John Hyatt works for the Dept of Sanitation in San Francisco. One day, an older gentleman comes in with an unusual complaint – his house is breathing. Breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Hyatt wants to write the guy off as a kook, but there’s something about his demeanor that tugs at his heart making him feel sorry for him. So, he decides to stop by his house after work to check out this mysterious breathing sound with his engineer friend in tow. At first, nothing happens. Then there’s the sound and yes, it does sound like breathing. John doesn’t believe in any of this hocus pocus and is convinced that the sound is a practical joke. When he attempts to confront the responsible party for the breathing sound, a blast of energy hits the room like a bomb. What happens next is the beginning of mysterious events that lead John to seek the help of an old Indian medicine man that might know a thing or two about what the heck is going on.
Charnel House is a fun read that actually ages well (It was originally written in 1978). Yes, there a few times during the course of reading the book that you kind of roll your eyes and chuckle – doctors smoking and drinking in their hospital office, a couple borderline sexist remarks by the male characters, attempting to call someone in the days of no cell phones or voice mail, etc. But, those are very minor and Charnel House has a nice creepy atmosphere with extremely good visuals and character development. The final scenes are a tad bland and slightly formulaic, but remember that this was the late 1970s. A very solid read and worth picking up.
4 evil coyotes out of 5
This ARC was provided my NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Josh’s sister, Julia, moves to London and isn’t heard from for 8 months. One morning, her body is found cut to pieces and dumped into the Thames River. Josh and his girlfriend, Nancy, fly to England and attempt to find out what happened to Julia. The police are stumped and have no leads. They end up running into Ella, a psychic medium, while combing the neighborhood looking for anyone that might know Julia. Ella not only knew her, but she offers to conjure up her dead spirit so that they can communicate with her. After exhausting every other means to find her, to no avail, they reluctantly take up Ella on her offer. What they find is that there are doors to other dimensions and that an old Mother Goose nursery rhyme is the key that allows them to pass through the present London that they know and into other Londons that have different realities. Some are stuck in 1930’s technology and the American Revolution never happened. Another dimension finds London at war with America during World War II time, except this is the American Revolution with Germany as England’s ally. In each dimension, there are Doorkeepers called the Hooded Men that hunt down anyone that comes through the doors into the different worlds. As Josh and Nancy follow Julia’s trail through a door into another dimension, what they find is pure terrror.
The Doorkeepers is a great story and my first from Graham Masterton. He has a wonderful way of telling a tale that is vibrant and the characters are fully fleshed out. I found myself buzzing along through the story and not wanting to put it down. There are scenes in the Doorkeepers that are truly horrific and one that made me cringe in discomfort simply from reading it. That’s the kind of unsettling that I love to discover when I’m reading horror. You’d think from that description that Graham pours buckets of blood drenching the story. This isn’t the case. There is blood, but it takes you by surprise and kicks you in the gut when it springs out from the story instead of numbing you by reading page after page of it. Story and characterization is Masterton’s trademark and it shows in the Doorkeepers. My only complaint is that ending felt rushed like he had a double-decker bus to catch and needed to wrap the story up before he missed it. Other than that, I really enjoyed my first dabble into experiencing Masterton and I look forward to my next.
4 1/2 bloody doors out of 5
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