Cthulhu and Other Monsters
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Sam Stone is one of my all-time favorites. Not only as an author, but as a person, because she’s a class act. Also, full disclosure time: some of these stories have appeared in anthologies I have edited. But then so have a lot of people, and I’m not here talking about them or their latest collection right now, I’m talking about Sam. She is an author that can start off with something sweet, funny, and full of light, and then on a dime turn to the dark and nasty like no one’s business. She’s deceptive like that. Her characters are fully formed and fleshed out, so when bad things start happening to them, or they start to do bad things, you have an honest emotional connection and reaction. So please take this as someone who has been aware of Ms. Stone’s considerable writing talents for a while, trying to do you a solid favor and point out one of the best writers in the game you might be missing out on. So yeah, I am a fan, and if you want the tl;dr version of this review, here it is: get this book, it is a slice of pure awesome.
Still here? Okay, here’s my slightly more in-depth review of Cthulhu and Other Monsters, the latest creepy collection of horror stories from Sam Stone. As the title suggests, this book collects some of Ms. Stone’s Lovecraftian horror stores in the first half of the book, appropriately titled “Cthulhu Tales.” There are nine such stories here, and no, not all of them are actually about H.P. Lovecraft’s most (in)famous creation, the big green machine of madness and death, Cthulhu. But they all do fall into the subgenre most commonly called the Cthulhu Mythos.
The second half of the book is the “Other Monsters” part, and here you will find seven non-Cthulhu Mythos-inspired tales of horror. This split works out well since the one thing all stories in this book still have in common is Sam’s ability to tell great tales that can reach into a reader’s soul and chill them from the inside out. So both fans of the weird world that Lovecraft gave to us, or those who have never read anything like that before but still love stories about the haunting and the horrific will have good things to find here. And hopefully if a reader comes for one half, they will end up staying for and enjoying the other. I loved this book as a whole, and while there wasn’t a weak tale in the lot, examples of best in the book came from both sides of that Cthulhu fence. That’s saying something coming from someone who loves Lovecraftian horror as much as I do.
Lest you think that this is a standard reprint collection, six of the sixteen stories collected here are brand new, never before published, and some of those that have seen the light of day before are now hard to find. So for rarity and collectability this book gets high marks. Add in the fact that the stories are stellar and they run the gambit from cosmic horror to more traditional tales of terror, and you have yourself one well-rounded winner. So yeah, I like me some Sam Stone stories, and I like me this book. Consider it well recommended.