Book Review: ‘Hell House’ by Richard Matheson
No conversation about the greatest horror writers of all time would be complete without bringing up Richard Matheson. From his literary works to his classic Twilight Zone episodes, Matheson knew how to take something mundane and turn it into something terrifying. As far as his novels go, I am Legend may be his most famous, due in part to the three movie adaptations it has, but in my honest opinion Hell House may be the best thing he’s ever written and easily one of the creepiest books of all time.
An eccentric millionaire, questioning what lies beyond our world has purchased Hell House, a mansion so haunted that of the past two investigative teams, only one person made it out alive. He enlists a team to discover the secrets of the house; Dr. Lionel Barrett and his wife Edith bringing a scientific approach to paranormal research, medium Florence Tanner with a spiritual approach to the paranormal, and Benjamin Fischer the only survivor of the previous investigation who was once renowned as the greatest medium in the country. As the four of them spend the week in the haunted house, they are tortured by forces both seen and unseen as they try to unravel the secrets of Hell House.
Matheson’s gothic tale fills readers with dread with each chapter, whether it is the spirits within the house or the clashing of the characters there is a certain tension filling the pages of the book. Though the spirit of the house’s former owner Emeric Belasco is clearly the villain of the book, Matheson cleverly keeps the antagonist as an unseen force pulling the strings in the terrifying events which unfold. If there is a flaw with this book, it is that the end is Lord of the Rings-esque in that drags on a bit longer than it should. Besides thais insignificant flaw the book is a suspenseful masterpiece which should read by all horror fans.