Thursday, September 11, 2008

Charnel House – Graham Masterton

I just finished skimming the other reviews and I don’t know if I read a different version of the book or what, but I know that what I read wasn’t the same thing as what is mentioned in some of the other reviews out on the internet. First – there is no private investigator; and second - the baddie is not a shaman or witch doctor and it certainly isn’t out to “get back at the white people.” Granted I read the older printing of the book, with the really bad cover art… so maybe the newer version was highly edited.

Quick Summary – an elderly man comes to the city sanitation department because his house is breathing, he’s been everywhere else and no-one can or will help him. Out of curiosity more than the intention to fix anything John Hyatt (the city sanitation worker – NOT a P.I.) takes a co-worker to the house to see if maybe it is a rodent problem. The infestation turns out to be much more than rodents as Native American Mythology takes a for-runner in this story. People start getting injured in strange ways as the group of “believers” who hope to do something about it grows to a Sanitation worker, a book seller, a Doctor and a Shaman/Witch Doctor, can they combat the ancient Native American evil before it destroys mankind?

Now for the review, as with all of Masterton’s books that I have read so far, the opening is VERY good. Creepy, chilling, the haunted “breathing” house is fun and positively frightening. The problem is that the house isn’t where we spend most of our time. As characters are added it seems that they are too quick to believe in the far-fetched and too willing to do something about it. All but one character that the “explanation” of the goings on was explained to almost immediately said – “Okay, I’m coming to help.” I know that this was one of his earlier works, and that he really hadn’t hit his writing stride yet, but it was still fun. And it is short (under 250 pgs), so if you don’t like it… you can finish it quickly and move on to something else.

My biggest complaint is that the second half of the book (away from the house) became WAY to far fetched for my brain to buy into. If the baddie was what they explained it to be… we never saw the carnage, we never saw its capabilities, and it wasn’t nearly as bright as they let on. There was a lot of talk and build up to something that really didn’t do what they expected. As far as I can tell the body count was about 7-8 (I’m not sure if the one guy made it or not) which isn’t very high for the build up of – “It’ll destroy mankind.” All in all, this was one of Masterton’s weaker novels, but still worth the read if you are bored. I would suggest borrowing it though rather than paying for it.

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