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Helen MacInnes
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Laura Joh Rowland

Hell House / by Richard Matheson ; narrated by Ray Porter

Hell House - Richard Matheson, Ray Porter

Uhhhh.....  Okaaaayyy.....    Hell House was an odd ghost story, and it really should have been a story that I hated.  It had a lot of perversity and depravity to it, and a lot of weird sexual violence.  Books that contain those sort of things usually don't last long in my hands.  In this case, though, the perversity, depravity, and sexual violence were integral parts of the plot.  The ghost(s) in Hell House were simply "living" in death as they had in life, and those lives were lived in what I could only imagine as an homage to Caligula.  This is probably not an appropriate ghost story to read to the children at halloween.

 

That said, the story was very gripping.  I listened to this book in audio format, and I finished the whole thing in less than a day.  I actually had to force myself to go to bed last night, otherwise I'd have been up all night listening to this book!  I don't know if I would have stuck with Hell House if I had actually read it.  I think that the horror was significantly enhanced by Ray Porter's excellent narration.  His ghostly voices were creepy, terrifying, and dripping with insanity and maniacally perverse glee.  In short, they were outstanding!  Ray Porter made the book for me.

 

I have to admit with a fair amount of surprise that I liked Hell House.  I don't think that I loved it, though.  I think that Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is very similar to, but significantly better than Hell House (both books feature a group of people dealing with a haunted house and not knowing what's real and what isn't), and it's not as violent or as perverse as Hell House.  But if you like your ghost stories to edge more into The Exorcist style green-vomit-spewing, nasty-acts-with-crucifixes territory, then Hell House might thrill you a little more than Shirley Jackson's Hill House.  Maybe read them both to compare and contrast.