Halloread: Robert E. Howard’s Pigeons from Hell

Howard’s one of those authors who gets me pumped, excited to read. That excitement is key these days, as I’ve tended to pick up a book, get 20-30 pages in, and lose interest. As time becomes a more valuable commodity, one necessarily becomes a lot choosier in these things.

As I’ve not done a Hallowread in a while, I decided to make a try for it this year. I succeeded at the reading part, but failed to do any written documentation. Alas and alack!

So a couple months ago, I finally read the notorious “Pigeons from Hell.” Just a few quick thoughts:

1. I’m not particularly squeamish or critical of “old-fashioned” or offensive language. Judging the past by today’s standards and sensibilities is a tricky business, if you ask me, and one has to wonder how the future will judge us. Still, some of the language in this one did initially jar me. No, I’m not calling Howard a racist.

2. The story itself was interesting, but I didn’t find it terribly exciting or frightening. For Howard, I found it a little bland. But judging from other works of his, I think it may just be that the setting and setup didn’t really resonate with me.

3. “Zuvembies” – cool little zombie variation there. The “Black Brew” was also a nice touch.

4. The voodoo man, Jacob, initially brought N’Longa to mind.

If you’re a Howard fan, this story may be worth a read; certainly if you’re curious about his work in the horror genre. Unfortunately I don’t think it lives up to the coolness of this cover:



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