Hell House Synopsis: Can any soul survive?
Regarded as the Mount Everest of haunted houses, Belasco House has witnessed scenes of almost unimaginable horror and depravity. Two previous expeditions to investigate its secrets met with disaster, the participants destroyed by murder, suicide or insanity. Now a new investigation has been mounted – four strangers, each with his or her own reason for daring the unknown torments and temptations of the mansion… – Goodreads
Hell House Review
Hell House was my first Matheson book, and not even one that I had intended on reading. Basically during one of our weekly trips to the library, my partner came out with it, and I decided it looked interesting. So, I filched it. I was quite happy that I did, too. Matheson has great talent and a very, very twisted mind.
I will often applaud or sneer at books for their lack of, or overabundance of, typical horror story tropes such as drinking, sex, etc. However, these devices do have their place and can be very effectively used if the author knows what he or she is doing. Matheson knew what he was doing. He uses the elements in a way that has your lip curling in disgust, or gives you a shudder of fear and revulsion. At times its almost unbelievable, but that’s the best thing about a great horror story. It stretches your imagination to uncomfortable places.
So, let me simply say that if you’re easily shocked or offended by use of the male or female form in vulgar ways, or if you’re so religious that you can’t handle the idea of one of your idols being desecrated, you will not want to read this book. While not Laymon bad, there are definitely some scenes that could make lots of people very uncomfortable. However, if you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, enjoyable haunting read from a talented author, Matheson’s Hell House is sure to be a pleasure to read.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that the ending seemed a bit weak. Throughout the pages, he relentless turns up the tension and shock factors until the reader is as tightly strung as a piano wire waiting for the resolution. Then… there’s no grand finale. There’s a false ending that would have been satisfying if a bit typical, followed by the true ending that was just… not satisfying. It was like this huge bonfire of a story just got oxygen deprived all at once, and leaves you feeling bereft as you stare at the ashes, thinking that it didn’t feel like the proper way for that to happen. Yes, you got your ending, but (even though good) it wasn’t as epic as the story itself deserved.
Overall, still a very entertaining read and one that I’d recommend checking out when you get a chance. I mean, the man has I Am Legend in his list of books. He’s got the talent to make reading him well worth your time.