While most of my book reviews have consisted of fantasy I do read a large variety of fiction that includes most of the main genres of books. The book I want to go into today is a novella by H.P. Lovecraft, one of the greatest horror authors of all time. While completely unknown during his life time, H.P. Lovecraft is now considered to be one of the greatest authors of the 20th century and has inspired countless horror authors including Stephen King and Clive Barker.
While I had heard of Lovecraft and his stories before, until recently I had never actually read any of them. Three things finally led me to his work in November/December 2010. The first was a desire to read something better than all the crappy fantasy novels I had been reading at the time. The second were the three South Park Episodes where B.P. unintentionally releases Cthulhu upon the world, (don't ask, just see the episodes for yourself). And the third and final was a recommendation from a friend.
Now that I have read some of his stuff, I'm going to give you my take on one of his most famous stories. It's time for my review of At the Mountains of Madness.
The story deals with an expedition of scientists who go to Antarctica and find a huge mountain range that even dwarfs the Himalayas. Within and beyond, they find an ancient prehistoric city and ancient prehistoric creatures of untold horrors and mystery that defy logic and explanation. But the less said about the plot the better as saying just a little can and will spoil everything.
While it is a great story there is a lot to complain about. The pace of the story is where most of my criticism comes from. At least half of the words in the book are lengthy descriptions of things I personally didn't care about nor can imagine anyone caring about. These include incredibly detailed descriptions of the gear they take with them to Antarctica, the earlier parts of the expedition, and of the city itself where the more suspenseful parts of the book take place. Often the suspense of the story will build up only to have it break off and cut away to an infuriatingly detailed description of some arch in a tunnel. Ok, maybe that's not entirely accurate but it should convey my point.
What makes the entire story worth reading, however, is what the scientists find in the city. What they find within the city is something I could talk about for hours and could write about for pages but I'll spare you that horror. Once again, the less said the better, but be ready to have your minds blown away.
While I'm on the subject of this story, I can't help but feel I have to mention that there is a movie in the works. Right now it's in its pre-production stages and is set with Guillermo del Toro to direct and James Cameron to produce and I can see how both of their styles could work in a film adaptation. Granted, there would have to be a lot of changes and much of it would have to be flat out rewritten but it could still make a great movie. Still, it will probably be several years before this movie is made, (if it's made at all), so don't hold your breath waiting for it. The only reservations I have about it is that it's suppose to be done in 3D and just hearing that makes me nervous. Don't ask why.
All around the story and the things it contained were good but the pacing was bad. It doesn’t at all read like Lovecraft's other stories and that may catch some off guard. The story is public domain so it shouldn’t be too hard to find and I would recommend reading it as long as you have some patience. If you can read through other long and boring books like Moby Dick or the Scarlet Letter then this one shouldn’t be a problem.