The Shadow over Innsmouth [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a novella by H. P. Lovecraft. Written in November-December 1931, the story was first published in April 1936; this was the only fiction of Lovecraft's published during his lifetime that did not appear in a periodical.

The story describes a young man's discovery of a strange hybrid race, half-human and half an unknown creature that resembles a cross between a fish and a frog, that dwell in Innsmouth - a coastal town...
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The Shadow over Innsmouth

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Overview

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a novella by H. P. Lovecraft. Written in November-December 1931, the story was first published in April 1936; this was the only fiction of Lovecraft's published during his lifetime that did not appear in a periodical.

The story describes a young man's discovery of a strange hybrid race, half-human and half an unknown creature that resembles a cross between a fish and a frog, that dwell in Innsmouth - a coastal town that had seen better days, and the waters offshore. The townspeople worship Dagon, a Philistine deity incorporated into the Cthulhu Mythos.

Plot summary:
The story is divided into five chapters. In the first chapter, the narrator begins by recounting to the reader of a secret investigation that was undertaken by the government at the ruined town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, and that the story told to them by the narrator himself is the reason for this investigation. He proceeds to describe in detail the events surrounding his initial interest in the town (antiquarian and architectural) which lies on the route of his tour -taken when 21 - across New England. While he waits for the bus that will take him to Innsmouth, he busies himself in the neighboring town of Newburyport by gathering information from local townsfolk; all of it with superstitious overtones.

The second chapter details his ride into Innsmouth, described in great detail as a crumbling, mostly deserted town full of dilapidated structures and people who look just a bit odd and who tend to walk with a distinct shambling gait. All of this is offputting to the narrator, who describes the people as having the "Innsmouth look", "queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes". Only one person in town appears normal, a young clerk at the local First National grocery store who comes from neighbouring Arkham. The narrator gathers much information from the clerk, including a map of the town and the name of a local who might be a good source of information: an ancient man named Zadok Allen, known to open up about the town when plied with drink.

The majority of the third chapter is composed of the conversation between Zadok and the narrator. Zadok, who is very old, has seen much in the town and goes on at length, telling a tale of fish-frog men known as Deep Ones who live beneath the sea. It seems they bring prosperity in the form of fish as well as fantastically wrought gold jewelry to those who offer them human sacrifice. These fish-frog men are amphibious and willing to come to land to mate with humans, creating deformed offspring who can live forever. These fish-frog men were first discovered in the Indies by a native island tribe, which was itself found by an Innsmouth merchant named Obed Marsh. When hard times befell Innsmouth, Obed and some followers did what they could to call up the fish-frog men in their New England town. When the story is over, the narrator is unnerved but thinks it a product of a fertile imagination.

Chapter four tells of the night that the narrator was forced to spend in town, after being told that the bus in which he came to town is experiencing engine trouble. The narrator has no choice but to spend the night in a musty hotel. While attempting to sleep, he hears noises at his door like someone trying to enter. Wasting no time, he attempts to escape out a window and through the streets, at times imitating the peculiar walk of the Innsmouth locals. Eventually he makes his way to some train tracks where he hears a great many creatures passing in the road before him. He hides and resolves to close his eyes, having at this point come to accept the idea that Zadok's story is true. He cannot keep them closed, however, and upon seeing the fish-frog creatures in full light for the first time, faints in his hiding spot.

In the final chapter, we hear of how the narrator wakes up unharmed and quickly walks to the next town (Rowley). Over the years that pass, he begins doing research into his family tree, discovering some disturbing information along the way. Eventually it becomes clear that he is a descendant of Obed Marsh himself and nightmares accompany the narrator's realization that he is changing into one of the creatures. As the story ends, the narrator, by then a student at Oberlin College, tells us that his horror at the idea is changing into acceptance, and that he will be quite happy living forever in the city Y'ha-nthlei, deep beneath the sea. He also has a cousin who is even further transformed than he is being held in a mental hospital whom he plans to break free and take with him.
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Editorial Reviews

Bruce Rux
Lovecraft's own inspirational story, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" - curiously, one of his own least favorite, but one of his best - leads off this terrific collection of clever spin-off tales by contemporary authors on the same theme: namely, that there are isolated seaside places around the world where the inhabitants not only pray to, but interact with, ancient subaqueous demon-gods from other worlds.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940014078740
  • Publisher: Hells Gate Ltd.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 140 KB

Meet the Author

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937), often credited as H.P. Lovecraft, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction.

Lovecraft's guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind. As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is best known for his Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his lifetime, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft—as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century—has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." King has even made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King's own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. His stories have also been adapted into theater and film, and have inspired an award-winning role-playing game.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Decent read for the price

    First exposure bto Lovecraft but it was good enough

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