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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness - H.P. Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi, China Miéville
“On the barren shore, and on the lofty ice barrier in the background, myriads of grotesque penguins squawked and flapped their fins”.
Yep! We are in Lovecraft’s universe where even penguins are grotesque. I mean, whoever heard of an ugly penguin? At the Mountains of Madness is H.P. Lovecraft’s best known novel, not that difficult an accomplishment as he did not write that many (only this one and [b:The Case of Charles Dexter Ward|129327|The Case of Charles Dexter Ward|H.P. Lovecraft|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1385837737s/129327.jpg|124552] I believe. A wise decision because I find that his style is much more suited to the short story format. There are some amazing, creepy and wildly entertaining tales in the “greatest hits” anthology [b:The Best of H.P. Lovecraft Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre|36315|The Best of H.P. Lovecraft Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre|H.P. Lovecraft|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1333214256s/36315.jpg|1813320] that I reviewed rambled about in detail.

At the Mountains of Madness is basically about an expedition to an unexplored part of Antarctica. The intrepid explorers of course run into weird Lovecraftian things and the protagonist lives to tell the tale as a deterrent to other explorers. The main asset of this book is Lovecraft’s painstaking world building, free from the constraint of the short story format he takes his time describing the setup, the landscape and the increasingly strange discoveries. As a result the novel is steeped in creepy atmosphere you can really immerse into.

That said I really don’t think this should be anyone’s gateway into Lovecraft’s fiction. The descriptions can seem a little interminable and the pacing can be something of a slog for the impatient readers, especially if they are not familiar with Lovecraft’s idiosyncratic writing style. The readers who have enjoyed some Lovecraft stories, especially the “The Cthulhu Mythos” one will find much to enjoy here. The infamous Necronomicon by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred (as opposed his totally sane relatives I guess) is often referred to. The Elder Ones, the Shoggoths and some unnamed things even the monsters are sacred of are featured. As usual with Lovecraft there is no dialogue to speak of and characterization is nonexistent. There is also not a lot of action in this book, the climax is a little vague. All the creepy setup does not result in a spectacular payoff. If you just read it for the creep factor you should be well satisfied.

In spite of its popularity this is not my favorite of his works but personally I will always have time for more Lovecraft.
(3.5 stars)