The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was infatuated with HP Lovecraft for a brief period in my life but mostly because of the drawings he inspired by HR Giger. I had a collection of Lovecraft’s stories that I bought at Tower Books (many, many years ago) but can’t remember the name of the collection or reading a single story from it. I read The Shunned House though. It was a quick read and a nice introduction to HP Lovecraft’s reputation as a horror writer. It’s introduction reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It’s one of my favorite ghost stories and movie adaptations (B&W 1963 version not the 1999 version). The Shunned House is a much shorter work than Hill House but I suspect were it longer it might have had the same impact on me. In The Shunned House, the narrator and his uncle spend their nights in a reportedly haunted house to either capture the entity haunting it or to debunk the rumors of the house being haunted. The Haunting of Hill House shares this same premise (“scientists” go to investigate a haunted house). The stories diverge by the end though. in The Shunned House there is clearly an entity but in The Haunting of Hill House the existence of an entity is remains questionable.
The Shunned House was a quick read because the story was well paced. Lovecraft lingered just long enough on a scene to develop his narrative without boring his reader. However, his story was not perfect. There were some loose ends, some theories introduced (like when the elder Roulet is found in the forest covered with blood). I think were the story a longer story, Lovecraft would have tied up these loose ends.
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