Short Stories Challenge – The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Published October 1, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s The Whisperer In Darkness all about?:

The Whisperer In Darkness tells of some strange, other-worldly creatures that wreak havoc with the mental states of one male resident in Vermont and what appears to be his only ally.

What did I think?:

The premise of The Whisperer in Darkness is similar to previous stories I have read in this collection and although it had a few eerie moments and glimmers of promise, I wasn’t completely blown away. Furthermore, it felt quite long for a short story which started to make the process of reading it a bit too laborious and not as fun as I would have hoped. This particular story is set in Vermont and is narrated by university lecturer Albert Wilmarth who also has a passion for unusual superstitions and ancient folklore. After some unprecedented adverse weather in Vermont that year, floods swamp the area and stories keep surfacing of strange “things,” noticed in the flood waters. Arthur goes on to tell us that these creatures are hard to describe but have the appearance of something crab-like with a multitude of legs and huge bat-like wings on their backs (which unfortunately I found a bit funny rather than scary).

Albert is intrigued but very sceptical and contacts one of the current residents in the area, Henry Akeley to see if he can provide more information. Luckily (or unluckily) for our narrator, Henry is somewhat of the expert, telling him that the creatures are of another world (yes, that bit is kind of obvious!) and usually live in the hills, not usually bothering too much with humans as long as they are not encroaching on their territory. He sends Albert photographs of evidence he has collected to prove the creatures’ existence which consists of strange claw-like marks in the ground, an ancient stone with hieroglyphics and provides a sound recording of the creatures attempting to make human speech which is quite a good effort but with a background buzzing noise as they whisper to those walking in the forest. Okay, that’s kind of creepy I give you that Mr Lovecraft!

As Akeley and Wilbarton continue to communicate, the creatures don’t like it too much and their letters to each other “disappear.” Akeley is becoming increasingly paranoid that the beasts are out to get him and his dogs bark nightly for what seems like no reason yet in the morning, the strange claw marks are evident on his property. Wilbarton decides to go up and visit him in person to solve this mystery once and for all but what he experiences there can only be described as his worst ever nightmare with an ending and powerful final line that almost redeems the whole story.

So yes, there were eerie parts to the story but overall it didn’t thrill me too much. I don’t know if I’m getting bored of the same concept i.e. intelligent narrator visits small town which is dominated by alien-like beings. The only thing that really made we shiver were the buzzing narration as the creatures whispered to people walking through the forest. I read a post recently on Fiction Fan’s blog about the author’s over-blown use of adjectives and it really made me chuckle. In this story we have another classic example that I’m sure she will appreciate:

“Where Akeley had given only outlines before, he now entered into minute details, presenting long transcripts of words overheard in the woods at night, long accounts of monstrous pinkish forms spied in thickets at twilight on the hills, and a terrible cosmic narrative derived from the application of profound and varied scholarship to the endless bygone discourses of the mad self-styled spy who had killed himself.”

Phew! I don’t know about you but I’m worn out just reading that! So yes, not the best short story in this collection so far but here’s hoping I get a good one next time round.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: The Rat In The Attic by Brian McGilloway from the collection The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7


3 comments on “Short Stories Challenge – The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

  • But I bet it was blasphemously, hellishly loathsome!! 😉 Thanks for the link! Yeah, I’m afraid by the time he’d got to this stage he kinda loses me too – too long and rambling and, like you, I tend to find the hideously horrifyingly hellish creatures funny rather than scary. My personal favourites are the fish-frog creatures of Innsmouth. I see he’s also used one of his other great techniques – to describe things as indescribable. Cheating!! Still keep finding myself reading him though… 🙂

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