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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I enjoy the slow burn of Grant’s storytelling. If you know anything of him, you know that he doesn’t bludgeon you over the head with nonstop gore and action. He teases you with the horror, slowly building up into a final crescendo. I’ve been reading his Oxrun Station series in chronological order and The Grave is my latest in the journey. Up until now, my complaint has been the weak, shallow and helpless female characters. The kind that have a conniption if they break a nail or are helpless unless a big strong male rescues them. I realize that this stereotype was common in quite a few horror novels from the late 1970s. It still doesn’t help me enjoy it. In The Grave, the female characters can stand on their own two feet and even though the male lead is kind of a dingbat, he’s not so bad that he’s annoying. But what has always been Grant’s strength – a wonderful slow burn of a strong storyline – is miserably empty of plot. In an attempt at being murky to keep you guessing, it actually is an exercise of patience. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happened until 40% into The Grave and then the plot was muddy and incoherent at best. This continued on and on and then at the end, it felt like Grant tried to explain it all as quickly as possible so that he could bring the story to a close. Unfortunately, the explanation doesn’t help or make it any more interesting. You’re just kind of “meh” and closed the book.
2 Unmarked Graves out of 5
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