Like Lovecraft Country
, but overseas.
Lovecraft Country is typically set in New England, home of horror writers Howard Phillips Lovecraft
and Stephen King
, and many of their respective followers/imitators. This makes it a difficult place for writers of Lovecraftian Fiction
who do not have a Yankee background to write about.
The solution was suggested to British writer Ramsey Campbell by Lovecraft follower August Derleth: Create your own equivalent in a place you know, either your home country or a place you have visited. This has led to the creation of variant Lovecraftian settings appropriate to other locales.
Shifting the setting of a Cosmic Horror Story
to, for instance, England presents problems. As the old saying goes, "An Englishman thinks a hundred miles is a long way while an American thinks a hundred years is a long time." In other words, England is a much smaller country with a much longer history. It's much easier to believe that an English village was the site of some dreadful secret dating back to medieval, Roman or Pagan times.Lovecraft, in contrast, had a more limited historical horizon in his New England tales, with the early 17th century standing as his temporal ne plus ultra. However, it's much harder to believe that cosmic events could happen in little ol' England and nobody
would notice — whereas in a big place like the United States (even in a single region like New England), isolation comes relatively cheap. (Essentially, in Lovecraft Country
, the old secrets are very secret
, whereas in Campbell Country
the old secrets are very old
By contrast, small European and British settings are far better for simpler horror stories, such as Haunted House
tales, as there are so many old houses, castles and abbeys around the place. As for the rest of the world, it's usually not difficult for a skilled writer to come up with a local setting that can accommodate your Cosmic Horror Story
, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, etc. For a similar setting only somewhere in the Deep South
, see Southern Gothic
Not to be confused with Campbell County
, which can be found in Northeastern Tennessee, near the border with Kentucky, or Bruce Campbell
Country, which has more comedy and a higher probability of survival due to, well, Bruce Campbell
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Anime & Manga
- Combined with the Deep South in Scare Tactics, where a very Lovecraftian clan of ghouls dwell in the Appalachians, and have been involved in a decades-long feud with a clan of hillbilly werwolves.
- John Constantine usually operates out of London, but he's been known to take a break from the unrelenting horrors of the city and relax with the unrelenting horrors of the countryside.
- The Monster Club features a little village just off the main road in pleasant English countryside, which has been ruled by ghouls since Puritan times.
- Northfork, Montana seems to be this sort of locale, a flat gray expanse doomed to be flooded by the building of a dam.
- Dagon, a movie version of The Shadow Over Innsmouth is set on the Spanish coast ... apparently somewhere in or near Galicia.
- The Wicker Man (the original, anyway) had an interesting way of giving its setting physical isolation - it was set on the (fictional) remote Scottish island of Summerisle.
- When Richard Matheson adapted his novel Hell House to film (The Legend of Hell House), he moved it from its Lovecraft Country setting to the English countryside.
- Cast a Deadly Spell brings the Cthulhu Mythos to Los Angeles.
- AJ Annila's Sauna features a Medieval Nordic version of this trope.
- Most obviously, Ramsey Campbell's stories set in Brichester and other fictional Gloucestershire towns. Wikipedia has an overview here.
- Even before Ramsey Campbell, turn-of-the-century author M. R. James was exploring both English and continental-European patches of what could be called Campbell Country.
- Most of Arthur Machen's novellas and short stories, and his novel The Great God Pan, have a rural Welsh or London background in which sinister ancient horrors lurk and are capable of interbreeding with modern people. H.P. Lovecraft acknowledged Machen's great influence on the genesis of the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Brian Lumley created a Lovecraft Country of his own in NE England, complete with a satellite colony of Deep Ones.
- The Hungarian village of Stregiocavar in Robert E. Howard's The Black Stone.
- While Stephen King normally sets his stories in Lovecraft Country, his short story Crouch End was a Cthulhu Mythos story set in Crouch End in north London.
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the scenes of Voldemort's family seem very Lovecraftian/Campbellian, in that they are portrayed as horribly inbred as a consequence of being such an ancient family, a theme Lovecraft often touched upon.
- Heck, the mere tone and description of the place they lived in sounds a little Lovecraftian itself. No wonder Tom Riddle turned out so screwed up...
- Harry Potter also contains the Isle of Drear off the northern tip of Scotland, where the deadly monsters called Quintapeds are contained. In fact, Hogwarts' own location might qualify, set off as it is in an unregarded bit of Scotland (being Unplottable helps).
- H.P. Lovecraft himself did this: The Rats in the Walls is set in England.
- Charles Stross did a neat thing with The Laundry Series (essentially Spy Fiction meets Cosmic Horror Story): the English lost city of Dunwich (which Lovecraft used as a name for a fictional town) was not lost at all, but rather the training ground for the Laundry, a secret organization that prevents "reality incursions." Apparently someone in the Laundry noticed the very odd census reports, and the citizens were relocated and the town erased off the maps. The only way to get there is with a specially-programmed GPS unit and a key for the appropriate wards. Stross' Dunwich is also slowly sinking into the water.
- Shadows Over Baker Street is a collection of short stories by different authors, about Sherlock Holmes investigating various Lovecraftian mysteries.
- "Tales Of The Shadowmen", a series of various anthology crossover books, has had various stories involving known literary characters (Hercule Poirot, a Doc Savage analogue, etc.) tangle with Lovecraftian creatures in various locales around Europe and elsewhere.
- Neil Gaiman wrote a short story titled "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" set in the apparently original Innsmouth on the British coast, as seen through the eyes of a Genre Blind American tourist. (The title is the name of the pub's signature beer.) The local residents are quite Genre Savvy, and they don't think much of Howard P.
- Carnacki's adventures happen all around Great Britain and Ireland, and he's based in Chelsea, London.
- John Buchan (best known for The 39 Steps) wrote various stories in this setting, such as "The Outgoing of the Tide" and "The Watcher by the Threshold".
- "Anneke Johansen's Portrait", an original companion piece to The Call of Cthulhu, is set in Oslo, Norway. It can be read here.
Live Action TV
- Dark Fall: The Journal uses the fictional West Country village of Dowerton as the site of supernatural disappearances dating back centuries.
- Barrow Hill is set in a spooky Cornwall full of creepy ruins and folklore.
- The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure is apparently set in the fictional East Anglian village of Saxton.
- Averted in Scratches, which is located in Northumberland, but imported its curse-lore from the Darkest Africa trope and Madwoman in the Attic.
- Eternal Darkness features three main locations which harbor a dark, old secret pertaining to the awakening of the Eldritch Abomination. The first is the site where Pious Augustus snags the artifact, which is later visited by an Aladdin type character seeking a jewel to win a woman's heart, a slave building a tower over the location, and a firefighter putting out Iraqi oil fires. The second is a temple in Cambodia which houses Eldritch Abomination #4, a dead, ancient god more powerful than the three primary ones of the story. The third is a cathedral in France, which is at the center of a plot to assassinate Charlemagne and is later used as a WWI hospital where they feed the wounded to the Eldritch Abomination in the basement. Yeah, full of this.
- Judging from Gregory's implied proclivities and the uselessness of the police, Rule of Rose is set here, in some undefined part of the English countryside in the 1930s.
- The All-Gods Village in Fatal Frame 2.