Still Dead's "Old Man and the Dead", and "Secret of the Heart" features the same kind of literary in-joke. What Castle does when he links a character to another fiction is especially apt and unexpected; the circle is complete, a circle I think Lovecraft would've been too humble to include himself in.
What about mixing up the highest of Elizabethan high culture with works almost forgotten in the grotty pulps of pre-WWII era? The reliable Graham Masterton presents us with "Will," a terrific little mashup of the Bard of Avon and the Gentleman from Providence: it seemed as if Shakespeare had achieved his huge success as a playwright by striking a bargain with 'Y'g Southothe,' which was some kind of primeval life force 'from a time when God was not.'" You can bet this reward comes at a price. Masterton's uses real Shakespeare history, of course, and some bold imaginative origins for the Globe Theater and the fire that destroyed it to create one of Lovecraft's Legacy best stories.
Chet Williamson's "From the Papers of Helmut Hecker" is an epistolary piece about a snobby literary writer whose work keeps getting compared to Lovecraft's, which enrages him; he's the heir to Kafka and Borges, winner of the Booker Prize and Faulkner Award! Poor guy gets what's coming to him. "The Blade and the Claw" from Hugh B. Cave is set in Haiti, so it's nice to get out of the usual environs, but I found the story lacking in Lovecraftiana, and its happy ending dampens the horror.
Brian McNaughton (above) writes with a noxious, devilish wit, regaling the reader with a Clark Ashton Smith-style bit of grave and grue, recalling HPL's own "The Hound" or "The Tomb." It's sweet, funny, gross, completely satisfying. I must have more McNaughton! And I kinda hope there are more stories of Meryphillia and her "coffin-cracking jaws."
Gahan Wilson's "H.P.L." is the most affectionate story included, a charming trifle of the writer still alive at nearly 100 and how he got that way. A fellow pulp scribbler visits Lovecraft at his home in Providence, and today he's a successful author living in his upkept childhood home that boasts an enormous two-story library. Wish-fulfillment at its finest—what HPL fan would not want to peruse that man's book collection? You'll be able to tell where Wilson's going but it's a worthwhile trip just the same.
Crime writer Ed Gorman delivers a killer serial killer tale, "The Order of Things Unknown," written in no-nonsense prose and tersely invoking a "vile god" and a burial ground for sacrificial victims. Quite good; I'm gonna have to look into Gorman's crime novels I think.
Pine Barrens, into which the narrator and an old college friend venture so the latter can explore the legends of the Jersey Devil, and perhaps more. Strongly in "Colour out of Space" mode with a welcome lack of garbled phonetics, Wilson's rather pedestrian prose isn't up to the task of imbuing those dark forests and empty landscapes with dread or weirdness. He reaches for it, it's a good story, but it didn't quite get there for me; no frisson of Lovecraftian (or Blackwoodian) menace. Obviously the editors thought highly of it, and I've seen it referenced elsewhere. Maybe it's just me...He stood as if naked in the moonlight and looked up and saw the moon and the stars and sensed for the first time that beyond them, somehow, there was another reality, one few ever glimpsed, one that filled early graves and asylums alike.When he put the girl in the trunk, he was careful to set her on the tarpaulin. She had begun to leak.
Lovecraft's Legacy is an easy recommendation: only a small number of stories are below par; a solid many are quite good, and three or four are terrific and deserve to be included in future Lovecraft anthologies not consisting of original material. Mythos fans probably already have a copy but if not, go for it. I got the hardcover as an Xmas gift back in the godforsaken year of 1990 and had only ever read a couple stories in it. Never got rid of it and so this scary solstice season I'm glad I finally went back!