Horror: The Dunwich Horror

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The Dunwich Horror by H. P. Lovecraft tells the story of the Whateleys, a mysterious family living in the sparsely populated town of Dunwich. The other families fear the Whateleys, as rumors persist of the family patriarch practicing black magic. Their image isn’t helped when Lavinia, Old Whateley’s daughter, gives birth to a precocious, exceedingly ugly boy named Wilbur who grows to be almost nine feet tall at the age of fifteen.

Even more disturbing is the mysterious disappearance of cattle, and the state of those that reappear: they looked to have been sucked dry by some kind of animal. While this is going on, Old Whateley slowly converts the farmhouse to hold something enormous. These events raise the suspicion of the locals, but little is done for fear of Old Whateley and Wilbur.

Things come to a head when Wilbur is killed one night. Soon afterward, the farmhouse explodes, and whatever was inside goes on a rampage, killing cattle and devouring families. The only person willing to face it is a librarian named Henry Armitage, along with two of his colleagues.

The Dunwich Horror was one of the first Lovecraft stories I ever read, and it’s still a chilling read. Part of what makes it effective is the atmosphere, with a chunk of text devoted to describing the dilapidated remains of Dunwich, an ancient town that reeks of decay and darkness. Here, the inhabitants have devolved into idiots, the infectious nature of the town affecting their very being. This is contrasted with the modernity of Miskatonic University, home to academics and knowledge – and yet, it is implied the so-called “civilized” world would be unprepared for the ancient evil brought to Earth if Wilbur Whateley had succeeded.

— Michael Malan

Editor’s Note:  Mike Malan is in his last year at Lewis. He transferred to Lewis from Joliet Junior College in 2008. He is an English Major with a sub-speciality in Creative Writing.  Mike especially enjoys writing gothic, Poe and all things that chill your bones. He is a dark writer but you can find him dabbling in politics. He is also interested in the editing process and hopes that you will enjoy his work.

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