Book Reviews

Book Review- Charnel House by Graham Masterton

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This book was reviewed for Open Road Integrated Media via Netgalley


Masterton’s Charnel House is a horror story that evokes style and story akin to Edgar Allan Poe and to Dean Koontz. Indeed, there are a few parts reminiscent of The Tell-tale Heart. However, it isn’t a murder the house hides, but something far more sinister. This novel also reminded me more than a little of the X-Files, though perhaps that should be the other way around. This book is a rerelease of one first published in 1978!


John Hyatt is approached by a man named Seymour Wallis who claims that his house is breathing. Hyatt works for the sanitation department, and Wallis figures this is the best place to maybe get some help. Reluctantly, Hyatt agrees to come by Wallis’ house later that night to take a look. This action sets in motion a horrific chain of events. Hyatt, and several others, have been drawn to this particular house on purpose because each has an unwitting part to place in the resurrection of a ‘demon’ native to the land, to the Southwestern US, and parts further west. Hyatt and his friend Jane travel to Round Valley, to meet with George Thousand Names, a medicine man familiar with the legends involving this being, and aware of the importance of stopping his rebirth..


The action all takes place in and around San Francisco, though the being in question is more often found in the Southwest. I found it so odd to come across place names that were quite familiar. I live right by Daley City, and close to San Francisco.


I found Charnel House to be a quick and engaging read, with great description. My biggest qualm was who the ‘demon’ turned out to be. I know a person who is pagan and works with said being as a deity. I had to recall to myself again and again that one man’s deity oft is another man’s demon. That’s a particular qualm I have with Exorcist… Pazuzu is an Assyrio-Babylonian deity of pestilence and the pose of the statue, with wings flared and palms facing forward, that shows up again and again is actually one of warding and protection against pestilence. That can be one of my hot buttons (along with Christopher Columbus), but I was able to suspend that annoyance and really enjoy the story for what it was. Though I have to say, the author’s preface, if true, seems more to me the work of an annoyed deity than any demonic force!
???? Recommended for fans of horror fiction similar to Dean Koontz and Edgar Allan Poe, or for fans of the darker episodes of the X-Files.

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