Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Rats in the Walls

Novelette by H.P. Lovecraft

Delapore buys Exham Priory, his family's ancestral home in England, has it restored, and moves in. It had been abandoned for hundreds of years, ever since his ancestor killed the rest of his family and fled to Virginia. The first half of the story is about family history and all the horrible stories the townspeople have about the de la Poer family. One night, the cats start acting weird, one thing leads to another, and Delapore and his friend Norrys discover a secret passage beneath the deepest cellar. They gather a bunch of experts from London and go exploring. Delapore goes insane.

The Poe influence is still strong with this one, and the description of it as "Lovecraft's take on House of Usher" isn't far off. But the descriptions and the whole secret-world-beneath-the-one-we-know theme are decidedly Lovecraft. I enjoyed this story quite a bit, it was tense, nervous, a bit scary, but not terrifying. The imagery is great and sticks with you for a long time. The plot and the supernatural rat aspect are a bit weak, and the insanity at the end came a bit out of nowhere for me, despite the long build-up to it. But it is a good secret, and the imagery really is just that great. And I don't mind the rats that much.
4 rats out of 5.

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