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The Shadow over Innsmouth: A Horror Novella by H.P. Lovecraft - Read Online or Download



The Shadow over Innsmouth: A Classic Horror Novella by H. P. Lovecraft




If you are a fan of horror fiction, you have probably heard of H. P. Lovecraft, one of the most influential and original writers of the genre. His stories are known for their cosmic horror, where humans face incomprehensible and ancient forces that threaten their sanity and existence. One of his most famous and acclaimed stories is The Shadow over Innsmouth, a novella that combines mystery, suspense, and terror in a gripping tale of a doomed town and its dark secrets.




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In this article, we will explore what makes The Shadow over Innsmouth a classic horror novella, what are its main themes and symbols, how it was received and influenced other works, and where you can find and download its ebook version for free. Whether you have read it before or not, you will surely enjoy this journey into Lovecraft's nightmarish world.


The Cthulhu Mythos




The Shadow over Innsmouth is part of what is known as the Cthulhu Mythos, a fictional universe created by Lovecraft and expanded by his friends and followers. The Cthulhu Mythos is based on the idea that there are ancient and powerful beings that exist beyond human comprehension, such as gods, aliens, monsters, and cults. These beings are often worshipped or feared by humans, who may come into contact with them through dreams, rituals, artifacts, or locations.


One of the most prominent beings in the Cthulhu Mythos is Cthulhu himself, a gigantic winged creature with a tentacled face that lies sleeping in an underwater city called R'lyeh. Cthulhu is said to be able to influence human minds through dreams, and his awakening will bring about the end of the world. Another important being is Dagon, a fish-like god that rules over a race of amphibious creatures called the Deep Ones.


The Shadow over Innsmouth is one of the stories that features the Deep Ones and their connection to Dagon. It also references other elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, such as place-names (Arkham, Miskatonic, Dunwich), mythical creatures (Shoggoths, Mi-Go, Elder Things), and invocations (Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!). By doing so, it creates a sense of continuity and coherence within Lovecraft's fictional world.


The Plot of The Shadow over Innsmouth




The story is divided into five chapters, each one revealing more about the mystery and horror of Innsmouth. Here is a brief summary of each chapter:


Chapter 1: The narrator's curiosity and investigation of Innsmouth




The story begins with the narrator, a young man who is interested in antiquarian and architectural matters, telling us how he instigated a secret investigation of Innsmouth by the U.S. government after fleeing from it in 1927. He then proceeds to describe how he became curious about the town, which lies on the route of his tour across New England.


While waiting for the bus that will take him to Innsmouth, he gathers information from the locals in the neighboring town of Newburyport. He learns that Innsmouth is a decaying and isolated seaport that was once prosperous but declined after the War of 1812 and a mysterious epidemic in 1845. He also learns that the town is dominated by a strange cult called the Esoteric Order of Dagon, which was founded by a local merchant named Obed Marsh. The cult worships some kind of sea deity and practices human sacrifice and interbreeding with fish-like creatures.


The narrator is both fascinated and repelled by these stories, but decides to visit Innsmouth anyway, hoping to find some rare antiquities and architectural specimens.


Chapter 2: The narrator's arrival and exploration of Innsmouth




The narrator arrives in Innsmouth and finds it to be a mostly deserted and dilapidated town, full of foul smells and eerie sounds. He notices that the people who live there have a distinctive appearance, with "queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes". They also walk with a peculiar shambling gait and seem to avoid contact with outsiders.


The only person who seems normal is a young clerk at the local grocery store, who comes from Arkham. The clerk gives the narrator a map of the town and some tips on what to see. He also warns him not to stay overnight in Innsmouth, as there are rumors of strange things happening after dark.


The narrator follows the clerk's advice and visits some of the landmarks of Innsmouth, such as the Marsh Refinery, the Order of Dagon Hall, the Old Church, and the Gilman House Hotel. He also sees some of the gold jewelry that Obed Marsh brought from overseas, which has a peculiar design and workmanship. He is impressed by the antiquity and uniqueness of Innsmouth, but also feels uneasy and oppressed by its atmosphere.


Chapter 3: The narrator's encounter with Zadok Allen and his shocking revelations




The narrator decides to leave Innsmouth as soon as possible, but before he does, he meets an old drunkard named Zadok Allen, who claims to know the secrets of the town. Zadok agrees to tell his story if the narrator buys him some whiskey.


Zadok tells a long and horrifying tale of how Obed Marsh discovered a race of fish-frog men called the Deep Ones in the South Seas. The Deep Ones worshipped Dagon and his consort Hydra, and offered gold and fish to those who joined their cult. Obed brought their religion back to Innsmouth and made a pact with them. He sacrificed some of his people to them and allowed them to mate with others, creating hybrid offspring who would eventually transform into Deep Ones themselves.


Zadok says that most of the people in Innsmouth are either hybrids or descendants of hybrids, and that they have a secret colony under the sea where they live with their kin. He also says that they have plans to rise up and take over the world with their ancient allies, such as Cthulhu and his spawn.


The narrator is shocked and terrified by Zadok's story, but thinks it is a product of a mad imagination. He thanks Zadok for his time and leaves him.


Chapter 4: The narrator's escape and pursuit by the Deep Ones




Chapter 5: The narrator's discovery of his own heritage and fate




The narrator manages to reach the town of Arkham, where he reports his ordeal to the authorities. He also learns that his bus driver was killed by the Innsmouth people, and that his luggage was searched and tampered with. He suspects that they were looking for something that he had unwittingly taken from Innsmouth: a piece of jewelry that belonged to his grandmother, who was from Innsmouth.


The narrator then reveals that he is actually a descendant of Obed Marsh and one of his Deep One wives. He realizes that he has inherited the "Innsmouth look" and that he will eventually transform into a Deep One himself. He also feels a strange attraction to the sea and to his unknown kin. He decides to join them in their underwater city, where he hopes to meet Dagon and Hydra, and perhaps even Cthulhu himself.


The story ends with the narrator writing his account as a warning and a farewell to humanity. He says that he hears the Deep Ones knocking at his door, and that he is ready to embrace his destiny.


The Themes and Symbols of The Shadow over Innsmouth




The Shadow over Innsmouth is a rich and complex story that explores many themes and symbols that are characteristic of Lovecraft's work. Here are some of the most prominent ones:


Isolation and decay




Innsmouth is a town that has been cut off from the rest of the world by its geography, its history, and its cult. It is a place where time has stopped and where everything is rotting and crumbling. The people who live there are also isolated and decayed, both physically and mentally. They have lost their humanity and their dignity, becoming slaves to an alien god and his spawn.


Innsmouth represents a fallen and corrupted society, where progress and civilization have been replaced by stagnation and degeneration. It also reflects Lovecraft's fear of change and modernity, which he saw as threats to his own values and identity.


Fear and curiosity




The narrator is a person who is driven by both fear and curiosity. He is afraid of the unknown and the unnatural, but he is also drawn to them by his intellectual and aesthetic interests. He wants to learn more about Innsmouth and its secrets, but he also wants to escape from them as soon as possible.


Fear and curiosity are two sides of the same coin in Lovecraft's stories. They are both motivators for human exploration and discovery, but they are also sources of danger and madness. Lovecraft suggests that there are some things that humans are not meant to know, and that the price of knowledge may be too high.


Transformation and hybridity




The Deep Ones and their offspring are creatures that challenge the boundaries of human identity. They are hybrids of human and fish-frog, capable of living in both land and water. They also undergo a transformation from human to Deep One as they age, losing their human features and gaining those of their aquatic kin.


Transformation and hybridity are themes that reflect Lovecraft's fascination with evolution and genetics, as well as his horror of miscegenation and racial mixing. He believed that humans were superior to other animals, and that any deviation from their pure form was a sign of degeneration and corruption. He also feared that his own ancestry was tainted by foreign blood, which could manifest itself in physical or mental defects.


Madness and revelation




The narrator's sanity is tested by the truth of his ancestry and his fate. He suffers from nightmares, hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. He also experiences a revelation that changes his perception of reality and himself. He realizes that he is not a human, but a Deep One in disguise. He also feels a connection to the sea and to his kin, which he cannot resist.


Madness and revelation are themes that show Lovecraft's view of the human mind as fragile and vulnerable to cosmic forces. He believed that humans were insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that any contact with higher beings or realities would shatter their sanity or corrupt their morals. He also explored the idea that madness could be a form of enlightenment, a way of transcending the limits of human reason and logic.


The Reception and Influence of The Shadow over Innsmouth




The Shadow over Innsmouth is one of Lovecraft's most popular and influential stories, but it was not always so. Here is a brief overview of its publication history, critical response, and adaptations and inspirations:


Publication history




Lovecraft wrote The Shadow over Innsmouth in NovemberDecember 1931, after being inspired by a visit to the towns of Newburyport and Gloucester in Massachusetts. He submitted it to Weird Tales, his usual magazine, but it was rejected by the editor Farnsworth Wright, who claimed that it was too long and not interesting enough. Lovecraft was disappointed and frustrated by this rejection, and considered it one of his best stories.


In 1935, Lovecraft's friend W. Paul Cook offered to publish the story in book form, through his Visionary Publishing Company. Lovecraft agreed, hoping to see his work in print before he died. However, the publication was plagued by financial and technical difficulties, and only about 200 copies were printed, most of them defective. Lovecraft never received any royalties or copies of the book, and died in 1937 without knowing that his story had been published.


In 1939, Weird Tales finally published The Shadow over Innsmouth in a serialized form, after Wright had changed his mind about its quality. The story was well received by the readers, and helped to increase Lovecraft's popularity and reputation. Since then, the story has been reprinted many times in various editions and anthologies, and has become one of Lovecraft's most widely read and acclaimed works.


Critical response




The Shadow over Innsmouth has been praised by critics and scholars as one of Lovecraft's most effective and original stories. It has been analyzed from various perspectives, such as literary, psychological, historical, cultural, and biographical. Some of the aspects that have been highlighted are its narrative structure, its use of suspense and horror, its exploration of themes and symbols, its connection to the Cthulhu Mythos, its reflection of Lovecraft's personal fears and experiences, and its commentary on social and political issues.


Some of the critics who have written about The Shadow over Innsmouth are S. T. Joshi, Robert M. Price, Peter Cannon, Leslie S. Klinger, David E. Schultz, Robert H. Waugh, Darrell Schweitzer, Jason Colavito, W. Scott Poole, and Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock.


Adaptations and inspirations




The Shadow over Innsmouth has been adapted into other media and influenced other works of horror fiction. Some of the adaptations are:



  • A radio drama by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company in 1986.



  • A comic book by Steven Philip Jones and Octavio Cariello in 1994.



  • A film by Stuart Gordon in 2001.



  • A video game by Headfirst Productions in 2005.



  • A musical by The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society in 2013.



  • A podcast by The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast in 2014.



  • A graphic novel by Gou Tanabe in 2018.



Some of the works that have been inspired by The Shadow over Innsmouth are:



  • Dagon, a short story by H. P. Lovecraft in 1919.



  • The Thing on the Doorstep, a short story by H. P. Lovecraft in 1933.



  • The Dunwich Horror, a short story by H. P. Lovecraft in 1928.



  • The Festival, a short story by H. P. Lovecraft in 1923.



  • The Lurking Fear, a short story by H. P. Lovecraft in 1922.



  • The Fisherman, a novel by John Langan in 2016.



  • Innsmouth Legacy, a series of novels by Ruthanna Emrys from 2017 to present.



  • Innsmouth Syndrome, a short story by Philip Haldeman in 1999.



Conclusion: Where to Find and Download The Shadow over Innsmouth Ebook




The Shadow over Innsmouth is a classic horror novella by H. P. Lovecraft that will keep you on the edge of your seat and haunt your dreams. It is a story of mystery, suspense, and terror that explores themes such as isolation, decay, fear, curiosity, transformation, hybridity, madness, and revelation. It is also a story that has influenced many other works of horror fiction and has been adapted into various media.


If you are looking for a thrilling and captivating read, you should definitely check out The Shadow over Innsmouth. And the good news is that you can find and download its ebook version for free online. There are many websites that offer free ebooks of public domain works, such as Project Gutenberg, ManyBooks, Feedbooks, and Open Library. You can choose the format that suits your device and preferences, such as PDF, EPUB, MOBI, or HTML.


Here is a link to one of the websites where you can download The Shadow over Innsmouth ebook for free: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2985


We hope you enjoyed this article and that it inspired you to read The Shadow over Innsmouth. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. And if you liked this article, please share it with your friends and family who might also be interested in Lovecraft's work.


Thank you for reading and happy reading!


Frequently Asked Questions





  • What is the Cthulhu Mythos?



The Cthulhu Mythos is a fictional universe created by H. P. Lovecraft and expanded by his friends and followers. It is based on the idea that there are ancient and powerful beings that exist beyond human comprehension, such as gods, aliens, monsters, and cults. These beings are often worshipped or feared by humans, who may come into contact with them through dreams, rituals, artifacts, or locations.


  • Who are the Deep Ones?



The Deep Ones are a race of fish-frog men that live beneath the sea. They worship Dagon and Hydra, two ancient sea deities that are part of the Cthulhu Mythos. They also mate with humans, creating hybrid offspring who can live forever. They have a secret colony under the sea where they live with their kin.


  • What is the Innsmouth look?



The Innsmouth look is a term used to describe the distinctive appearance of the people who live in Innsmouth. They have "queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes". They also walk with a peculiar shambling gait and seem to avoid contact with outsiders. The Innsmouth look is caused by their hybrid nature, as they are descendants of humans and Deep Ones.


  • What is the Esoteric Order of Dagon?



The Esoteric Order of Dagon is a cult that was founded by Obed Marsh in Innsmouth. It is based on the worship of Dagon and Hydra, and the practice of human sacrifice and interbreeding with the Deep Ones. The cult members wear gold jewelry that has a peculiar design and workmanship. The cult also has branches in other parts of the world.


  • What is the fate of the narrator?



The narrator discovers that he is a descendant of Obed Marsh and one of his Deep One wives. He realizes that he has inherited the Innsmouth look and that he will eventually transform into a Deep One himself. He also feels a strange attraction to the sea and to his unknown kin. He decides to join them in their underwater city, where he hopes to meet Dagon and Hydra, and perhaps even Cthulhu himself.


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