I think our preferences among Lovecraft stories correlate strongly with whichever ones we read first. This is because he wrote one story over and over. Remote, decaying town or place. Discovery of beings from outer space or undersea. Final discovery that they have interbred with humans. (In the creepiest stories, they have interbred with your own family.)
Lovecraft is an example of a phenomenon C.S. Lewis discussed–a story teller whose effects do not depend on words. Lovecraft’s writing is horrible–paid by the word and it shows. Yet he knew his story, and it is a powerful one.
Has anyone ever noted that Lovecraft is an inversion of Russell Kirk? Both men were fascinated with the past, both sought to recover it. But in Lovecraft the recovery means damnation.
Dear JohnD: Theodore Dreiser, of all people, may have used eldritch. He certainly used “ouf and berghast” to describe the scary call of a bird when the hero of An American Tragedy is about to drown his girlfriend.