Tuesday Terror! The Moon-Bog by HP Lovecraft

Wraiths and frogs…

HP Lovecraft has become an annual fixture on Tuesday Terror! ever since I first came across him and mocked his overblown style a few years back. Somehow his “weird” imagery wormed itself into my brain and, while I still occasionally mock him, I’ve come to admire his work and to realise how influential it has been on horror and weird fiction right up to the present day. The porpy and I first read this story last year and still remember some of the imagery distinctly, so it seems a perfect choice for this week’s…

The Moon-Bog
by HP Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft

Somewhere, to what remote and fearsome region I know not, Denys Barry has gone. I was with him the last night he lived among men, and heard his screams when the thing came to him; but all the peasants and police in County Meath could never find him, or the others, though they searched long and far. And now I shudder when I hear the frogs piping in swamps, or see the moon in lonely places.

Ah, frogs! Deliciously Lovecraftian! Having made his money in America, Denys Barry has purchased the decayed ancestral castle of his family in Ireland and has spent the last few years restoring it to its former glory, much to the joy of the local peasantry who benefited from the work and money he provided.

But in time there came troubles, and the peasants ceased to bless him, and fled away instead as from a doom. And then he sent a letter and asked me to visit him, for he was lonely in the castle with no one to speak to save the new servants and labourers he had brought from the north.

Artist unknown

Our narrator hastens to be by his friend’s side…

I had reached Kilderry in the summer sunset, as the gold of the sky lighted the green of the hills and groves and the blue of the bog, where on a far islet a strange olden ruin glistened spectrally. That sunset was very beautiful, but the peasants at Ballylough had warned me against it and said that Kilderry had become accursed, so that I almost shuddered to see the high turrets of the castle gilded with fire.

That evening, Denys tells him of the trouble…

The peasants had gone from Kilderry because Denys Barry was to drain the great bog. For all his love of Ireland, America had not left him untouched, and he hated the beautiful wasted space where peat might be cut and land opened up. The legends and superstitions of Kilderry did not move him, and he laughed when the peasants first refused to help, and then cursed him and went away to Ballylough with their few belongings as they saw his determination.

Art by bealinn via deviantart.com

Our narrator laughs too. Oh, how they laugh! Superstitious peasants! What rational man would pay attention to their absurd fears?

They had to do with some preposterous legend of the bog, and of a grim guardian spirit that dwelt in the strange olden ruin on the far islet I had seen in the sunset. There were tales of dancing lights in the dark of the moon, and of chill winds when the night was warm; of wraiths in white hovering over the waters, and of an imagined city of stone deep down below the swampy surface. But foremost among the weird fancies, and alone in its absolute unanimity, was that of the curse awaiting him who should dare to touch or drain the vast reddish morass.

Here’s a tip for anyone thinking of moving to a new neighbourhood: always listen to the fears of the local peasants! Denys proceeds with his plans, bringing in labourers from outside since the locals have left. Meantime our narrator’s nights are disturbed by dreams of wild music and mysterious figures on the bog. And then on the night before the bog is due to be drained, he is woken by the sound of shrill piping and a strange light…

Terrible and piercing was the shaft of ruddy refulgence that streamed through the Gothic window, and the whole chamber was brilliant with a splendour intense and unearthly.

Finally plucking up his courage, he looks out of his tower room window at the bog below…

Half gliding, half floating in the air, the white-clad bog-wraiths were slowly retreating toward the still waters and the island ruin in fantastic formations suggesting some ancient and solemn ceremonial dance. Their waving translucent arms, guided by the detestable piping of those unseen flutes, beckoned in uncanny rhythm to a throng of lurching labourers who followed dog-like with blind, brainless, floundering steps as if dragged by a clumsy but resistless daemon-will. As the naiads neared the bog, without altering their course, a new line of stumbling stragglers zigzagged drunkenly out of the castle from some door far below my window, groped sightlessly across the courtyard and through the intervening bit of village, and joined the floundering column of labourers on the plain.

And then the shrieking begins…

Art by Stephen Fabian

* * * * *

I think this is my favourite of all the Lovecraft stories I’ve read. A wonderful mix of Gothic horror and weird fiction, the frogs are not to be missed, and the whole thing is full of Lovecraft’s amazing imagery. I read it in the gorgeous British Library hardback, The Gothic Tales of HP Lovecraft – a book that I highly recommend both for the quality of the stories and for the tactile beauty of the book. However if you’d like to read this story online, here’s a link.  I warn you, though, if you ever let Lovecraft inside your head, you may never be able to rid yourself of him…

The porpy is refusing to come out of the tree till
he’s sure there are no frogs around…

Fretful Porpentine rating:  😮 😮 😮 😮 😮

Overall story rating:           😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

29 thoughts on “Tuesday Terror! The Moon-Bog by HP Lovecraft

  1. Shame on you for scaring Porpy 😉😄 I’m not surprised he won’t come out of the tree. Is that a bog wraith…or a frog 😂 I think I’ll leave Lovecraft to you…

  2. Ah, yes, the peasants’ tales! Scoff at them at your own peril! It’s so interesting, isn’t it, FictionFan, how often a good horror story includes someone telling an old tale, and someone else not believing it. It’s used to great effect in the genre, I think. And what atmosphere in this story! There’s something about a bog that makes it a great setting for a tale like this one.

    • Yes, indeed, you’d think people would know they should listen to the peasants by now – clearly none of them have ever read horror stories! I must admit Lovecraft is masterly at using natural things like bogs and frogs to create something eerily supernatural – and he does love his adjectives… 😉

  3. Those frogs have turned porpy GREEN! No wonder he won’t come out 😱 But I have to say this does sound rather delicious. And the writing in those extracts is splendid. My partner is a huge Lovecraft fan…. maybe I could give him this book for Christmas…. checking on the quality within by reading this one beforehand of course… 🤔 👻 🐸😁

    • Hahaha – I know! I think he should sue his hairdresser. His spikes seem to have gone soft and fluffy too! 😂 I would think a Lovecraft fan would really appreciate this book, although if he’s a die-hard fan he’ll probably have read a lot, if not all, of the stories before. It is a beautifully produced book, though. I love Lovecraft’s writing even though I mock it – he never uses one adjective when four hellish, blasphemous, bloated, fungoid ones will do!!

    • I only read him for the first time around four years ago, but he’s become a major fixture in my life now – his style is so overblown but his imagery is wonderful. This would be a great story to start with… 😀

  4. Like the porpy, I’m not too fond of frogs either. Still, this sounds like a perfect tale for this time of year. It sounds like the superstitious peasants knew something these “rational” fellows didn’t!

    • No, frogs always seem a bit creepy to me and once Lovecraft has messed with them they become downright terrifying! Haha – all these people who keep ignoring the peasants have clearly never read any horror stories! It’s like all these stupid women who insist on going into the spooky house… 😀

  5. Last week it was ants, this week, frogs, whatever next? I reckon Porpy has the right idea and is best staying where he is for now.

    • Hahaha – yes, I find all these mutated created far scarier than most ghosts! And Lovecraft really has a thing about frogs and fish – I now consider them all to be potential monstrosities. My favourite Lovecraft abomination has to be the infamous fish/frog aliens of Innsmouth… 😱

    • Hahaha – I know! Do these people never read books?? It’s like all these people who agree to spend the night in haunted houses to prove the ghost doesn’t exist… 😱

    • It’s a fairly short one – I try not to pick very lengthy ones for TT posts. And Lovecraft really is wonderful at making creatures terrifying! Haha – the porpy has come down from the tree now and is quivering with excitement to find a story for next week… 😀

  6. I really love your Tuesday Terror reviews! You always seem to find some fascinating and creepy story that I would never want to read and yet I’m always left quite tempted!

    • Haha – thank you! I’m glad you enjoy them and maybe one day I’ll tempt you to click the link! The porpy and I do enjoy spending Sunday afternoons searching for a good story – it’s become a tradition… 😉 🦔

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