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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  257 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A manuscript stolen from a monastery, the ancient stone house of a sea-trading dynasty, which may be haunted. These are familiar ingredients for a Gothic novel, but something far more strange and disconcerting is taking place within the walls of Malpertuis as the relatives gather for the impending death of Uncle Cassave. The techniques of H. P. Lovecraft, when transplanted ...more
Paperback, Atlas Anti-classics, 171 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Atlas Press (GB) (first published 1943)
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(showing 1-30 of 688)
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Liked the concept. The frame narratives were cool. The main story itself seemed a bit underdone. Certainly didn't merit the Lovecraft comparisons in terms of creepiness. The main character JJ was so bland it was hard to care or, more importantly, buy that he motivated the events that moved around him. And I have a peev about characters just walking out of the story -- I was expecting more from/about Nancy, especially. I was just expecting something more brilliant and experimental, but this was e ...more
This book was written in 1943 by "Jean Ray" the best-known pseudonym among the many used by Raymundus Joannes de Kremer (8 July 1887 – 17 September 1964). The book was originally written in French and this edition was translated by Iain White and published in England. According to the introduction (written by White) this is "Jean Ray's" only full length novel, what a shame. Mr. White compares Ray to H. P. Lovecraft, but I don't see the comparison. This book is much much more enticing and moody.

I can't even begin to describe how much I adored this mysterious and inscrutable tale of tenebrous and awe-inspiring gloom. I saw the film about a year ago, and it left its mark on my soul, but I still was not prepared for the greatness that was this book, which was quite different from the film, from what I recall. Perhaps I shall find it in me to write a review at some point that will do Malpertuis justice, but at this point I think I just need to let the feelings it stirred within me percolat ...more
Nate D
Oct 29, 2015 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: light(er) reading for surrealists
Recommended to Nate D by: Drawn back to the doomed house
Extravagantly weird mid-century refitting of gothic dread around an eerie house and cast of odd characters vaguely competing for an inheritance. Unlike the somewhat messy film version, this succeeds in maintaining mood and intrigue, and gradually unspooling its sublimely unforeseeable plot (punctuated with audacious scenes of unexpected action) for the full length. Others have noted that it's basically a pulp story (a bit haunted house and a bit And Then There Were None), but again, a singularly ...more
Randolph Carter
An astonishing post-modern Gothic novel that has to be read more than once, seriously, to be understood and appreciated. When I say you must re-read it, you must; you will simply not "get" it all if you don't.

Brush-up on your Bullfinch too.
I didn't have any idea what to expect before reading this but did so solely on the basis of a recommendation from someone whose judgement I trusted and I knew nothing about it or the author. But what a pleasant surprise it was.

It was quite a complex narrative structure, with four embedded narratives within the main one, and a big cast of characters that took time for me to get my head around but once I had settled in, this book was a pleasure to read. Gothic prose, macabre similes, a creepy atmo
Orrin Grey
Jean Ray, where have you been all my life? Malpertuis is a complex and at times confusing novel, but it's also a fantastic one, full of exactly the kind of stuff that I love in my weird fiction, as well as the kind of stuff that I love in my Gothic fiction. The ultimate solution to the mystery is obvious, but somehow getting there never feels like it is, and the whole production has such an ominous, almost apocalyptic quality that everything is carried along with a kind of breathless urgency.
My Inner Shelf
Après une rude déception lors de ma lecture des contes du whisky, j’ai retenté ma chance avec Malpertuis. J’ai passé moins de 5 heures à lire ce chef-d’oeuvre d’angoisse et de folie. Le style qui pointait déjà son nez dans l’autre livre prend ici toute son ampleur, et l’univers bariolé et fantasmagorique de Jean Ray s’épanouit sous sa plume. Un vieux riche anciennement marin lègue sur son lit de mort sa maison et sa fortune à des héritiers plus ou moins apparentés, à la condition que tous vivent ...more
I first came across the fiction of Jean Ray in the anthology _The Weird_, where the Vandermeers made the inspired editorial decision to publish two stories by Jean Ray. Here was an unique voice in weird/supernatural fiction.

The narrative has an unusual structure. There are, I think, four inter-layered plots. In the first 40 some pages of the book, it seemed that one plot would start, but then in the next chapter, another plot would start. I was leaning toward a 3 star rating at this point. For m
Profundus Librum
A történet alapvetően érdekes, a rövid ismertetőből is talán előre megsejthető izgalmakat tartogathatNA, de sajnos végül nem így történik. A négy szereplő szempontjából elmesélt négy rész-történet a végére valóban összeáll egésszé, addig azonban az olvasó a „kínok kínját” kénytelen kiállni. Annyira optimistán, bizakodva álltam a regényhez, hogy szinte arculcsapásként ért, mennyire unalmas és semmitmondó az egész narráció, amit csak néhol, pillanatokra tör meg egy-két érdekfeszítőbb félmondat (fő ...more
A wonderfully weird and humorous horror fantasy, like Poe on acid. How can you not love lines like this: "Nancy swanned into the kitchen; she preferred crepes to waffles and would tear them between her teeth like scraps of burning skin."
Timothy Jarvis
Antic and crazed, bizarre and idiosyncratic European Gothic. A puzzle box of a novel that can probably only be opened by stomping underfoot. But no doubt best not to try...
Anna Prejanò
Gli scritti di Jean Ray me li sarei goduti molto di più se li avessi letti a vent’anni, perché ne avrei apprezzato incondizionatamente il lato fantastico e meraviglioso senza vederne i difetti, il principale dei quali è l’estrema artificiosità nella costruzione dell’intreccio, tipica anche dei racconti. Qui il classico espediente del manoscritto ritrovato serve a costruire una narrazione a più voci, che non corrispondono però a punti di vista realmente diversi e quindi non aggiungono né spessore ...more
Umberto Rossi
Though I'm more of a sf reader than a lover of fantasy, I appreciate well-written fantastic fiction, and this novel by Belgian novelist Jean Ray is a real masterpiece of the genre. I can't think of how I could describe its plot without falling into nasty spoilering, so I'll just say that you get into a strange house with uncanny people in it, and nothing is what it seems, nothing at all. It starts like a dream and turns into a nightmare, with a feverish consistence and a relentless pace. Really ...more
Malpertuis est une histoire d'horreur qui se passe dans une vieille demeure. L'oncle Cassave, un vieillard solitaire, est couché sur son lit de mort et donne un dernier commandement à sa famille : s'ils veulent toucher leur part de l'héritage, ils doivent tous venir habiter dans Malpertuis. Jusque là tout va bien, avant qu'ils réalisent que le manoir leur réserve des surprises, de bien mauvaises surprises, en fait.

Même si le concept m'attirait énormément (vous connaissez mon amour pour les maiso
My advice is, don't read anything about this book before you actually read the book. It will, at first, unfold as a strange, dark, gothic story with hints of the supernatural. It is puzzling at first but quite fascinating. In the denouement we find out what has actually been happening, and who these strange characters really are, and it is a fascinating revelation. That's all I can say without spoiling it.
Yani Daniele
Estiré el libro lo más que pude porque sencillamente es G-E-N-I-A-L a tal punto que se ha convertido en uno de mis favoritos de este año. Es un libro que tiene de todo, intriga, terror, fantasía todo entremezclado de manera magistral. Esta dividido por así decirlo en cuatro grandes partes, narradas por distintos personajes, pero todo surge a partir de un ladrón de poca monta que roba en un monasterio unos extraños manuscritos que contienen esta historia. Así que parte de la narración pertenece a ...more
lézengő reader
Aki belga Lovecraftnak nevezi a szerzőt, az Lovecraft-kötetet csak becsukva látott.
Bizarre but fascinating surreal fantasy.
Nicholas Whyte
"[return][return]This is regarded as the great work of Belgian fantasy (at least in the novel form: there are loads of Belgian comics and films with sfnal content). It's quite difficult to get hold of and I eventually picked up a copy of the 1998 Atlas Press translation on eBay. It appears at first to be about the peculiar inhabitants of the house of Malpertuis, in a city which is presumably Ghent in the dying days of Francophone supremacy; but in fact i ...more
Dalla quarta di copertina leggo: "questo romanzo è il capolavoro di Jean Ray, lo scrittore che è stato definito l'erede europeo di Lovecraft". Ecco... no, proprio no. Malpertuis è un romanzuccio gotico senza infamia e senza lode, privo di quel mordente e dello spaventoso orrore cosmico del buon maestro di Providence. Irritanti i fastidiosi rimandi al cristianesimo come forza salvifica in grado di tenere in scacco le tenebre; una blasfemia del genere avrebbe fatto accapponare la pelle di Lovecraf ...more
Holger Schmitt-Hallenberg
great stuff for fans of classic gothic fiction. Weird, sometimes even terrifying. Of course we recognize the influence of Lovecraft or Poe, but the setting and atmosphere (a huge house in an old, desolate belgian city)reminds even more of the european decadence, like Rodenbach's "Bruges la Morte", Meyrink, Huysmans or Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly. And I kept constantly seeing paintings of Spilliaert, while reading. I wonder if Neil Gaiman knew this novel, before he wrote "American Gods"??
Alison ☆彡
Rating: 5 stars

Livre lu pour l'école. Ce livre est bizarre, et il est difficile de comprendre quoi que ce soit jusqu'à la fin. La, l'écrivain réussit à nous en mettre pleins les yeux. J'ai adoré ce livre, et je le conseille à tout le monde!
Alessandro Kostis
Piccolo capolavoro di letteratura post gotica di un autore che in Italia non ha mai conosciuto la notorietà che gli spetta. Il topos della casa infestata tocca qui il suo apice (altro che American horror history). Copertina illustrata da Crepax.
Javier Maldonado
Tremenda novela, aunque a la mitad pierde un poco el ritmo. La revelación final es totalmente alucinante. Epic mind blow.
I don't remember much about the book but I do remember that I loved it. I guess I need to find another copy and read it again.
Amazingly wel written, and horrifying story with some scary twists in the plot. Horrybrilliant
Paul Monk
A French friend gave me this book to read. It drew me into Jean Ray's fascinating universe.
Jan 11, 2010 Alan marked it as to-read
if I can find it..
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Literary Horror: May 2015 Monthly LH Read: Malpertuis 18 24 May 27, 2015 07:26PM  
  • The Seventh Horse And Other Tales
  • The Other Side
  • The Dark Domain
  • The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories
  • The Terror
  • The White Hands and Other Weird Tales
  • Imaginary Lives
  • The Wine-Dark Sea
  • Nosferatu
  • The Beetle Leg
  • The Angel of the West Window
  • The Devil's Dictionary and Other Works
  • A Child Again
  • L'orgue du diable (Yoko Tsuno, #2)
  • Demons By Daylight
  • The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-six
  • Alraune
  • Le savant fou (Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-sec, #3)
Raymundus Joannes de Kremer was a Flemish Belgian writer who used the pen names John Flanders and Jean Ray. He wrote both in Dutch and French.

He was born in Ghent, his father a minor port official, his mother the director of a girls' school. Ray was a fairly successful student but failed to complete his university studies, and from 1910 to 1919 he worked in clerical jobs in the city administration
More about Jean Ray...

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