Kiernan, Caitlin - Houses Under The Sea
Fat anthology of mostly Lovecraft inspired or derived stories.
A found curio and odd encounter near a shipwreck off Scotland, spurs a geologist to write a letter to one Dr. Watson. Yes! That Dr. Watson.
In “Pickman’s Other Model,” an elusive silent film actress leaves a wake of scandal and blasphemy.
The chance finding of a prehistoric fossil sends a researcher off to the ghost town of Innsmouth.
In the title story, a mass suicide by drowning captures media attention. Briefly. Afterward, a free lance reporter digs into a sketchy history and clues that are invisible because they are conspicuous.
Unfortunately, this collection has, to my mind, some padding in the form of the Providence underworld. The supernatural underbelly of decadent vampires, abducted changelings, short tempered ghouls. These have nothing to do with HPL or the mythos. This is Southern Gothic (reference the Dancy Flammarion yarns) shoe-horned into Rhode Island. Yes, there are fans of these, but I am not part of their numbers. For me, they are akin to Fantasy Island. If you are of similar bent, these disappear midway in the collection.
More satisfaction is found in a quartet of Dandridge stories, set in the creaking house, battered by the sea. The gatekeeper, trapped between worlds, is mangled beyond recognition.
A personal favorite, “The Cats Of River Street,” set in Innsmouth, 1925. Several homes are observed, each with cats, from household members to squatters.
Cats, with whom I have shared my life with for 40+ years, can be friendly, opinionated, indifferent, yet all are highly territorial. As in this grim ode to felines, where the cats hold the line.