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The House That Jack Built by Graham…

The House That Jack Built (1996)

by Graham Masterton

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1581075,572 (3.57)11



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Graham Masterton wined, dined, and romanced me with his gory, viscerally rich ‘The Devil in Grey.’ Here he makes the past cross the lines with the modern again, this time, as before, dealing with devilish spirits up to no good.

The plot is traditional type of ghost story, with possession, unexplained deaths, haunted houses, and mysterious ‘drawings’ to places and people of the characters. Sure, there’s nothing really new here, but it’s fun anyway.

Pacing doesn’t hurt the book, either. Spooks and chills are delivered without haste, action is tight and well delivered, violence is sudden, shocking, strong, and the ending is one that lasts in the readers mind even when the book is read, closed, and locked away on the shelf.

Characters are gripping and emotionally driven, particularly the wife Ellie. Since Craig is the one going through all the ghostly drama, I suppose Masterton chose to show so much through the wife’s eyes as she is a spectator and informant of sort for the reader to get the overall picture. Well done!

When violence strikes, it’s bloody, traditional Masterton style. The book isn’t creepy, but it is intriguing. The beginning starts off with action that’s not directly related to the plot but nail-grinding nonetheless, giving adequate back story to why Craig comes to Valhalla to begin with. The middle keeps flourishing and branching out, growing stronger as each scene feeds the next, wrapping up with an ending that left me pleased, content, but also a bit sad and ‘stumped.’

I’m a sucker for haunted houses, or even just old mansions/run down places that have such strong mysterious atmosphere a picture of Sherlock Holmes may as well be hanging on the walls. This one didn’t let me down in the least, going over inch by inch of the place, using the dark corners and demented rooms to its advantage.

Even though I hold minor qualms with how the ending turned out (not bad writing, just personal grimaces), I rate this book highly. Masterton’s writing style is crafty and addictive, his approach solid and strong, creating an end product that’s both memorable and enjoyable.

Find it, buy it, let your mind soak it up. One can never have too many haunted house stories, especially when the story surrounds manipulative, cruel ghosts who come back from the grave for reasons one would never originally expect. ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
When Craig first saw the house he knew he had to have it. It didn't matter that it was a complete wreck or that it was supposedly haunted, it, he felt was the answer to all his problems. With it he could once again be whole. Effie, his wife, only felt the evil, from as far away as the gate. What would be Craig's survival could become Effie's undoing. It was not a particularly scary book but it carried the suspense theme well throughout it. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
This book could have benefited by being a 100 pages or so shorter. I got tired of the constant unnecessary details. I found the last part of the book more enjoyable because it picked up pace. This book for the most part I found boring. If you are looking for a book to keep you up at night I would not recommend this one. If you want something with gore this one might be a decent read. ( )
  jjnaaucoin | Jun 28, 2014 |
  rustyoldboat | May 28, 2011 |
Not great literature, but very satisfying. If you like the haunted house genre, then you know that examples that bring anything at all different to the story are few and far between. I can't call this one exactly original, but it's not the same old premise. It also moves along at an excellent pace, and it's deserving of a quality film adaptation if one hasn't been made already. ( )
  TheBentley | Jun 15, 2010 |
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But every beginning is only a continuation
And the book of fate is always open in the middle.
--Polish Poem
Mayan priests had a ceremonial calendar which governed thirteen festivals of twenty days each. The ceremonial calendar rolled through the year like a wheel, and consequently the festivals occurred at different days each year but always in the same sequence. The priests could calculate into the future or the past exactly what the populace would be doing, hearing or seeing on any given date. They were dealing from a stacked deck.
--William Burroughs
If time were a pool we could kneel at its edge and gaze at our reflections and then beyond them to what lay deeper still. Instead of looking back at time we could look down into it - just as we could peel back the layers of the palimpsest - and now and again different features of the past - different sights and sounds and voices and dreams - would rise to the surface: rise and subside, and the deep pool would hold them all, so that nothing was lost and nothing ever went away.
--Lucie Duff Gordon
For my father, Ian, with love.
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"Can't you try Broadway?" Craig demanded.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0843947462, Mass Market Paperback)

A savvy lawyer's wife watches in dismay as her husband fixates on a bizarre abandoned mansion in upstate New York as the key to restoring his virility. As he dives into the daunting restoration project, he soon transforms into a rapacious gambler from the '30s. His wife enlists a practical New Age witch to help her out, and a battle for their souls ensues. Masterton delivers tight pacing and satisfying climaxes and conveys a delicious aura of decadence through details such as dry rot, baccarat, Sobranies, Mallarme, unusual sex, liniment, the music of Nirvana and the scream of the mandrake.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

High-powered Manhattan lawyer Craig Bellman and his eager-to-please wife, Effie, are touring the Hudson River Valley when they chance upon Valhalla, a decrepit mansion that broods on the bluffs north of Cold Spring. A monument to the towering ego of textile mogul Jack Belias, who vanished mysteriously in 1937, the edifice has understandable psychological appeal for Craig, who is recuperating from his near emasculation during a recent mugging. At first, Effie is happy that Craig's obsessive interest in rebuilding Valhalla has restored his confidence and potence.… (more)

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