You’ll want to devour these subversive adaptations.
HBO’s latest prestige adaptation is pulled from the pages of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country. Both the book and series follow Korean War veteran Atticus Turner from Chicago to Massachusetts, following his missing father, who, in his obsession with his late wife’s heritage, has stumbled upon an arcane conspiracy 150 years in the making. With a love of sci-fi and horror in his back pocket, and a few magical tricks up his sleeve, Atticus is uniquely situated to face what awaits him in the mysterious down of Ardham.
Ruff draws heavily on themes found in H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories: old families with dark secrets, ancient texts, magical rituals, and creatures suffering from unknowable hungers. In a move that subverts Lovecraft’s blatant racism, the white author centers Black voices in his novel, in such a way that white supremacy becomes both the real evil and the driving force of the story.
Part Lovecraftian mystery, part road novel, Ruff’s story has a lot to offer readers in search of an off-the-beaten-path story. If you loved it, check out one of these great books like Lovecraft Country to read next:
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Drawing comparisons to surrealist author Leonora Carrington, Amparo Dávila’s first English translation, The Houseguest, is a macabre collection of 12 stories that skew everyday life into something weird and haunting.
In this fresh take on H.P. Lovecraft’s "The Shadow over Innsmouth," a young woman whose life was once torn apart by the U.S. government must return to its aid, if only to cobble together a future for her people. Aphra and Caleb Marsh are the only survivors of the government’s pre-War containment and extermination, but now the Cold War has reached Miskatonic University, and Aphra’s going home, for the first time in forever.
A Collapse of Horses author Brian Evenson’s latest short-story collection, Song for the Unraveling of the World blends literary fiction with horror and sci-fi elements to arrive at something utterly chilling. The 22-story collection opens with "No Matter Which Way We Turned," in which a young girl is born with no face… and somewhere else exists a girl with two.
Based on the hit podcast from the co-creator of Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead follows a lone truck driver on a cross-country mission to locate her wife, the eponymous Alice, whom she believes may still be alive somewhere. Always in pursuit is the Thistle Man: a not-quite human creature who kills because that is what it has been designed to do.
Spindrift House is a manor rising out of the sea, surrounded by a town that nature has reclaimed for itself. A teen detective agency on the verge of aging out of the business finds its final case inside the ancient walls. Spindrift House’s rightful owner is shrouded in mystery, but with a $3.5 million reward on the line, the junior sleuths might just be able to crack the case.
A small, fictional town in Japan falls apart under the weight of a spiral curse in horror master Junji Ito’s Uzumaki. As their friends, family members, and the landscape around them begin to succumb to the curse, which twists everything into a series of painful spirals, two teens begin to trace the problem to its very core — with horrifying results.
After a nightmare causes her to give up eating meat, Yeong-hye begins to slowly change before her family’s very eyes. Han Kang’s International Booker Prize-winning novel is an exploration of abuse and liberation, with a tinge of horror lying in wait just below the surface.
When an eldritch evil threatens to destroy New York City, each of the five boroughs raises an avatar to fight for the fate of the United States’ largest metropolis. But New York’s new crop of saviors find themselves fighting an internal threat when one of the avatars, a white woman from Staten Island, refuses to work with her non-white peers.
In H.P. Lovecraft’s "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," a man goes to the ends of the earth to find the city of the gods: a city that has only appeared to him in dreams. Kij Johnson turns Lovecraft’s tale on its head in The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe. Johnson’s novella follows a middle-aged woman from the dream-city of Ulthar, who is forced to go on a rescue mission when one of her students elopes with a dreaming man.
Stephen Graham Jones’ new, literary horror novel is one of 2020’s must-read books, and it happens to be a particularly great choice for fans of Lovecraft Country. Here, four Blackfeet men find themselves chased by an ancient and vengeful spirit, years after they broke a covenant by hunting on land reserved for their tribal elders.
A 10-year-old hires a contract killer to assassinate his abusive father, but not all is as it seems in Cassandra Khaw’s inventive novelette, Hammers on Bone. McKinsey is no mere man, but a monster, and that makes him the perfect target for John Persons: an ancient god-slayer with a sordid history of his own.
Innsmouth Magazine editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles bring together 25 women writers from around the world in this anthology, which tackles Lovecraftian themes from every possible angle. Lovecraft Country fans may very well find their new favorite author here.
One of the most famous Lovecraftian retellings in recent memory, Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom takes on Lovecraft’s "The Horror at Red Hook." The titular Tom is a 20-year-old Black Harlemite, hired as an entertainer for a rich, white man’s party. There, Tom finds himself inadvertently drawn into a plot to revive Cthulhu and take over the world. Will the sleeping god awaken?
Set against the backdrop of a decopunk Asia, Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress centers on Maika, a teenage girl who lost nearly everything in the war between the Cumaea and the Arcanics — sorceresses and the people they consume to fuel their magic. An Arcanic tethered to a demon, Maika may have the power to overthrow the ruling government… but can she survive that long in a world that wants her dead?
If you’re searching for some humor in your Lovecraft Country readalikes, look no further than China Miéville’s Kraken. This weird horror comedy takes place in an alternate version of London, in which a cephalopod expert finds himself on the run from a variety of demonic individuals and magical groups, after a giant squid specimen disappears from under his nose.
For readers who loved Lovecraft Country‘s ghostly elements, there’s White Is for Witching, which centers on a young woman fated to join the chorus of spirits that tremble in the walls of her family’s home. As compelling as it is bone-chilling, Helen Oyeyemi’s dark fairy tale will haunt you long after you’ve closed the cover.
Urban legend meets Lovecraft in Cherie Priest’s Maplecroft. Lizzie may be the most infamous innocent woman in the history of the world. She knows what killed her family, but no sane person could believe her. Now, living on the coast with her sister, Lizzie’s plotting her next move, one that will eradicate the monsters of the deep — the ones that stole her family from her.
Comatose after the crash that killed his wife, Ogi awakens to find his mother-in-law caring for him, working through her own grief over the loss of her daughter. When his mother-in-law begins ripping out her daughter’s prized garden, and digging holes across the yard in search of something unknown, Ogi finds himself trapped in a downright sinister situation in Hye-young Pyun’s The Hole.
A Black man willing to do whatever it takes to guarantee his biracial son’s success takes on a series of hurdles, each more confounding that the last, in this thought-provoking 2019 novel. As his birthmark grows, Nigel’s skin is turning darker. There’s a possible treatment — a surgery to permanently make him white — but, in a regressive, racist world, can his father beat the odds to earn the money for the procedure?
Long ago, travelers left their own world and came to this one, setting up colonies in a desolate landscape. When a city-slicker leaves home for a colony on the edge of nowhere, she finds that nothing in her world is as it should be, in this gripping, psychological novel from Jagannath author Karin Tidbeck.
Weird is what Jeff VanderMeer does. In his latest novel, the first in a duology, an orphaned teen inherits a mansion and a dark legacy. Part portal fantasy, part historical adventure, A Peculiar Peril is one of the year’s strangest, best reads.
Set in the United States during the Prohibition Era, P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout transports readers to an alternative history in which D.W. Griffiths is an actual sorcerer using actual magic, in the form of Birth of a Nation, to bend white America to his will. With a cabal of KKK monsters running amok, it’s up to a bootlegger with a sword to save the world in this supernatural thrill-ride.
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