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The Best of The Week

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a classic horror novella by H.P. Lovecraft. Written in 1931, it tells the first-person story of a young man on break from college who travels to an isolated seaside New England village and discovers that it is run by a cult. Most of the townsfolk are doomed to devolve into weird amphibious monstrosities as they age. The cultists attempt to murder him and he escapes, only to later discover that he is descended from the sea captain who brought the cult and monsters to the village and that he, too, is doomed.

The most striking thing about the novella is its atmosphere and setting. Lovecraft creates a viscerally repulsive picture of the decaying town and its degenerate inhabitants:

We met no one on the road, but presently began to pass deserted

A woman runs in fear. She calls home and leaves a distressed message.

We see her the next morning, horribly murdered.

Another young woman, Jay, goes on a date with a handsome, slightly older man. They later have sex in a car near some picturesque ruins. Then he chloroforms her, ties her to a chair, and points out a figure stalking her, slowly, nearby. It moves slowly. It will follow her. She can move herself further down its victim list, however, if she has sex with…

Rushlights were a cheap substitute for candles that were produced in England in the time before gas and electric lights were common.

Rushlights were made from the pith of the soft rush (AKA common rush or Juncus effusus) and the compact rush (Juncus conglomeratus). The rushes were picked by hand and left to sit until they wilted a bit (they were said to become 'clung', meaning withered), when they could easily be peeled with a knife. A small strip of 'skin' was…