The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
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Rating: Four shoggoths out of five

Nutshell: A young Providence boy, infatuated with the ancient secrets of the town he lives in, begins an ill-fated study into the dark past of his family. Of course, his fascinations open up a dark portal into the past, and a feared ancestor seems to come back to life within this boy. His father and family doctor quest to save him.

Commentary: This tale is Lovecraft in his prime and an excellent read. It is of much larger format than most of his works (rivaling only "At the Mountains of Madness" in length at 100-some pages), but Lovecraft fills this space with all of his usual juicy ingredients: gibbering nameless entities in dark dungeons, evil ancestors coming back from death, lurid smells, and scads of ancient books and inscriptions. This story also contains one of my favorite Lovecraft scenes, in which a terrified doctor investigates dark catacombs with an electric torch, which is eaten by something that is only described as "unfinished". Highly recommended, especially for those just beginning their exploration of Lovecraft's work.

Best Quote: "Memory sometimes makes merciful deletions."

Best Quote Runner-Up: "P.S. Shoot Dr. Allen on sight and dissolve his body in acid. Don't burn it."

Illustration from Daemonolatria

Witch in her magic circle, conjuring demons.

Illustration from Nicolas Remi's Daemonolatria, from the German translation.

Hamburg, 1693

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