Horror Story Review: "Rats in the Walls" by H. P. Lovecraft

@msiduri (5743)
United States
December 13, 2015 8:36am CST
After restoring his ancestral estate of the fictional Exham Priory, the narrator moves in. The estate has foundations going back to Roman times. Some claim even earlier. The narrator himself is the descendent of the eleventh Baron Exham, who fled to colonial Virginia where the family changed the spelling to Delapore. His only son Alfred served with a Capt. Edwin Norrys during the Great War. Norrys’ uncle is the current owner of the deserted estate. From Norrys, Alfred heard stories the Delapores had a “colorful and perhaps sinister history.” Neither Norrys nor Alfred takes these stories seriously. On the contrary, they find them of amusing. Nevertheless, it was after Alfred returns from the war disabled and later dies that the narrator wishes to buy and restore the old estate. When it’s ready, he chooses as his bedroom one area where the old Roman walls are still standing. Everything is find for a while, but he has dreams of a figure sending rats out to devour every living thing. The walls seems to be moving and the cats are restless, including the one that sleeps across his feet… With the dreams and the atmosphere, this is a horror story. The horror builds until the finale, which I did not see coming, frankly. There’s also a great deal of sadness. The narrator cared for his son for two years before he died. There is a reason his ancestor left Great Britain for the colony of Virginia. The family seems to have been law-abiding well enough since then. Well, there was that one cousin… And this being Lovecraft with his well-known racism, the name of the black cat who sleeps at his feet is named with a racial epithet. This is not a pleasant story, but it is moody and atmospheric and does draw one in. For dedicated horror fans only. ______ Title: “Rats in Walls” Author: H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) First published: Written in August/September 1923. First published in Weird Tales, March 1924. Source: ISFDB The text is available here:
There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountain to find the lurking fear. I was not alone, for foolhardiness was not then mixed with that love of the …
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2 responses
@silvermist (20114)
• India
18 Dec 15
@msiduri Though this horror story is in keeping with Lovecraft's fame,I felt the story was a bit too long.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5743)
• United States
18 Dec 15
@silvermist I agree. It could have come to the end much more quickly than it did.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (65267)
• Los Angeles, California
4 Jul 16
Sounds like an interesting tale. Lovecraft is influential on later generations including Stephen King.