FORGOTTEN BOOKS #199: TITUS CROW by Brian Lumley


If you are a fan of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthuthu Mythos, you might find these novels of Brian Lumley entertaining. Lumley is best known for his Necroscope series. But early in his career, Lumley wrote these horror novels which TOR Books reprinted in the late 1990s. The books are available online and in most libraries. Titus Crow is a an amalgam of Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. Volume One is an omnibus edition of The Burrowers Beneath (giant malignant worms!) and The Transition of Titus Crow (attack of the Hounds of Tindalos!). Volume Two includes The Clock of Dreams and Spawn of the Winds. Volume Three concludes with In the Moons of Borea and Elysia . Try as he might, Lumley cannot capture the trademark Lovecraft dread in these novels. Yes, scary horrible things attack our hero. But the atmosphere cannot approach Lovecraft’s best work like “The Dunwich Horror” or “Pickman’s Model.” Still, I found these Cthuthu Mythos novels amusing and you might too.

14 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #199: TITUS CROW by Brian Lumley

    1. george Post author

      Sergio, the best practitioner of the CTHULHU MYTHOS is…Lovecraft. None of his imitators, including Lumley, can capture Lovecaft’s marvelous sense of dread.

      Reply
  1. Jeff Meyerson

    They do sound like fun.

    It’s been a long time since I read Lovecraft and I agree with you – no one else quite captures his ability to make you shivver.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Lovecraft could make you shiver within the first paragraph of some of his stories, Jeff. None of the Lovecraft imitators come close to his genius.

      Reply
  2. Jerry House

    There were some Titus Crow stories in Lumley’s early Arkham House collection THE CALLER OF THE BLACK and THE HORROR AT OAKDEENE, George. They were fairly good pastiches but only Lovecraft could do Lovecraft best. Titus Crow was an early creation in Lumley’s career and it shows. He is an interesting character who is more recommended than is essential.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      I found the Titus Crow books more like adventure novels, Jerry, than horror novels in the Lovecraft tradition. They’re entertaining reads, but as you say not essential.

      Reply
  3. Richard R.

    Though I have read and enjoyed Lovecraft, generally I don’t read horror. Yet your description of a combination of Holmes and Jones caught me off guard, and interests me, plus your last comment to Jerry. I may have to try one of these. I assume the books stand alone?

    Reply
  4. Todd Mason

    Richard, Lumley’s Lovecraftian fiction, very much including the Necroscope novels, is indeed boy’s adventure fiction crossed with HPL to a greater degree than essentially anyone. And while I find the best of Lovecraft’s acolytes (Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Fred Chappell, Ramsey Campbell, TED Klein, Thomas Ligotti…and his compeer, Clark Ashton Smith) all better at their frequent best than Lovecraft at his occasional best…but all of them are at their worst at their most Lovecraftian…they can’t do Lovecraft as well as HPL does.

    Reply
  5. Todd Mason

    Lumley’s best fiction is his least Lovecraftian. Usually short fiction. “Fruiting Body” comes to mind. (Jorge Luis Borges even dedicated a story to HPL, “There Are More Things”…also better than almost all HPL, though not a top JLB.)

    Avram Davidson and Fritz Leiber had a genial argument for years about HPL…Davidson con, Leiber pro. Joyce Carol Oates also on your side, George.

    Reply
  6. Todd Mason

    But wordy and prone to fustian. Davidson was particularly amused by how much was Indescribable in his fiction. His concepts were good…and, as you know, I’m a huge fan of how, particularly, Bloch and Leiber refined those concepts and put them to their own purposes…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>