H.P. Lovecraft is one of the legendary masters of the horror genre – before horror spiraled into shock and gore. His stories were atmospheric and creepy, in way, expanding on Edgar Allen Poe. On the surface, they seemed to be tales of good vs. evil, but on closer inspection, we find a dismal, fatalistic view of existence.
Lovecraft subscribed to cosmicism, which author Mike Duran quotes as being, “The philosophy of cosmicism states that there is no recognizable divine presence, such as a god, in the universe, and that humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence…” Continue reading
Categories: Books, Uncategorized
Tags: atheism, chance, cosmicism, Darwinism, H. P. Lovecraft, horror, materialism, Mike Duran, naturalism, theism
I mentioned a book to someone awhile back that was in the horror genre. They were appalled, because they were under the impression that horror was equivalent to Satan making films. I understand where that idea comes from, given the tendency of uncreative horror books and films to be about gore, shock and attacking religion. To say these things are all of what horror is would be a gross stereotype.
Fans of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Alfred Hitchcock all know that these authors explored the fears and dread of man in a more cerebral way. Most people find this approach more frightening than Freddy Part 500. Is there anything wrong with exploring the nature of man? The battle between good and evil? No, and the definition of horror is fluid and can cross into fantasy and sci-fi, and supernatural fiction is often just another name for it.
Christian writers, to the surprise of some, haven’t shied away from the field. Dante’s Inferno is quite hellish. There’s some heavy evil beings in The Lord of the Rings. Authors like Frank Peretti were writing supernatural fiction long before anyone came up with a name for it. Most shocking to all is that horror classics Frankenstein and Dracula were written with biblical worldviews. Gasp! Our perceptions of these two quintessential horror books have been colored by unfaithful adaptations reinterpreted through modern eyes. H. G. Ferguson writes:
It is hard cold fact that the horror story’s mother and father are Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Dracula), both of whom wrote out of a biblical worldview. Modern attempts by critics to discredit Stoker’s research in particular are significant. They don’t want to discredit Stoker so much as they want to discredit his worldview. They want the vampire amputated from the Judeo-Christian outlook Stoker held. They want Stoker’s vampire, but they do not want Stoker’s God. This is why so many — but not all — most recent treatments of vampires throw out the Cross as a means of dealing with them. The critics understand Dracula was written from a Christian worldview. Why don’t evangelicals?
There’s more to the Dracula story that leaves one wondering how modern versions and their offspring have managed to stray so far. That in of itself is not the point here:
Just like you don’t judge a book by its cover, nor should judge an entire genre by what low-budget movies have defined it as.
I don’t get the fantasy subgenre of paranormal/supernatural fiction’s obsession with vampires and werewolves. It’s always been around, but has exploded in recent years and now commands whole sections of bookstores. Then, I guess, there are people who don’t get people like me who like epic fantasy like Tolkien, Lewis or Terry Brooks. Nonetheless.
So here comes Bruce Hennigan’s The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon, which is a pleasant departure from high school age vampires who are all starting to look and act a lot alike. Hennigan’s infusion of demons and their sinister evil with the vampire theme actually moves this book closer to horror and a not-so-cute version of Twilight. It also has some tinges of supernatural fantasy, giving it a wide appeal in the hybrid world of fantasy-paranormal-supernatural fiction. It is also fast paced, I read it in an afternoon (less, actually). I have lost patience with books that read like one is moving through tar.
This is the second book in the series chronicling Johnathan Steel’s battle with the world’s 13 worst demons. As in any good sequel, Hennigan has upped the ante and topped his last outing. There’s a lot in here: Action, secret cults, religion, history, science. But what makes it more unsettling at times than the horror books that rely on gore and shock, is the depiction of evil lurking among the shadows. Like Poe, Lovecraft and Hitchcock, this is far more effective.* People find it weighs on their minds far longer than a fake, contrived blood and guts scene in a movie.
Perhaps, I suppose, some part of their mind, whether they realize it or not, recognizes evil exists.
* Not that those writers never used violence, just not at the level in what passes as “horror” today. And when combined with what I’m talking about here, watch out (Poe fans may want to check out the recent movie inspired by his works, The Raven).
Small quiet town. Dark secrets. Mysterious, strange people. Terrifying legends. Unspeakable experiments in shadowed places. Hideous beings. Evil ready to take over. Sounds like an H.P. Lovecraft story? (If you said Stephen King, well, he was inspired by Lovecraft, too.) No, this is Mike Duran’s book The Telling.
Definitely in the vein of Lovecraft, but set in the Southwest rather than New England. A story of how evil manifests in the least likely of places because that is the last place people would expect it to. The novel explores the idea that some are called to stand against the worst of evil. And some of those who would make the strongest stand are the most attacked and suppressed.
I like how Duran gives just enough detail to let your imagination take off. Some authors overwhelm us with every little minutia. Their books become tedious to read because our minds are given nowhere to go. Others lecture us and try to impress us with all their years of great research. Depending on your interests, some readers of The Telling may wish the author elaborated more on the government conspiracy or the science of dimensional portals (yep, there’s a little of everything in there). But that’s what sequels are for. And this story would be a prime candidate.
I would label this a horror novel, but the publisher labeled it suspense. I suspect that this is due to the modern perception of horror being gory and graphic (thanks to movies) and that this was published by a Christian publisher (not a niche known for horror). Fans of Lovecraft, Poe or Hitchcock know this not to be what all horror is about. Others may label this book the sub-genre of supernatural fiction. Though when does horror (or fantasy) become supernatural? Or vice versa?
Of course, you might be wondering why there is a special Christian fiction section in bookstores. That’s another discussion, but this book breaks down any stereotypes. It’s not about sermons or Bible verses. Most all writers bring their religion, or worldview, into their works one way or another. Duran’s book is like most of those, allowing his beliefs to inform and inspire his writing. There are those who want nothing contrary to their beliefs in a book. Others want explicit confirmation. Nothing wrong with these, everyone has a preference. I find Duran’s approach more realistic.
So if you are looking for a creepy diversion, or just something new, then take a look at The Telling. It cuts a path between the norm in secular and religious fiction of this genre. Part of a new trend? Time will tell.