Just Read: “The Dreams in the Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft

Horror, MFA, Reading, SHU


Ugh. Just ugh. All the Lovecraft stories we’ve read have had their difficulties, I think. I had issues with all of them. However, I didn’t hate any. Some I liked better than others, but I wasn’t disinclined to finish any of them. “The Dreams in the Witch-House” is the exception to that. I really wanted to fling it across the room (but I reserve the actual action for Dan Brown novels).

I hated this story. Lovecraft’s usual talent for setting is still present, but it’s not as impressive. There seemed to be more of a science fiction bent, which isn’t bad, but seemed more a focus than setting. But from a technical perspective, it just sucked. It was slow and plodding. All exposition and not a bit of dialogue. All telling and no showing. And no real point of view character. Every time I turned the page, I just saw two more pages packed tight with words: no breaks, no white space. Like someone stranded in the desert, I looked for an oasis and came up with nothing but sand. I just have to say again: ugh.

The story was, for the most part, predictable. The only thing of interest was where the witch and Brown Jenkins were doing their dirty deeds. Aside from that, the plot points were pretty obvious. I’d like to be able to say that it has to do with the fact that we, as modern readers, are now jaded. That all the devices and tropes that were so new back then are standard now. But I don’t even think it’s that. How could any intelligent reader not get that the abysses in the story were Gilman crossing dimensions? It was blindingly obvious simply by all the little hints dropped about the witch and her disappearing and reappearing. Ugh.

Normally, I’m pretty generous with historical reads. I know different eras had different expectations of books and stories. But I just can’t do it with this one. It’s almost enough to put me off Lovecraft altogether.

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  • Reply
    Carla E. Anderton
    March 26, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I’m with you, Venessa. No more Lovecraft for me either, at least for a bit. Allow me to mirror what you said above: "Ugh"

  • Reply
    Swea Nightingale
    March 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    You go! I hated this story and would have rather been in my yard cleaning up dog poop than reading this. Ugh is right!

  • Reply
    Sheldon S. Higdon
    March 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Yeah, this story was lackluster at best. It could’ve been so much more and so much more tighter. I griped about the same thing: Dialogue!!! Didn’t see it. Maybe it crossed into a dialogue dimention. Either way, I grew bored early on.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I HATED this story. I thought about going back to read some of the other things we already went over and then I remembered I actually liked having time to do things enjoyable. Lovecraft is not enjoyable to me, especially after this. Maybe Steven King can clear my head.

  • Reply
    Scott A. Johnson
    March 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I thought about assigning "The Rats in the Walls" instead, but I didn’t feel like going over the racist overtones of it.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I too disliked the work. There are so many reasons why, lenght being just one of them. My lord how long did it really need to tell this story?

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