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It’s been awhile, but now it’s time for another Book Cover Smackdown! This time around, we’re pitting upcoming H.P. Lovecraft-themed books up against one another.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Pass artistic judgment!

Tell us:

  • Which of these covers do you like the most?
  • What works and what doesn’t work with these covers?
  • Do any of them make you want to learn more about and/or read the book?


The Broken Hours by Jacqueline Baker
(Talos | April 5, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: Jeffrey Alan Love.)

In the cold spring of 1936, Arthor Crandle, down-on-his luck and desperate for work, accepts a position in Providence, Rhode Island, as a live-in secretary/assistant for an unnamed shut-in.
He arrives at the gloomy colonial-style house to discover that his strange employer is an author of disturbing, bizarre fiction. Health issues have confined him to his bedroom, where he is never to be disturbed. But the writer, who Crandle knows only as “Ech-Pi,” refuses to meet him, communicating only by letters left on a table outside his room. Soon the home reveals other unnerving peculiarities. There is an ominous presence Crandle feels on the main stairwell. Light shines out underneath the door of the writer’s room, but is invisible from the street. It becomes increasingly clear there is something not right about the house or its occupant.

Haunting visions of a young girl in a white nightgown wandering the walled-in garden behind the house motivate Crandle to investigate the circumstances of his employer’s dark family history. Meanwhile, the unsettling aura of the house pulls him into a world increasingly cut off from reality, into black depths, where an unspeakable secret lies waiting.



The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran
(Running Press | May 24, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

A new terrifying collection inspired by the master of horror H.P. Lovecraft. The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu brings some of the best established and upcoming writers sharing their best Lovecraftian horror.


Despite what it says on the cover, the 25 stories listed for the table of contents include:

  1. “A Clutch” by Laird Barron
  2. “I Believe That We Will Win” by Nadia Bulkin
  3. “The Sea Inside” by Amanda Downum
  4. “Those Who Watch” by Ruthanna Emrys
  5. “Deep Eden” by Richard Gavin
  6. “In the Sacred Cave” by Lois H. Gresh
  7. “In Syllables of Elder Seas” by Lisa L. Hannett
  8. “It’s All the Same Road In the End” by Brian Hodge
  9. “The Peddler’s Tale, or, Isobel’s Revenge” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
  10. “Outside the House, Watching for the Crows by John Langan
  11. “Falcon-and-Sparrows” by Yoon Ha Lee
  12. “In the Ruins of Mohenjo-Daro” by Usman Tanveer Malik
  13. “The Cthulhu Navy Wife” by Sandra McDonald
  14. “Caro in Carno” by Helen Marshall
  15. “Legacy of Salt” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  16. “Backbite” by Norman Partridge
  17. “A Shadow of Thine Own Design” by W. H. Pugmire
  18. “Variations on Lovecraftian Themes” by Veronica Schanoes
  19. “An Open Letter to Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, from a Fervent Admirer” by Michael Shea
  20. “Just Beyond the Trailer Park” by John Shirley
  21. “Alexandra Lost” by Simon Strantzas
  22. “Umbilicus” by Damien Angelica Walters
  23. “The Future Eats Everything” by Don Webb
  24. “I Do Not Count the Hours” by Michael Wehunt
  25. “I Dress My Lover in Yellow” by A.C. Wise

So, not sure if this is the final list or an old lineup.


Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
(Harper | February 16, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.



The Age of Lovecraft edited by Carl H. Sederholm & Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock
(Univ Of Minnesota Press | April 1, 2016 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the American author of “weird tales” who died in 1937 impoverished and relatively unknown, has become a twenty-first-century star, cropping up in places both anticipated and unexpected. Authors, filmmakers, and shapers of popular culture like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Guillermo del Toro acknowledge his influence; his fiction is key to the work of posthuman philosophers and cultural critics such as Graham Harman and Eugene Thacker; and Lovecraft’s creations have achieved unprecedented cultural ubiquity, even showing up on the animated program South Park.

The Age of Lovecraft is the first sustained analysis of Lovecraft in relation to twenty-first-century critical theory and culture, delving into troubling aspects of his thought and writings. With contributions from scholars including Gothic expert David Punter, historian W. Scott Poole, musicologist Isabella van Elferen, and philosopher of the posthuman Patricia MacCormack, this wide-ranging volume brings together thinkers from an array of disciplines to consider Lovecraft’s contemporary cultural presence and its implications. Bookended by a preface from horror fiction luminary Ramsey Campbell and an extended interview with the central author of the New Weird, China Miéville, the collection addresses the question of “why Lovecraft, why now?” through a variety of approaches and angles.

A must for scholars, students, and theoretically inclined readers interested in Lovecraft, popular culture, and intellectual trends, The Age of Lovecraft offers the most thorough examination of Lovecraft’s place in contemporary philosophy and critical theory to date as it seeks to shed light on the larger phenomenon of the dominance of weird fiction in the twenty-first century.

Contributors: Jessica George; Brian Johnson, Carleton U; James Kneale, U College London; Patricia MacCormack, Anglia Ruskin U, Cambridge; Jed Mayer, SUNY New Paltz; China Miéville, Warwick U; W. Scott Poole, College of Charleston; David Punter, U of Bristol; David Simmons, Northampton U; Isabella van Elferen, Kingston U London.


About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

6 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown: The Lovecraft Edition! THE BROKEN HOURS vs. THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CTHULHU vs. LOVECRAFT COUNTRY vs. THE AGE OF LOVECRAFT

  1. All of these are pretty decent.

    “Lovecraft Country” is reminiscent of the covers from the pulp era. What I did not like about that one are the tentacle/ghost things at the bottom.

    “The Age of Lovecraft” made Lovecraft’s portrait look creepy (a task not that difficult). The layout and typography are also good, it may lack a little bit of contrast and the border was unnecessary.

    The layout in “The New Mammoth Book of Cthulhu” makes it appear like an old Hammer Movie or something, but the illustration (by itself cool looking) may not go well with it.

    “The Broken Hours” may be my favorite of the lot. Although the layout could be better, it is clean and evocative. You can tell it’s something about Lovecraft, but doesn’t tell you anything.

  2. Sylvia Bungle // December 26, 2015 at 10:40 am //

    I’m going with The Age Of Lovecraft. The portrait calls out to me but once I see the border, I step back & think it looks like a movie poster. But… i still prefer it over the others.

  3. David Korabell // December 27, 2015 at 2:28 am //

    I thought Mammoth book of Lovecraft a bit too on the nose. The Broken Hours felt not particular Lovecraftian. I thought Age of Lovecraft struck the balance between unsettling Lovecraft & obvious horror.

  4. The Broken Hours, hands down. Love’s work just keeps getting better.

  5. I love The Age of Lovecraft. It’s unsettling the 1st time you see it. I like both Lovecraft Country and The Broken Hours. Lovecraft Country has a cool pulpy look to it and I love the idea of KKK hoods as tentacles. The Broken Hours is fairly clean and minimalist with a hint of “things are not right here” going on. Honestly, I just didn’t like the cover for Mammoth Book of Lovecraft. Cthulhu over-dominates the cover and seems too cartoony to me. Of course, I do plan on reading all 4.

  6. Well, that’s not the cover for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF CTHULHU. (I know it is on Amazon, but that doesn’t make it true!) It will still be this “cartoonish” image, but I hope they made some changes…more intense color, change of type…getting the TITLE right and the number of stories…and I hope that’s not the final descriptive copy either as it is inaccurate and poorly written…

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