These are the strangest stories. They are less strong than Edgar Allan Poe's stories of a similar vein - almost childlike in some ways. Invariably the expose at the end of the story is tame, rather trivial. And I don't think I have ever read the words 'horrible' or 'horror' so often. To be truthful about it, I don't really like being told something is horrible - I need to be shown. Often Lovecraft absolutely declines to do this. Take for example 'The Statement of Randolph Carter'. This is a engaging yarn but we never know what the horror is, we just have cries of anguish reporting it. Is this carelessness or laziness? Or is it like a sound heard in the distance - peripherally - unrecoverable and disturbing, keeping you on the edge of the seat waiting just in case it sounds again?
Despite, for me, the poor structure of the stories and the weakness of their endings, I find it impossible to criticise Lovecraft's imaginativeness. These are very creative stories. It is commonly believed that Poe showed great psychological insight in his stories, but what does Lovecraft use as the trigger for his imagination? Is it a dread of science - an irrational fear? I'm not at all sure that I know and perhaps this adds to the intrigue of these stories.
I also enjoyed the notes to these stories with their historic and critical insights. (Although what this statement means puzzled both my wife and I: 'The seemingly straightforward story of an explorer ....... appears more complex than it seems.')