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Book: Hell House

December 26, 2009
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I’ve had this sitting around for awhile and, being in a complete reading slump, figured I would give it a try.

It’s by Richard Matheson, who also wrote I Am Legend, Stir of Echoes, and some other fairly well-respected scary books. It’s been on many Top Horror Books lists, and my library didn’t have it, so I actually bought the book (used).

The premise is that there is this horrible house, reputed to be the most-haunted house in the world or something like that, from which no investigators (save one) have ever survived. So, of course the new batch of investigators (including the one survivor) decide that they are different and will make it through. This band of sillies includes a parapsychologist, who thinks that all paranormal activity is natural, generated from our own subconsciousness. Also along for the ride is his wife (a timid, easily-frightened woman — why did he take her, again??), and two psychics, one of which previously survived the house.

What follows is supposed to be one of the most original and scary haunted-house books ever. However, I preferred The Haunting of Hill House, which is awfully similar to this one. Supposedly this is one of those books from which many more-current books and movies are based upon, but I think Shirley Jackson’s book had that honor before this one.

Still, it was scary, I guess. There were only a few moments that got me shivery, but mostly it was the unsaid that was disturbing, rather than what actually happened in the book. It seemed fairly predictable and I didn’t really care about any of the characters, and it also lacked a certain suspense, without which it felt a little flat.
So maybe I didn’t really love it. I wanted to, though.

It would be a good RIP book, if anyone is creating their list early!!b

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