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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Our Finest Fantasists,
This review is from: Mysteries of the Worm: Early Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) (Paperback)Robert Bloch wrote some of the finest weird fiction of all time, and some of his rarest gems are published in this collection. I am reviewing the new and expanded third edition, published in 2009. This edition includes a new preface by editor Robert M. Price, and four additional tales that were not included in the first two editions: "The Opener of the Way," "The Eyes of the Mummy," "Black Bargain," and "Philtre Tip." The wee preface is followed by a marvelous essay entitled "About DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS." Herein, Bob Price give us an account of Bloch's creation of this tome and his use of it in his horror fiction. Bloch invented two eldritch grimoires, this one and CULTES DES GOULES; I enjoy referring to them more and more in my own weird fiction, rather than the over-used NECRONOMICON of Lovecraft's Mythos. Lovecraft, indeed, had a hand in Bloch's tome, as is related by editor Price:
"Bloch had originally titled the nefarious work simply mysteries MYSTERIES OF THE WORM, but Lovecraft advised him to spruce it up with a little erudition. 'If Prinn's immortal work is in Latin, you ought to give the title in that language -- hence my change in two places (in yr ms.) to DE VERMIS MYSTERIIES (concerning/of the worm/the mysteries).' (January 25, 1935, SELECTED LETTERS V, page 88)"
It was, of course, H. P. Lovecraft who influenced Robert Bloch to begin to write weird fiction, when Bloch began to correspond with HPL while still a teenager. Some of those very early tales, written under the guidance of Lovecraft and first published in WEIRD TALES, may be found in this collection. Each story is introduced with a page of comment by Bob Price, in which he discusses points in the story (but never plot)and the tale's history. These introductory notes are always fascinating. The opening lines reveal that this tale was written by a very young Bloch, heavily under the Gothic influence of his Muse: "The wind howled strangely over a midnight tomb. The moon hung like a golden bat over ancient graves, glaring through the wan mist with its baleful, nyctaloptic eye." "Nyctaloptic eye" seems rather nice to me. Lovecraft's advise, after reading such passages when Bloch sent him the unpublished manuscripts, was that more may be accomplished by not laying on the atmosphere so heavily. Later on Bob became more playful, even inventing one priest of Bast, "...the mad Luveh-Keraph..."
The early tale "The Shambler from the Stars" indicates that young Bloch understood that Lovecraft's major beasties were cosmic, and he wanted to pay tribute to Lovecraft in this tale by "killing him off" -- basing a character on him that was described as "...a mystic dreamer in New England." The editor of WEIRD TALES said he couldn't use the story because the character was so obviously Lovecraft -- and so Bloch got written permission from Lovecraft to base the character on him. When the tale was published in WEIRD TALES many readers recognized the character as HPL, and one letter-writer suggested that Lovecraft should return the favour and dedicate a story to Bloch. The story that Lovecraft wrote and dedicated to Robert Bloch, "The Haunter of the Dark," was Lovecraft's last piece of original fiction. Years later Bloch wrote a sequel to Lovecraft's story, "The Shadow from the Steeple," and it is my favourite Mythos tale written by someone other than Lovecraft. Derleth delightfully published the three stories as a sequence in his magnificent TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS.
Early as many of these tales are, they shew Bob's early talent, which grew and grew until he was a master of the form. Some of these stories are classics of their kinds, such as "The Faceless God," "The Mannikin," and "Notebook Found in a Deserted House." The book concludes with an afterword by Bloch himself, and a wee essay by Lin Carter. I am presently writing a collection of Mythos tales, all of which are inspired in some fashion by the fiction of Robert Bloch; for such a project, MYSTERIES OF THE WORM is indeed a dark and delicious gold mine.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovecraft Lives! Sort of...,
This review is from: Mysteries of the Worm: Early Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) (Paperback)The gaming company Chaosium issued this collection some time back; it's nice to see it back in print. Robert Bloch (whom some of you may remember wrote PSYCHO) was a young friend/devotee to/of H.P.Lovecraft at a time when that young man was formulating his "Cthulhu Mythos." As writing friends will who adore each other's work, Bloch wrote a number of tales incorporating (and adding to) Lovecraft's eldritch creations. He "killed" his friend in "The Shambler From the Stars". HPL responded by offing young Block in the chilling "The Haunter of the Dark." Bloch responded to this with "Notebook Found in a Deserted House" - pulpish curios worth rereading. Other tales of note (bearing typically and delightfully WEIRD TALES titles) include "The Opener of the Way", "Fane of the Black Pharaoh", and"The Creeper in the Crypt." Bloch told his chillers well, with an economy of words - unlike Lovecraft; then he moved on to other writing. It's nice to have this remembrance.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for fans of Bloch or Lovecraft,
This review is from: Mysteries of the Worm: Early Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) (Paperback)One of the rather interesting things about the Cthulhu Mythos is how each member of Lovecraft's circle had their own take on it. I know more accurately that there was no coherent Mythos (that sort of attempt came much later) they were just writing stories almost like part of a game. But still it's fascinating how different writers handled it.
Bloch's stories have always been hit or miss for me, and this collection is no different. Some are really great, others are pretty awful. You can certainly see how his style changed over the years, but not necessarily the quality. Some of the best I thought were his early work. "Shambler from the Stars", "The Brood of Bubastis" (quite stomach turning) and the Mannikin. But probably the best one is the somewhat rambling "Terror in Cut-Throat Cove" which is just about the latest story (from 1958).
Conversely, most of the worst are from a similar period, the late 30s, I guess just after Lovecraft died. Dealing with mummies with just a veneer of the older mythos tacked on. But the very worst tale is a direct sequel to Lovecraft's "Haunter in the Dark". "The Shadow from the Steeple" from the 50s reads like the worst pastiches of Lovecraft, worse than anything even Derleth put out.
Still, all in all an entertaining volume, both for Lovecraft fans and Bloch fans. I really wish the notes before each the story were a little less whimsical and speculative and stuck to facts. Comparing each story to stories by others (even bringing in comic books) was annoying.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovecraft sure could spot talent,
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for the completist.,
4.0 out of 5 stars Early works....,
The book comes with a afterward by Robert Bloch and a small essay on him by Lin Carter.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Edition New Cover,
The New cover confused me at first ( nice first rate art) So I thought hey I've got a new book to check out
but after looking carefully at the stories within there aren't enough changes to make grabbing the 3rd Edition if you are lucky enough to have a 1st or 2nd.
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Mysteries of the Worm: Early Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (Call of Cthulhu Fiction) by Robert Bloch (Paperback - August 30, 2009)