmic evil, partially because it also riffed off Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Honourable mention must also go to Ann K Swader’s Night of the Piper where a mail order Native American CD and other gift warehouse serves as the cosmic terror’s gateway and Richard Gavon’s The Rasping Absence where an experimental scientist trying to capture dark particles in a mine starts having terrifying dreams while on a family holiday in the Canadian wilderness.
While Black Wings of Cthulhu 4 is a fairly decent read I did find Joshi’s anthology a little humorless compared to the Innsmouth collections edited by Stephen Jones. I think most of the authors that Joshi has selected tend to treat the Cthulu mythos a bit too reverentially whereas Jones is not afraid to occasionally choose people whose words paint with a lighter tone and even dare to be funny (though not mocking) like Kim Newman for example.
A good value collection of Lovecraftian chillers, though lacking in humour I give Black Wings of Cthulu 4 a 444/555
Black Wings of Cthulhu 4 is out now from Titan Books price £8.99 UK. $14.95 USA, $19.50 Canada