H.P. Lovecraft gained fame for his abundant output of stories and letters to his acquaintances. It’s often said that if he were alive today, his email would be marked as spam due to the sheer volume of his writing. This gives an indication of the extent of his literary output. With such a vast collection of stories to choose from, it can be daunting to decide where to start. But fear not, we’re here to guide you through the world of Eldritch Horror (strange or unearthly; eerie story that causes feelings of fear, dread, and shock) with our list of the best H.P. Lovecraft stories.

Herewith NerdiPop’s 13 best HP Lovecraft stories.

 (1) The Shadow over Innsmouth

The Shadow over Innsmouth, one of Lovecraft’s most famous stories, follows a student on a tour of New England. He discovers a piece of exotic jewellery in a museum and discovers that it came from the nearby run-down seaport of Innsmouth. He visits the run-down town and witnesses disturbing events before meeting a local who reveals the dark secret of forgotten Innsmouth. For those unfamiliar with Lovecraft’s work, The Shadow over Innsmouth is an excellent introduction.

(2) The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu is one of Lovecraft’s most famous works, and it is one of the stories that introduces us to The Great Old One, Cthulhu, and the Necronomicon, two of Lovecraft’s most famous creations. The story is told from the perspectives of several characters. The Horror in Clay is the story of Henry Anthony Wilcox, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, who bases his statue on delirious dreams of “great cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror.” Inspector Legrasse investigates the activities of the Cthulhu Cult in The tale of Inspector Legrasse.

(3) At the Mountains of Madness

The Mountains of Madness - Del Toro

One of Lovecraft’s longest stories is At the Mountains of Madness. It tells the story of a Miskatonic University expedition to the Arctic and what explorer Dr. William Dyer of Miskatonic University discovers there. Dr. William Dyer tells the story, detailing the expedition’s events in the hope of discouraging future explorers who wish to visit the continent.

Fun fact: When Danforth cries “Tekeli-li” as they flee the arctic at the end of the novella, he is actually quoting from Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

(4) The Thing on the Doorstep

The Thing on the Doorstep is another classic entry into H.P. Lovecraft’s world. It tells the story of the narrator, Daniel Upton, and the rumor that he murdered his best friend, Edward Derby. The plot follows his account of what occurred in an attempt to prove his innocence and that he is not a murderer. He discusses his friend’s life and career, his wife, Asenath Waite, and their marriage. Asenath brings three unpleasant servants from her hometown of Innsmouth.

Fun fact: The house in the story is based on the real Crowninshield-Bentley House in Salem, Massachusetts.

(5) The Statement of Randolph Carter

The Statement of Randolph Carter, another H.P. Lovecraft classic, tells the story of Randolph Carter, who went in search of an ancient graveyard with his friend Harley Warren. Warren believes that demons can travel from the surface world to the underworld via a portal.

Fun fact: The character of Randolph Carter is actually based on H.P. Lovecraft himself.

(6) The Outsider

HP Lovecraft or Randolph Carter

One of my favorite H.P. Lovecraft stories is The Outsider. I won’t say too much because the ending is what makes this story so memorable. I’ve always thought that if done properly, The Outsider would be a fantastic short film to watch. However, I don’t think people would want to watch it in first person. The Outsider is the story of a man trapped in an old eldritch castle. He has no idea how he got there or what he is doing there, but he is desperate to leave.

(7) Dagon

Dagon is a personal favorite of mine, despite the fact that it doesn’t reveal much about Dagon himself. It does provide some insight into the Deepones and their way of life. You can read this before or after The Shadow over Innsmouth, but I recommend reading The Shadow over Innsmouth first so you understand what’s going on.

Dagon tells the story of a man who shipwrecks on an island that doesn’t exist and descends into the island, discovering a canyon with a massive monolith covered in strange hieroglyphs.

(8) The Rats in the Walls

The Rats in the Walls is one of my favorite stories by H.P. Lovecraft. It tells the story of a De la Poer descendant who moved from Massachusetts to his ancestral estate in England, known as Exham Priory. Unfortunately, the estate has been abandoned. To the chagrin of the locals, he begins restoring the old family estate. Soon after moving in, he and his cat notice rats scurrying behind the estate’s walls.

(9) The Music of Erich Zann

The Music of Erich Zann tells the story of a university student who is forced to take lodging in the only place he can afford due to a lack of funds. On a street called “Rue d’Auseil,” in a strange part of town he has never seen before, he finds an apartment in a nearly empty building – the only lodger in the building is an old mute German man named Erich Zann. Erich Zann is a violinist in the local orchestra who lives on the top floor of an apartment and at night plays strange melodies he has never heard before.

Fun fact: Alexey Voytenko composed “The music of Erich Zann” for a violin solo in 2009, which perfectly fits the theme of the music Erich Zann would have played.

(10) Pickman’s Model

Pickman’s Model is another excellent entry for those new to the world of H.P. Lovecraft. It tells the story of Richard Upton Pickman’s friend who paints and creates horrifying images. His works are brilliantly executed, but they are so horrifying that he is expelled from the Boston Art Club. He is also shunned by his classmates. Pickman eventually shows his friend his personal gallery, which is hidden away in a rundown city slum. As they delve deeper and deeper into Pickman’s work, the room appears to become darker and darker.

(12) The Dunwich Horror

The Dunwich Horror is another excellent introduction to the world of H.P. Lovecraft. The story is set in the isolated, desolate, and dilapidated village of Dunwich. It tells the story of Mad Old Whateley and Lavinia Whateley, who had their son, Wilbur Whately, and the strange events that occurred during his birth and development. Wilbur grows at an abnormally fast rate, reaching manhood in less than a decade. The Whateleys buy more and more cattle, but the number of the herd never increases, and the cattle in his field mysteriously become afflicted with severe open wounds.

Fun fact: The story of The Dunwich Horror has been adapted into a film version in the 1970’s and has been published as a comic by IDW Publishing.

(13) The Haunter of the Dark

The Haunter of the Dark is another excellent entry into H.P. Lovecraft’s work and a must-read for fans of Cosmic / Eldritch horror. The Haunter of the Dark is H.P. Lovecraft’s final published story before his death in 1937. The story is set in Providence, Rhode Island, and revolves around the Church of Starry Wisdom. The Shining Trapezohedron is used by the cult to summon a terrible being from the depths of space and time.