Ok here's my first go reading a Clark Ashton Smith story. I don't know how typical or not this particular story is. And I honestly am not sure what to expect from the read. From what I've heard before I have a vision of possibly rather florid over written Dreamlands style stories. But that may be completely off the mark. I am particularly interested to see how his writing style compares with Lovecraft’s, both as a literary stylistic thing, and the resulting reading experience for me the reader.
Normally I make notes when I read and review weird fiction, including Lovecraft’s. This time I didn't. I was utterly gripped from start to end. The writing style is generally very clear, with vivid descriptions and excellent characterisation. There are some more obscure parts, but generally it flows really well.
I found it a really disturbing story, in its tale of a secretary encountering more horrors than he expected in his mysterious new job. Much is predictable re how it played out, but I was going “Ewww!” and holding up my hands to my face at times. In a good way. I enjoyed it. But oh, it was disturbing.
I'd also like to praise the initial description of the study. That was quite magical, a wonderful sense of place, but also a macabre collection of books, instruments and artefacts. I also really liked the incorporation of the Necronomicon into the story. And was amused at the nod to the unknowable.
This is just the first Clark Ashton Smith story I've read, and I've no idea how typical or not it is. Eg I'm expecting more fantastical content in some others. But it is certainly an excellent start, and I’m very encouraged.