Review of The Beast in the Cave by H.P. Lovecraft

So I have this book called The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft that I bought a while back and I have been meaning to read more of Lovecraft’s lesser known stories. I am very familiar with his Cthulhu mythos and learned a lot about this terrifying genre of horror, also known as cosmic horror.

It is fiction, but the thing great about his works, is that he taps into some of our deepest and darkest fears in our contemporary worlds. For instance in this 11 page short story Lovecraft takes the common fear of the dark and fills it with a common predicament of being lost in the dark.

The story is about a man being lost in a cave system named, Mammoth Cave, and while separated from his guided group he wanders through the caves aimlessly. As his torch expires he is terrified to hear non human sounding footsteps coming towards him. Thinking it’s a mountain lion or a predator he hurls rocks at it until it audibly collapses to the ground. After running away and coming across the guide and his group, they go back to the crumpled creature and examine the body. They are shocked to find it to be a pale deformed human who must have become lost many years prior. Leaving the protagonist aghast that he is in fact a murderer now.

After reading this story, I found it to be a neat little page turner, granted it is the usual blend of high vocabulary and intense imagery that Lovecraft is famous for. A good example of taking a fear and putting a face to the phobia as the creature it is revealed not only to be a horrible looking beast, but in reality it was human at one time. A poetic and horrifying end to a classic story.

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