Haunted house stories have been written many times, and while there may be a lot of good ones, I loved this one. I simply cannot find a flaw in the story worth mentioning. Matheson could have done anything he wanted with this tale. He could easily have gone all out with the paranormal, but instead he chooses to exercise restraint. The supernatural phenomena that occur do so slowly, increasing in intensity as the book goes on. Just when you think all is well, Matheson hits you again with twice the force. The perfect example of this occurs with the main character Barrett, towards the end of the novel. Chilling and memorable.
One of the more intriguing themes of the book is the "Science Vs. Spiritualism" debate. It is clear that Matheson does his homework on the things he writes about. This makes the story feel more fleshed out. And what is most surprising is the fact that the book presents evidence for the establishment of both schools of thought. This isn't so apparent until you reach the end of the book.
Ray Porter's narration is outstanding. He crafts a different voice and persona for each character perfectly, from the cool and logical Barrett, to the naive and vulnerable Edith. Even his guttural, hissing renditions of the maniacal forces that inhabit Hell House are jarring.
If you wish to read a haunted house story with balls from a master of horror, look no further. This one should be the epitome of them all.
I listened to the book on a long drive this week and had a wonderful experience. The premise is a clear borrowing from Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" (1959), but Matheson takes all that Jackson hints at to great extremes--sex, violence, terror. (Jackson, regularly published in The New Yorker, was constrained by the conventions of "literary fiction" that do not bother Matheson, a very talented commercial writer). Matheson's book has a powerful structure (meandering structure was a weakness of "I Am Legend"), got hold of me in the first pages and didn't let me go until the last line. The reading by veteran audio book performer Ray Porter could not be better. He is one who disappears as a "performer" and I feel in direct contact with the story and characters.
Matheson takes us beyond the limits of terror. I was on the edge of my seat for virtually the entire book, but the last two hours were so intense, I could barely breathe! If an audiobook could be compared to a movie - then I would compare this to The Exorcist. If you love horror, fasten your seatbelt - this is the ride of a lifetime.
Baltimore book lover
This book was so enjoyable. It's not some run-of-the-mill crime dressed up by a spooky local legend (Tony Hillerman), but a real ghost. It's not for the faint of heart, however. There is a large amount of violence and an even larger amount of sex; creepy, deranged sex. It never seems exesive, though. Not too much ghost, not too much people, not too much talking, not too much scaring. It's a perfectly balanced ghost story that kept me up at night.
This was a classic horror pick. Every horror trope in the story was familiar to me, not because the book wasn't original in its time but because it has obviously had an enormous impact on horror movies and books that have come out since.
This is what happens when a writer believes himself to be more daring than Dare McDareson. Trussed up as a horror story, but nothing even remotely scary happens, only sexiness in a sophomoric attempt to shock us. Trust me future writers- nothing is more offensive than someone simply trying to offend. After slugging through the most boring audio porn in history I'd come to the conclusion Richard Matheson was the world's most sheltered teenage boy when he wrote this back in the 1970's.
For anyone looking for a genuinely creepy haunted house story, get Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which supposedly inspired Hell House.
This book is terrifying, and it does a good job of keeping the reader in suspense as the plot moves quickly from tense moment to calamity bad back again. In short, this book is one long driveway moment.
I love stories and traveling in a world beyond my own. I write them, read them, view them and now listen to them!
Hell House was an interesting journey into the horror genre from the 70's. There is background, suspense, tension and the looming hope that someone will make it out alive.
Dr. Barrett's character was interesting to me, someone deeply rooted in science trying to overlook the spiritual in order to validate his life's work.
There were some creepy parts to the book, especially when characters shifted into the personalities of the ghost possessing them. Very graphic scenes and some wonderful writing.
I really like this narrator but that's where my praise ends. This is one of the cheesiest stories I've listened to. And the ending is so convoluted and dumb it makes me regret having forged myself to listen to the whole thing. Waste of my audible credits.