Review: “They Smell of Thunder” by W. H. Pugmire

2 of 5 stars.

This horror tale melds artistic creation with supernatural inspiration as outre-intrigued visual artist, Enoch Coffin, travels to horror-tainted Dunwich, MA to meet divinely-inspired prose poet, Xavier Aboth in order to illustrate Aboth’s latest collection.

This deeply uneven tale starts beautifully, casting an eerie light on Aboth’s interactions with his surroundings. Likewise, the relationship between the 2 men shifts toward an easy homo-eroticism, artistic-spiritual in nature. Aboth, however, cannot reconcile his education and idiolect with his poetry created in possessed states.

Soon, the landscape problematically assumes a bigger role in Coffin’s assessment of Aboth. The word Horror gets thrown around like a tangible thing, without showing what this horror might be as if pointing to a Lovecraft reference is enough. A fill-in-the-blank horror story does not work without anything implied to spark the reader’s imagination.

The crafted story falls to the side, as numerous elements of Lovecraft mythos are dropped without description or context, leading the reader precisely nowhere.

“They Smell of Thunder” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Encounters with Enoch Coffin (Dark Regions Press, 2013).
[Check out my other reviews here.]


5 responses to “Review: “They Smell of Thunder” by W. H. Pugmire

  1. Thank ye for your review. With this story I wanted to evoke the atmosphere of Lovecraft’s original tale, but not the monsters. Mood was ye all-important element, and mystery. One of ye beguiling features of Lovecraft’s tale is the way in which he evokes the mystique of place, and so I concentrated on painting a profile of the land, its weather, its effect on local mentality, and such. The only Mythos elements allow’d were those mention’d in E’ch-Pi-El’s original yarn, and I try’d to use those elements as conservably as possible, when I felt they wou’d move ye plot forward. It was such a fun story to write, & I was pleas’d that Paula reprinted it, thus bringing it to a wider audience than wou’d find it from readers of my own books.

    Liked by 1 person

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