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Thoughts on The Horror From The Hills - Frank Belknap Long

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#1 wcburns



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Posted 30 November 2017 - 03:48 PM

I recently bought a copy of this book on Amazon, and read this story last night / this morning. This is the story that first introduces Chaugnar Faugn.

I'm wondering if anyone has read it, and what they thought of it.

Firstly, it was a pretty cheap edition of the book itself, with questionable choice of fonts and rife with typos. Fortunately I didn't pay too much for it.


There was a fun prologue in the form of a letter between Lovecraft protagonists Dr Armitage to Professor Peaslee discussing the story, and fictionalizing of mythos events to help expose people to the ideas in preparation of the Old Ones returning. The book also includes a lot of backmatter regarding the story, Long & Lovecraft, and other things that I've yet to get into, likely to pad out the page count.


Regarding the story itself, while it has some very good moments, I found it had a habit of over-exposition in the form of dialogue. Which is kind of funny to say for a Cthulhu Mythos style story, but a single person talking in quotation marks would go for pages without any form of descriptive break. I would have preferred if the story either chose to be a current-tense story with dialogue and descriptions, or simply go full HPL and written as a letter or journal entry.


I get the impression that Long had to meet a certain word count, or didn't have a particularly good per-word pay rate, and expanded on some pieces more than was necessary. The middle part specifically, which was a dream / flashback to roman times felt like it was longer than it should be.


That said, it was a quick enough read that the problems with structure felt minor. The scenes of horror were pretty evocative, more so than I was expecting. And it's always cool to see the original story of a mythos entity, whatever the quality of it is. In short, it's not the best Cthulhu Mythos story I've read, but not the worst either.




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#2 TMS


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Posted 30 November 2017 - 11:20 PM

I read it in The Tindalos Cycle, and liked it pretty well for the relative inexperience of the author. I've only read a few of Long's other stories, but of the ones I have read this is probably the best after "The Space-Eaters" (I've never been very impressed with Long's best-known story, "The Hounds of Tindalos"). There's strong horror material in the earlier sections, and the rest isn't bad either. I didn't mind the dream, which was adapted from Lovecraft's description of a very detailed dream of his (published elsewhere as "The Very Old Folk"). There are interesting ideas throughout the novella; they just don't hang together very well. The climax, while action-driven rather than horror-driven, was enjoyable as well. I've always liked that moment when Chaugnar Faugn briefly reappears in the air.

#3 wcburns



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Posted 06 December 2017 - 06:59 PM

The backmatter in the book helped me appreciate the roman dream sequence a little more, particularly by defining all the latin terms throughout that I didn't know. That may have made that part a bit more arduous than it would have been otherwise.

I stand by my thought that sections ran on a bit too long, but on reflection the story was enjoyable overall, especially for the length of it.

#4 Robin


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Posted 07 December 2017 - 09:34 PM

I read this some years ago... and my memory is that it was pretty poor stuff. Often I can get still get something out of a story I didn't enjoy - a moment of atmosphere, for example - but my only memory is of disappointment. I had thought it was meant to be a significant contribution to the Mythos, but I didn't think so after reading it.