The Shunned House: The Complete Lovecraftian #41

I know, I know, I am fully aware, yer thanks for pointing that out… Yes, I did say last time I was back on the horse, and the Lovecraftian side of this blog would be back on track, after the hiatus caused mostly by this story when I first read it for this post back in December… But then I had to read this story again before I wrote this and.. Arrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And yes, to quote a different author entirely …

download (5)

Reading ‘The Shunned House’ however, makes me want to do so…

Normally I go to great lengths explaining what I think about a story, or what the story brings to mind. I try to examine the text and come up with exciting things to say. Or at least, things to say I find interesting about it. Here in I have a problem, because I find nothing interesting at all about ‘The Shunned House’. That this frails against some popular opinions, among them, fellow author Robert Weinberg’s. He described “The Shunned House” as:

“one of Lovecraft’s best short novels”

It’s not, at least in my opinion, it’s not even the best of the worst of his ‘short novels’. It is a dreadfully long ponderous tale which would work perfectly fine as a short story. About a thousand words, maybe two thousand words at the most would have been enough. The reason I say this is because ninety percent of this tale is exposition. Long maladroit exposition on the history of a haunted house, because in essence, this is a ‘haunt’ tale. So that ninety percent exposition could have been removed and replaced with:

The house had a long dark history of strange occurrences, unexplained deaths and madness in the night…

I am not saying that it would be better for doing so, but believe me when I say I would have sooner read that line followed by the final events and a little background on the characters involved than trawl my way through the agonisingly slow, dry to the point of arid, relentless and glacial crawl, that is the rest of the story.

This was apparently going to be Lovecraft’s first actual printed book, rather than just be published in a magazine. Some 250 copies were printed, then never bound and never sold. My suspicion is whoever was funding this venture actually got around to reading it sometime between the printing and the binding then decided to cut their losses.

Lovecraft has a habit of writing a lot of exposition. Indeed its sometimes works in his favour, building character and a bit of depth to the story. ‘The Rats in the Walls‘ is a fine example of this. But here he goes so much further into infinitesimal details that bring nothing to the story. Even that would not be a problem if the exposition itself weren’t just so terminally dull. It just drones on like a slightly turbid uncle at a family gathering telling you about his foot fungus for several hours, while you really want to go talk to your second cousin thrice removed over at the bar who seems at least to have some life about her. Even if the best thing you can say about her is she is unlikely to have a three-hour story about her foot fungus she feels the need to tell you.

So, look at it like this, if your a completist with a masochistic streak determined to read them all then fine. Read ‘The Shunned House’ and don’t say I did not warn you.  It may just be my opinion, but it’s also noticeable that there are no Scandinavian Death metal bands called ‘The Shunned House’. No band under another name has recorded an album called ‘The Shunned House’, there is no low budget short movie made by fans of the story. There is no comic strip, no interesting artwork, no new genre or significant writer that I can find that has ever been inspired by this story, and I looked in the vain hope fo something to say about it other than,

‘Festering old ones that spell doom to humanity it’s dull!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

So there you have it, it gets one solitary, and frankly ill-deserved tentacle.

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Its only one because unlike Sweet Ermengarde it is actually a horror story. Though ‘Sweet Ermengarde‘ is a far better read than this. So I also have to amend the picture below form the main Lovecraftian page…

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Unless you’re reading The Shunned House

 

Which says it all…

 

This entry was posted in amreading, blogging, book reviews, fiction, goodreads, Goth, horror, Lovecraft, mythos, opinion, pointless things of wonderfulness, rant, reads, retro book reviews, sci-fi and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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