1. The Haunter of the Dark
was HPL's last story (other than The Night Ocean
, which was a collaborative work with a friend) before he died of cancer in 1937.
2. The church on Federal Hill that inspired Lovecraft's story was a real place, but NOT a Free Will Baptist church built of stone in 1810-1815, as suggested in the story, but a Roman Catholic church, called St. John's, built of red bricks in 1871. It was demolished in 1992 and the site is now a public park.
3. At the end of the tale, during Blake's final scribblings, he writes the name "Roderick Usher", who is one of the main characters from Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher
, which provides a hint of what happens at the end.
4. Robert Blake, the main character of the story, was based on real-world Robert Bloch, Lovecraft's friend and fellow author. Lovecraft had the "Blake" character die in this story as a (good-humoured) pay-back for one of Robert Bloch's own stories, The Shambler from the Stars
, where Bloch had a character killed who was clearly based on Lovecraft. This is what the following section of the story refers to:
His earlier stay in the city—a visit to a strange old man as deeply given to occult and forbidden lore as he—had ended amidst death and flame
5. After Lovecraft's death, Robert Bloch wrote a further story called The Shadow From the Steeple
, which tells of events concerning the Shining Trapezohedron and the Dr. Dexter who threw it into the ocean. Together, The Shambler
, The Haunter
and The Shadow
form a loose trilogy.
6. The history of the Shining Trapezohedron pays homage to several mythos tales, including "Yuggoth" from The Whisperer in Darkness
, the Pharaoh Nephran-Ka from The Outsider
, "the crinoid things of Anartica" from At the Mountains of Madness
and "the serpent-men of Valusia" from the tales of Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero Kull
So what did you think of the story? Any interesting thoughts/feelings/insights? What do you think happened at the end?
My personal favourite part of the story has always been where Robert first enters and explores the interior of the church. The feeling of desolation, silence and fear is almost tangible to me, as he pokes around a shadowy, long-abandoned, fear-shrouded, spider-haunted and BIRD-SHUNNED building, containing creepy occult literature and altered religious furniture (i.e. the ankh instead of the cross on the altar). Something about the idea of poking around silent, abandoned buildings really gives me the creeps, especially if questionable activities have been taking place therein a century or more ago.
Also, something about the quote...
The few saints depicted bore expressions distinctly open to criticism
...even though it is vague, gives me a really uneasy feeling.
I also like the ascent into the church's tower and the finding of the skeleton and the notes, providing terrible suggestions about the history of the cult.