Lovecraftian Horror

What is the Lovecraftian Horror Subgenre?

H.P. Lovecraft's tales of terrifying, ancient gods and monsters so captivated imaginations that many horror writers co-opted his style, his themes, and even his creatures until a new horror subgenre came about, comprised of work that paid homage to Lovecraft. Anyone who knows about H.P. Lovecraft will know that his name is synonymous with Cthulhu, perhaps one of Lovecraft's most popular creations, but Lovecraftian horror contains much more than eldritch tentacled monsters, although plenty are present. Instead, as in noir horror, there is a sense of overwhelming pessimism in Lovecraftian horror.

Lovecraft frequently wrote stories in which the reality of human existence was so horrific that protagonists were often driven insane, such is the case in Lovecrafian horror. The real terror is whatever lurks behind the thin veneer of reality. It is the unknown and unknowable and uncaring. In Lovecraftian horror, old and mysterious creatures abound, controlling humanity's destiny, and the all too human protagonists can do little, if anything, to stop it.


Lovecraftian Horror Characteristics

Level of Characterization: The level of characterization in Lovecraftian horror is very low, particularly for the human protagonists. Much more effort is given to characterizing the supernatural antagonists.

Level of Plot: In Lovecraftian horror, layers of mystery are common, and so, the plot is level is moderate to high.

Level of Supernatural: A staple of Lovecraftian horror is ancient monsters or aliens who control the fate of humanity. Expect the level of supernatural to be moderate to high in these tales.

Level of Scary: The level of scary can vary in Lovecraftian horror as the scares, here, come from what is unknown, and therefore rely on the reader's imagination.

Level of Violence: The level of violence in Lovecraftian horror is low to moderate since it is not violence and gore which supply the scares in this subgenre.

Typical Setting:  Similar to Lovecraft's tales, the settings in this subgenre are rural and isolated, allowing secrets to fester.

Related Horror Subgenres

Because of its relentless pessimism, Lovecraftian horror can be related to noir, which shares a similarly dark view of the world.


Weird tales, which Lovecraft himself wrote, would also be related to Lovecraftian horror, as well as supernatural horror, the genre of monsters.


Cthulhu Mythos: this is another term for Lovecraftian or Lovecraftian inspired horror.

Don't Read Lovecraftian Horror If You Dislike…

Lovecraft. If ancient creatures controlling the fate of humanity disturbs you, and not in a good way, this may not be the genre for you. If Lovecraft's intricate prose is a problem, this may not be the genre for you.

The Black Wings of Cthulhu by S.T. Joshi- When a Lovecraft expert compiles a collection of Lovecraftian short stories from leading horror writers, you know that the result is going to be some of the best eldritch horror out there.


The Amulet by William Miekle- First in the Midnight Eye Files, The Amulet tells the story of Derek Adams, a private investigator in Glasgow who is down on his luck and looking for a quick break. When a beautiful woman asks him to recover a stolen family heirloom, he thinks that his luck is finally turning. Little does he know that this case will have him tangling with an ancient, tentacled evil.


Hive by Tim Curran- In this unofficial sequel to Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, two strange mummies are brought to Kharkov Research Station in Antarctica, causing strange events to unfold at the Station.


That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley- Miskatonic University student, Carter Weston, is sent to track down an ancient book in a nearby village, but what seems like a simple errand takes Carter on a harrowing quest into the unknown.


Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft- It's probably a bad idea to move to a place called Lovecraft, Maine, but that is exactly what the Locke family does. When its patriarch is murdered by a deranged teen, each family memver deals with the death in their own way, but sinister forces lurk in the family homestead.


The Darkest Part of the Woods by Ramsey Campbell- Something lurks in the forest of Goodmanswood, and its destiny is inextricably linked to the Price family. When a highway is built through a forest, the Price family is changed forever.


14 by Peter Clines- Nate's got a dead-end job, no girlfriend, and no savings. So, when he's forced to move and finds an apartment that is close to his job with low rent and friendly landlords, it's almost too good to be true. Sure, there are a few strange occurrences, but Nate's willing to overlook these, until he and his neighbors start swapping stories and stumble on a mystery that could destroy them all.


Revival by Stephen King- After the death of his wife and child, a preacher loses his way and becomes a "faith healer" by experimenting with and tapping into electricity. Jamie Morton, a drug addict that the preacher has healed, approaches him with a favor that will change them both forever.


The Ceremonies by T.E.D. Klein- Jeremy Friers, an unsuspecting graduate student, and Carol Conklin, a shy library worker, have no idea when they meet that their strange relationship has been engineered to serve a sinister purpose.


The Croning by Laird Barron- This tale opens on an eerie spin on Rumplestiltskin that deails with an ancient and dark force that controls the dreams and destinies of many. Years later, this story will have a profound effect on a seemingly perfect couple.

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