Robert E. Howard
Trails in Darkness (C) (1996)
The Robert E. Howard Library Vol. VI
Reviewed: 1999-04-05

I assume nobody ever accused Howard of having a wide range as a writer. The stories collected in this volume are mostly set in the American West, but other than this background and the occasional replacement of the steel blade by the six-shooter, they are very familiar in style and content to what we are already used to by the author. Unhindered by modern notions of political correctness, Howard writes about "breeds" and "races", and has his protagonists freely talk about "niggers". S.M. Stirling's lackluster introductions to the individual stories add little.

Again, the heroes are up against ancient evils, partly native to the Americas since pre-historic times, partly imported there from the Old World. Recently freed slaves are led to revolt by conjurers and their dark creations, a cave guards the entrance to a realm old before the Indians came, there are tales of ghosts, death overcome by hatred, a man ghastly transformed into a werewolf, and a vampire. There's evil on the prairies of the west, and in the dark pine forests and swamps of the south. Probably the most powerful story of the lot is "The Hoofed Thing", a Lovecraftian tale of horror where a scientist draws an unspeakable creature from another dimension.

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