Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft

The Rats in the Walls
by H.P. Lovecraft

Our narrator is only half nameless this time around. We know that he hails from the de la Poer bloodline, and in an attempt to reconnect with his ancestral roots, he moves into his long abandoned family home known as Exham Priory, located in a small English town.

After much time and even more money, the Priory is restored to all its previous glory. Throughout the renovations, de la Poer has heard gruesome rumors regarding not only the supposedly haunted nature of the house, but also regarding his family's past.  The tales of hauntings don't concern him much, and indeed there seems to be little truth to those rumors--unless having nightmares and the occasional rat scurrying through the walls counts as a haunting.

But as the nightmares grow worse, and the infestation gets out of hand, curiosity about the source leads de la Poer and a number of his compatriots into the sub-cellar, where they discover the terrible reason for these aged rumors.

Some claim that this story is the pinnacle of Lovecraft's art. Now, while I'm not quite ready to make that claim, this is a hell of an effective story that combines many of the author's benchmarks: first person narration, damned bloodlines, hidden horrors, nature taken to unnatural extremes...and of course a little racism.

There are elements from a hodgepodge of Lovecraft's other works here, including but not limited to "The Alchemist" and "The Statement of Randolph Carter". To put it in more modern terms, though, imagine if Clive Barker channeled the spirit of Poe and combined the more accessible components of House of Leaves with the more outrageous aspects of his "Midnight Meat Train".

And if that ain't enough to grab you, I don't know what is.


1 comment:

  1. A truly fantastic selection from Lovecraft's work. This story is one of my all-time favorites. The scene in the underground city scape is amazing. Great review, Jonny.


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