Dream Quest was H.P. Lovecraft’s longest story and the closest he came to producing a full-length novel. He was a popular and prolific writer of popular horror short stories which inspired a number of movies for which he rarely got credit, like Ghostbusters and The Mist.
In search of a city of rapturous beauty he glimpsed in a dream, Randolph Carter, HPL’s thinly disguised alter ego, travels a fabulous landscape so filled with nightmare demons and frightening vistas that it seems a Twilight Zone version of the Land of Make Believe poster that hangs in many pediatricians’ offices. Whereas his usual fare features mythical monsters in ostensibly real settings, in Quest he gives real animals, mostly cats, a large role to play in an explicitly unreal setting, a dream. And monsters you will find. Almost every evil entity that appears in Lovecraft’s many short stories makes a cameo appearance in Quest with many new ones, from night-gaunts to Zoogs to Nyarlathotep, who, for the first and only time in his writings, the reader meets face-to-face and hears speak. In Quest, you will learn what became of Pickman from “Pickman’s Model,” and exactly where the plateau of Leng is located. You will learn the origin of the strange physiognomy of the Great Old Ones, and the final secret of the mysterious city of Kadath, which this reviewer will leave to the reader to discover when he undertakes the same strange road that Lovecraft lay for others to follow.
Dream Quest is odd, as odd as Lovecraft himself, consciously archaic in style (“shewed”, “learnt”), and is well written, though not quite in the same league as Poe, Tolkien, or Mervyn Peake, either conceptually or stylistically, nor does it match most of his other writing. HPL had difficulty sustaining the interaction on multiple levels and the many characterizations required for a satisfactory novel. Quest therefore reads more like an extended short-story with minimal plotting and in fact has only a single character who never utters a word of dialogue. Very strange but very HPL.
HPL was popular for decades but with the advent of the PC Cult of Wokeness, his books are now increasingly labeled as ‘racist’ and therefore to be avoided. This attitude needs to be completely rejected. In several of his stories he speaks of his horror of dark immigrants swarming port cities. He should know. He lived in New York City for a time. When his marriage failed he returned to Providence. HPL is the second best horror writer America ever produced after Edgar Allan Poe and many would say superior to Poe. His style was consciously verbose as he believed this added to the atmosphere of what he wrote. He was correct in this. His best stories I think were A Color Out of Space, Pickman’s Model, Rats in the Walls, Cool Air, and the Call of Cthulhu.
Cthulhu proved to be so popular that this ‘elder god’ has appeared everywhere in various guises, even on South Park. Many movies have starred Cthulhu, rarely giving HPL credit for his creation. The pictures above are my expression of this entity, specifically of the statuette found by Inspector LeGrasse in the swamps of Louisiana.