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"It's beginning to look a lot like Fishmen

Everywhere I go.

From the minute I got to town

And started to look around

I thought these ill-bred people's gill-slits showed."

Innsmouth is a small, run-down village on the northern coast of Massachusetts, near Ipswich, Gloucester, and Arkham. Locals don't like it much. There are whispered rumors about dark dealings with the supernatural, the taint of foreign blood, and some sort of hereditary deformity. While touring New England, a young man learns of the town's sinister reputation and decides it's worth a visit. Curiouser and curiouser, he bribes the local drunk, said to be the only normal human left, with his favorite poison. The tale he tells is crazy yet the narrator cannot ignore the sinister atmosphere and the evidence before his own eyes. After barely escaping with his own life, our hero eventually discovers that he himself is one of the hybrid Fish People, a direct descendant of Innsmouth's most prominent family.

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is one of H.P. Lovecraft's longest and most famous stories. Among the various beasties of the Cthulhu Mythos, the Deep Ones and their half-human spawn are among the most popular and enduring, inspiring numerous other authors (including Neil Gaiman), as well as the 2001 film Dagon and the video game Dark Corners of the Earth.

Innsmouth has also been adapted twice as an audio drama by the Atlanta Radio Theater Company and the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. It has also been adapted for stage in Spain.

The complete story can be read online here.


Tropes in this work include:

 And yet I saw them in a limitless stream - flopping, hopping, croaking, bleating - urging inhumanly through the spectral moonlight in a grotesque, malignant saraband of fantastic nightmare.

  • Religion of Evil: The Esoteric Order of Dagon.
  • Scenery Gorn: Lovecraft loves describing Innsmouth's decay.
  • Schmuck Bait: Innsmouth's bad reputation is precisely one of the reasons the narrator decided to go.

 A town able to inspire such dislike in it its neighbors, I thought, must be at least rather unusual, and worthy of a tourist's attention.

 "There certainly is a strange kind of streak in the Innsmouth folks today - I don't know how to explain it but it sort of makes you crawl. You'll notice a little in Sargent if you take his bus. Some of 'em have queer narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, starry eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin ain't quite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of the necks are all shriveled or creased up. Get bald, too, very young."

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