The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

Aside from the horror classics of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Call of Cthulhu” among one of Lovecraft’s most famous and known stories is “The Dunwich Horror”. The story is often criticized by scholars for being somewhat “formulaic” and for being the exception in Lovecraft’s ideas of an indifferent cosmos and humans being infinitely insignificant in the eyes of the universe.

Rather, the story is a classic battle between good and evil and is one of the few stories in which a hero is seen defeating the villain, although the triumph is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Without spoiling too much, since I heavily encourage people, especially horror fans, to read the story, the tale is of the terror that is Wilbur Whateley and his family.

Born to the deformed albino Lavinia Whateley, they lived in Dunwich. Mainly isolating themselves from the rest of the world, Wilbur was obviously something else. Reaching maturity by the age of ten and being an eight foot, misshapen being who caused dogs around him to go into frenzies, Wilbur was being groomed by his grandfather, Old Whateley, in what many townsfolk presumed to be dark magic.

Progressively, their house increases in size as Old Whateley and Wilbur add more floors and enlarge it, to accommodate for… something. They shy away from people but routinely go to the top of Sentinel Hill to chant in odd hours before hiding away. It all goes downhill when Old Whateley dies, and Lavinia mysteriously disappears.

Overall, while the story is very in line with further rounding the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, it is quite different from Lovecraft’s typical stories. This is more focused on humans and despite how little the great cosmos thinks of them, they were able to vanquish the horrible monstrosity, although the true threat still lurks in the dark periphery that humans are not allowed to glimpse into.

It feels real, Dunwich feels real, the terror of what characters go through feels real. It is the unspeakable terror that desecrates a small town. It lurks in the night but is preceding something far, far worse.

Nevertheless, humans prevented what would have been a global disaster, even if it may inevitably be temporary. While the story may not necessarily be about this triumph, but rather that we will never truly know the extent and power to which beings beyond us possess, and how many people are willing to give their devotion and whole life to it.

This is one of Lovecraft’s more accessible stories if you will. It is weird, yet grounded in his unconventional reality, and is an interesting mix of science fiction and horror. He gives vivid descriptions of the area and surroundings, immersing you into it, allowing you to visualize what types of horrors will befall this tiny outskirt village.

It is not like his typical stories, it has appeal for larger audiences, is weirder and almost surreal than his bone-chilling horror and is among his more popular works. He makes many exceptions to his rules and theories on this universe and mythos he has created, and although “The Dunwich Horror” bends that, it is done so to a great effect. A wonderful tale is created in the process, and his pantheon of horrors is expanded.

-Farrah M.

Th Dunwich Horror and other tales from H.P. Lovecraft are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Recalled to Life

A Tale of Two Cities is a historical novel written by Charles Dickens. The story happened in England and France since 1775 which occurs during a period of social unrest and turbulence.

The forces that lead to the French revolution, clash with a group of people in England and lead to their fates irreversibly intertwined. The novel focuses on the resurrection through the setting of the French revolution. Thereinto, “Recalled to life” , the most significant part in each book, presents a prominent tale of resurrection. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens examines the theme of resurrection through the character of Dr. Alexandre Manette and the event of rescuing Charles Darnay.

Dickens elaborates resurrection with the character of Dr. Manette, who stayed in Bastille and suffered the mental pressure for 18 years. In Chapter 2 Book 1 of A Tale of Two Cities, Mr. Lorry gives a message to Jerry which Jerry will transfer to his bank. “Jarvis Lorry states, Jerry, say that my answer was, ‘RECALLED TO LIFE’”(Dickens 14). Jerry Cruncher, the messenger, gets confused about this blazing strange answer. Jarvis Lorry’s answer reveals a surprising piece of information regarding Dr. Manette. In fact, Dr. Manette reappears in public which nobody knows whether he lived or died in the past because of such a long time. His eighteen-year imprisonment has constituted a sorts of death which makes “Recalled to life” indicates that Mr. Lorry brings him back to life from the “death”.

-Xiaoyu Z.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

“thank u, next” Review

Pop singer, Ariana Grande, released a new song called “thank u, next” on November 3. Though I’m not a huge fan of Grande, I love how her song is not only catchy but empowering and eyeopening.

Ariana became engaged to Pete Davidson not long after breaking up with singer, Mac Miller, in early 2018. Miller died in early September from drug overdose and though Ariana was engaged, she still felt the heavy pain from losing someone she once loved. Davidson and Grande broke off their engagement in October but, Ariana embraced the single life, singing about it in “thank u, next.”

In a society that encourages “clapping back” and stirring up drama, Grande’s song is refreshing and genuine. Rather than wanting to throw shade at her exes, Ariana wants to thank them for making her a stronger individual. They all hold an important and special place in her heart because “one taught [her] love / one taught [her] patience / and one taught [her] pain” and now, “[she’s] so amazing.” Without these past relationships, Ariana wouldn’t be the person she is today.

In my opinion, another important aspect of the song is Ariana’s focus on self-love and self-betterment. While her exes taught her love, patience and pain, she also taught herself love, patience and how to deal with pain, which ultimately made her a better person. Grande explains that she found someone else to love, referring to herself as that “someone else.” Grande promises that the self-love she holds for herself is “gon’ last” and she “ain’t worried bout nothing.'”

Self-love and appreciation is a noticeable trend among today’s youth. Feminists advocate strength and success without the aid of men. Mental health victims strive to put their health and progress first. Social media posts remind individuals (whether they are fresh out of a relationship or have been single for awhile) of their self worth and hype them up. Grande’s song advocates this confident self-love and explains that no one should feel ashamed for putting themselves first.

Grande reveals herself as a self-aware, vulnerable and mature artist through this song, which are rare qualities to find in modern day artists. She teaches listeners that not all relationships are meant to last but they all can teach important lessons. Heartbreak can be a negative or a beautiful part of life and Ariana believes that it’s up to the individual to make it positive.

-Jessica T.

Looking for music by Ariana Grande? Visit Hoopla for an extensive catalog of her music free to download with a Mission Viejo Library card. 

Book vs. Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantasticbeastsposterThe book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally just a textbook in the Harry Potter series and, in the series, written by Newt Scamander. So, Rowling took this textbook and wrote it up (as Newt) for all of us Muggles to read. Rowling also wrote the film adaptation’s screenplay based on the textbook

The book is almost like a encyclopedia describing many of the beasts and creatures in Harry Potter. It also has “notes” written by Ron, Harry and Hermione. It is really cool book and it teaches you a little more about the creatures in Harry Potter.

The movie, however, is a completely different script written by J.K Rowling. It is about Newt Scamander who comes to America to research the one beast he has yet to see. But, one of his creatures gets out of his suitcase which results in him using magic in front a Muggle. This act gets him summoned before the Magical Congress of the Untied States of America (MACUSA) where he meets Porpetina and Queenie, two ministry workers. These two girls, Newt, and the Muggle Jacob end up having to hunt around the city for all of Newt’s lost creatures. Their search brings them in confrontation with a mysterious magical entity that is wreaking havoc in the city. It is revealed that Credence, an orphan under the care of a vindictive, magic-fearing woman bent of rooting out magic, created an Obscurus which manifested out of his hate for his adoptive mother. Newt and his gang were able to calm Credence down and stop him from wrecking any more of the city.  Within all this havoc Percival Graves, an Auror, is revealed to be the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald is disguise. This movie is a really great addition to the world of Harry Potter and it really gives you insight of the wizarding world in America.

The book and movie are both really wonderful and very enjoyable. The only elements they share are the named character Newt Scamander and many of the creatures mentioned in the original book. So, there really is not that much to compare because they are so different, one being an actual story while the other is more of a textbook. In fact, the script of the movie was a totally new story line written by Rowling.  I recommend reading the book and watching the movie to anyone who has the time.

-Ava G.

J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

MV5BMjM2MDgxMDg0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM2OTM5NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Many aren’t aware of the book which inspired the movie series for Jurassic Park (see Jurassic World in theaters now!), and like most books, the original is better than the movie adaptation.

Michael Crichton’s vision of a utopian theme park gone wrong set a revolutionary example for all sci-fi novels to follow. Most of the characters in the novel are well developed and bear significance in the symbolism of their fates. However, I would have preferred a wider range of female characters as there are only two, with only one portrayed in a mature, positive light. Although most sci-fi novels are geared towards a male audience, it’s a huge bummer for female readers who do exist and do enjoy the genre. And while Dr. Strattler’s minimal role may have been a representation of the sexism faced by women in the scientific field, I think Crichton could have helped break the non-inclusive pattern within the genre.

I’m interested to know if this bothered anyone else who read the book, or if anyone agrees that there is a lack of female representation in sic-fi novels or movies?

– Sara S.

Jurassic Park, both the novel and film, can be checked out from the Mission Viejo Public Library. A downloadable version of the book is available on Overdrive

Book vs. Movie: To Kill a Mockingbird

killamockingbird_harperleeAs a required reading book for 9th grade English, I was not too excited to read this novel. All my friends who had already read it said it was great. But to tell you the truth, I did not believe them. For my class, we had to annotate each chapter, and by chapter 2, I was already annoyed with the book.

But please don’t follow my footsteps. This is a great book! I soon found out why. I know others have written reviews on the novel, but as a brief summary, this book is about the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Here, Atticus, the father of Jem and Scout, is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, against the accusation of raping Mayella Ewell. Through the novel, Atticus has to guide his children who are exposed to the racial inequality felt in the south in the 1930s. The children are disgusted by what they see of the real world and look to their father to help make sense of what they experience.

The novel was wildly successful when it was published and made into a movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck. As part of my English class, we had the opportunity to watch this film in addition to reading the book. To me, the movie and the book both offer great benefits.

Reasons the book is better:

  1. You get to know the characters better, because more description is given, and you read the narrator’s (Scout’s) thoughts.
  2. More emphasis is given to show the separation between whites and blacks in the town.
  3. The book focuses more on the other lessons taught by the novel, incorporating the visit to the Finch’s Landing and the arrival of Aunt Alexandra, whereas the movie eliminates this all together, focusing instead on Tom’s trial and Boo Radley.

Reasons the movie is better:

  1. You see a physical description of Maycomb and its inhabitants, as well as getting a better understanding of the culture in the South.
  2. ***SPOILER***The scenes with Bob Ewell and his confrontation with Atticus and the attack against the children are scarier on screen.
  3. The relationship between Scout, Jem and Atticus is more pronounced, which makes the story more touching.

So it’s up to you…for those of you who have read/watched both the book and the movie, which was better in your opinion? Normally, I would automatically say the book was better. But in this case, I don’t know which one wins in my book.

– Leila S., 9th grade

To Kill A Mockingbird is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360