Saturday, November 07, 2015

25. Hell House by Richard Matheson

Not my copy, but the version I found
(written Dec 26, 2015 catching up)

Another great find!  A woman at the tam-tam this summer had a blanket with a bunch of books spread out on it and a big sign "free books".  She said she was just doing it to encourage reading.  It seemed a bit odd, but I found this book and a few french Winnie the Pooh books for my daughter.  I am not a big fan of horror, but the period and the author and then the blurb made me pick this one up and I am glad that I did. 

Four practitioners of the occult make a deal to try and exorcise a haunted house as the last request of its dying owner.  All of the characters are seriously flawed or damaged and the history of the house that led to its reputation is just awesome.  In its past, it was owned by an insane megalomaniac tycoon with incredible charisma who turned it into first a playhouse in the forest that got darker and sicker until he and his various guests closed off the outside world and then all eventually died.

The four characters are a beautiful medium who used to be an actress, a psychic whose last use of power was in the house where 4 others died and he was left naked and broken outside, a way-too confident paranormal scientist and his sexually repressed wife.  In different ways and at different speeds, each of them is slowly attacked by the house (and all of them together).  It is really delicious to see the weakness of their character lead to their destruction and to have the history and power behind the house slowly revealed. 

A movie of Hell House was also made and got decent reviews.  I have it on standby.