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August 2, 2017

Book Review || Charnel House by Graham Masterton

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I am a big horror fan but have been particularly disappointed by horror films of late - I honestly don't know why I bother. The last film I enjoyed that was denoted as a 'horror' was 'The Autopsy of Jane Doe', a veritable oasis in a desert of palatable, interesting and focused 'horror' stories. I really think I should stop watching them and instead return to my first love of the horror: the novel. Graham Masterton is one of my favourite horror writers (better than James Herbert and Stephen King, in my opinion), and 'Charnel House' did for me in terms of scares what no horror film has been able to do in years: make me wonder if there is indeed something watching me from the darkest corners.

Not only was the story compelling, the plot sound, and the horror terrifying, I finished this book in only two days - a record for me lately.

The house in the title is inhabited by an elderly man who has coveted such a house his whole life. It is dank and dreary, but the ceiling cornices are made of real plaster and there isn't a spot of plastic anywhere. There are three storeys, an attic, real iron fireplaces - a magnificent place. But Seymour Wallis hasn't had good luck since he found that mysterious sculpture of a bear with a woman's face. Nor since he's started to hear the house's breathing. He visits the Department of Sanitation out of sheer desperation, I think, simply hoping someone will take his word and not think he's an utter nutter.

John believes Wallis is crazy, but investigates anyway with his friend. Their biggest mistake was waking the house up and it all goes downhill - and more entertaining - from there.

This classic seventies horror novel is filled with everything that originally defined the horror genre: campy, sarcastic, filled with outdated attitudes, violent and bloody ... but it is truly scary - and not just in a gory way: the backstory makes the evil ancient and unbeatable, just like any true horror would be. And even though I knew that I wasn't living in the house, that I did not have a bear-lady sculpture, my imagination ran away with me a little on that first night after I put out the light.

I'm silly; I know - no need to remind me.

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Source: Giphy
Masterton is an excellent storyteller if you've never read any of his novels before and they are fast-paced and entertaining, despite zero character development. If you haven't read him before and would like a slow introduction, you should try 'The House that Jack Built', one of my favourite ghost stories.

Have you read any of Masterton's novels?

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