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Charnel House

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  727 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Of course they thought he was crazy . . . . But Seymour Willis insisted his house was breathing and that he heard someone's - or something's - heartbeat pounding within the walls. So the disbelievers investigated, doubting the existence of ghosts or demons - until their reason was shattered by the shrieking unseen creature who threatened to claim their lives. By then it wa ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 15th 1988 by Tor Books (first published 1978)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
John works at the sanitation department and gets a different kind of visit one day. Seymour Willis swears that his house is breathing.
Palm Springs commercial photography

John figures that there is rat party going on or something along those lines. He doesn't have much else to do that afternoon though so he and a buddy of his decide to go and check out the house to give the old man peace of mind.

Palm Springs commercial photography

That goes well.
Palm Springs commercial photography

Now that the 'thing' inside the house has everyone's attention John teams up with a doctor and an occult bookseller to
The Shayne-Train
May 20, 2016 The Shayne-Train rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
You know, some 5-star reviews are because the work of literature changed your life. Some are because of the beauty and poignancy of the writing. Some are because of a novel's originality of story or perspective. And some are because they are just a plain old balls-out BLAST to read.


Uh, ok, ovaries-out blast to read works too, I guess. Geez.

Anyways, back in the day, when I just scarfed any old demonic horror novel I could find, I especially loved the "Evil House that Wants Ta Eatcha" trope. This
Ken McKinley
John Hyatt works for the Dept of Sanitation in San Francisco. One day, an older gentleman comes in with an unusual complaint - his house is breathing. Breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Hyatt wants to write the guy off as a kook, but there's something about his demeanor that tugs at his heart making him feel sorry for him. So, he decides to stop by his house after work to check out this mysterious breathing sound with his engineer friend in tow. At first, nothing happens. Then there's the sound and yes, ...more
3 stars: I liked the book and had a fun time reading it!

It's so wonderful that e-rights have brought back so many books that might otherwise slip into obscurity. This is a classic 70s horror novel, with all that implies: yes, there are 70s attitudes towards women and minorities here. It's also cheesy, campy, bloody, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun. I don't want to say a lot about the plot, but this story holds together well and provides plenty of chills. (And gore!)

And though "red Indian" (the b
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
May 15, 2016 ᴥ Irena ᴥ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Charnel House was first published in 1978. Occasionally it shows, but it doesn't take away anything from the story.

If you've ever seen a film about an evil being coming back to life and there's only a small group of people standing in its way, then there's nothing here that will surprise you. However, with Charnel House you do know the type of the story you're getting and because of that it ends up an entertaining story.

Character development is almost non-existent but the focus is on whatever e
Mar 20, 2013 Mark rated it liked it
When my buddy Kasia and I met in 2008, one of the first authors we discussed was Graham Masterton. Kasia's from Poland and Masterton was one of the first horror authors published in Polish after the fall of the USSR. I was familiar with his name, but upon looking at his extensive bibliography I had no idea where to begin. Kasia said, "Well, you could try Walkers. Walkers was really good. Oh, and Ritual! Ritual was sick. Or Flesh and Blood! That one's about the Green Man." "What's the Green Man?" ...more
Nov 12, 2010 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good vintage Masteton. I have a different edition. This one is neater. (2010)

Just revisited this oldie courtesy of Netgalley. It definitely holds up, aside from the very 70s racial epithets it isn't even that dated. Vintage Masterton, of course, implies a lean mean story that has to do with Native American folklore. But it is an original, it's entertaining and, above all, Masterton is just a natural storyteller and his books are fun, easy and enjoyable to read. Such a quick read too. I think my
Jun 23, 2016 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of 80's-style horror
CHARNEL HOUSE, by Graham Masterton is what I consider to be "vintage Masterton". That is, a story rich in folklore and the supernatural, blended together in a modern day setting where the average person holds credence only in science and things that can be proven in a laboratory.

The story begins with the unassuming scene of an elderly gentleman, Seymour Wallis, walking into the sanitation department office of John Hyatt. His simple statement of his complaint, however, is anything BUT average.

Greig Beck
Apr 16, 2011 Greig Beck rated it really liked it
'It's my house... it's breathing.'

With a killer opening line of dialogue like that, i was hooked. All writers (would) like to start with a bang, and Masterton does it here. Told in the author's distinctive first person narrative, he wonderfully blends Native American mythology, and draws it from the ancient to release it into our modern world. In Charnel House, something that starts innocently as a whisper in an old house, builds in suspense, and then terror, and then of course, finally to the u
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
So frustrating! I am a massive fan of Graham Masterton and many of his books but this one just did not float my boat and I sadly admit that I had to give up on it at the 60% mark as it was just not holding my interest.

I found the writing style very different from anything I have read from this great horror author before, possibly as it's an earlier book that is being re-released, all authors grow in expertise I believe over time. I did not find the plot very interesting or terribly scary and tha
The Haunted Reading Room 2017 - Year of Lovecraft
Review: CHARNEL HOUSE by Graham Masterson

The Emperor of Horror never disappoints. CHARNEL HOUSE is scary, spooky, and Implacable, not to mention dangerous [for the characters and eventually for humanity]. Based on actual Native American mythology and spirituality, the plot focuses on the return of the world's worst demon: Coyote. Banished underground for millennia, Coyote decides the time to return is at hand...Woe to humanity!!
Mar 02, 2017 Juxian rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-like, dnf
Even with my high tolerance for crap when it comes to horror, I have to DNF this book. The author was telling how writing this book made bad luck plague him; honestly, I doubt that writing that poor can make anything happen, bad luck including. Though I read in another review his other books are much better, so I'll try again a different one later.
Jun 18, 2016 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Graham Masterton has been writing horror since the 1970s yet I haven't really seen too many of his books around. I believe he is still keeping up his Manitou series which remains the books what he is most known for. Masterton has a good grip on the horror genre. His novels usually feature a sufficiently horrible monster and it is not uncommon to have an sexual twist in the story.

Charnel House was his third horror novel to be published. it came out in 1978 and is now being reprinted by Open Road
Jun 09, 2008 Kristen rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
Quick Summary – an elderly man comes to the city sanitation department because his house is breathing, he’s been everywhere else and no-one can or will help him. Out of curiosity more than the intention to fix anything John Hyatt (the city sanitation worker – NOT a P.I.) takes a co-worker to the house to see if maybe it is a rodent problem. The infestation turns out to be much more than rodents as Native American Mythology takes a for-runner in this story. People start getting injured in strange ...more
Feb 09, 2009 Graham rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pulp horror lovers
Shelves: horror
A fairly good example of the short, straightforward gore/horror/monster novel of the ‘70s/’80s, this is a typical example of Graham Masterton at work.

A follow-up to his bestseller, The Manitou, this is very similar in origin, charting a hideous and indestructible monster that runs amok in a city, causing all manner of horrendous and sickening things to happen to the various people involved. Once again Masterton uses Native American folklore as a basis for his story and weaves in some pretty con
Brenda Ayala
Jun 19, 2016 Brenda Ayala rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Charnel House is pretty much every demonic possession story, except this time with a Native American twist. If you have even a basic knowledge of Native American mythology (or truthfully even just a knowledge of what animals live in the desert) then you'll know exactly who our bad guy demon is. Will this detract from your enjoyment? If you already know that you like demon stories and blood stories (not so much a ghost story) then you'll still have fun with every bit of this. As with any other ho ...more
May 16, 2016 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is classic 1978 horror that is being re-released in June, though there is no cover on goodreads for the version I have... which can be seen here
I do remember reading it decades ago. In fact it was one of the first horror novels I ever snuck off my mother's book case when she thought I was too young to read them.

When an elderly gentleman complains that his house is breathing, John doesn't really know what to make of it. The gentleman does not seem l
May 21, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Well, that was interesting.... I started this book thinking it would be a straight-forward haunted house story. Boy, was I wrong. This actually is a gory monster tale. There's very little in terms of character development or in-depth plot here. Rather it's full on action horror. Based on Native American mythology and set in 1970's San Francisco, this short novel (almost novella length at only around 150 pages) starts strong from the first line and stays rather constant throughout. I did have a s ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Gaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in my teenage days and absolutely loved it. Since that was well over fifteen years ago, I decided to give it another bash. Surprisingly, and considering how much my taste in fiction has changed over the years, It's as good as I remember. Creepy set up, playful characters and a freaky Indian folklore legend to captivate and entertain. Yes, it's trashy and occasionally predictable (with an ending a tad on the absurd side) but who cares when it ultimately brings home the bacon in the sp ...more
Victor Castillo Rodriguez
Otro ejemplo de Masterton primigenio y un excelente entretenimiento para desengrasar entre lecturas. Menos de 200 páginas, con un ritmo excelente y narrado en primera persona. Tenemos de nuevo una amenaza nativa americana por lo que la originalidad respecto a "Manitú" brilla por su ausencia, pero está muy bien llevada. Cuando un inquilino de una vieja casa en San Francisco se queja a un inspector de sanidad diciéndole que esta "respira" por las noches se pone en marcha el plan de un antiguo demo ...more
Kristin (Blood,Sweat and Books)
Even though the story felt dated in its approach it winded up being a pretty interesting read. Longer review to follow.


Charnel House is a book that I went into knowing very little about. Sure, from the description I knew it would involve a haunting of some sort and that the force was indeed malevolent but beyond that I hadn't seen any reviews for the title or heard anything about it. Which, in truth, was a good thing and here's why:

First off, Charnel House isn't your average Haunted House
May 17, 2016 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, netgalley
Graham Masterton's Charnel House is comfort food for the horror fan's soul. That may be the first time the words "comfort food" and "horror" have been used in the same sentence, but that's how this book made me feel: like coming home, putting on my pajamas, and curling up in my favorite corner of the couch. Charnel House is the kind of straightforward horror I grew up with in the 1970s (it was originally published in 1978). There is no question that the horror here is external and supernatural; ...more
May 31, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-netgalley
Charnel House by Graham Mastertonby Graham Masterton
A desperate and terrified old man appears at the office of John Hyatt at the San Francisco Department of Sanitation with a chilling complaint. His house, Seymour Willis insists, is breathing. Hyatt suspects a rat infestation but the truth is worse. Much worse. An ancient demon out of darkest Native American folklore lives within the walls and floorboards of Willis’s home—an all-powerful malevolent being determined to break free and wreak havoc on the City by the Bay.

Soon a t
Feb 15, 2015 George rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Όγδοο βιβλίο του Γκράχαμ Μάστερτον που διαβάζω, ήταν και αυτό με την σειρά του διασκεδαστικό και ευκολοδιάβαστο. Μπορεί να πει κάποιος ότι έχει ομοιότητες με το Μανιτού και δεν θα έχει άδικο. Πάλι έχουμε ξαναζωντάνεμα δαίμονα και Ινδιάνο μάγο για να βοηθήσει την κατάσταση. Όμως δεν ακολουθεί ακριβώς την ίδια πορεία και χωρίς αμφιβολία προσφέρει δράση, τρόμο και αγωνιώδη ατμόσφαιρα, οπότε συγχωρείται ο συγγραφέας για την σχετική έλλειψη πρωτοτυπίας.

Πρωταγωνιστής και αφηγητής της ιστορίας είναι ο
Oct 08, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
The fourth star is for the short stories in this collection. I thoroughly enjoyed both Underbed and The Gray Madonna. Charnel House is like The House that Jack Built which I read just before reading this book in that they both concern a house that is haunted by a spirit that wants to return to life. However, the spiritual aspects that allow for the return of the spirits concerned in the books is very different. Charnel House concerns Native american legend while The House that Jack Built makes u ...more
Mar 29, 2013 Jonathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Another typical Masterton book.

This is one of his first and it is very short, with hardly 180 pages.

The story isn't bad, it is - like most of Masterton's books or so - about some kind of demon. It isn't my favorite one by the author, that's for sure; it's a little bit far-fetched - sometimes, more than just a little bit! -, the author could've took more time to describe certain situations. At the beginning, when something happens to a character, I was surprised to see how the other characters ac
Sep 05, 2016 Majanka rated it really liked it
Book Review originally published here:

John works at the sanitation department. He gets his fair share of strange clients, but what Seymour Willis tells him is the strangest thing he’s ever heard: the man claims his house is breathing. John goes anyway, bringing a buddy along. The book was written in the seventies and it shows (based on the stereotypes mentioned, and the attitudes toward women, minorities, etc) but the plot and storyline translate well, ev
Sigourney Penna
Jul 01, 2014 Sigourney Penna rated it it was amazing
While the main character (like The Manitou) is not all that likable this is still a truly terrifying and oddly epic tale of demons, mythology. It would be hard to give a proper review without spoilers so I will not go there. The cover art on the modern publications is not as interesting as the old Rick Baker cover art, but it does mirror the author's work inside. Horror fans of all kinds will live this book. Masterton was a master of suspense and violence mixed together and this premise was very ...more
Jul 24, 2016 David rated it liked it
This was such a good book for the majority of the way through, but the last forty or so pages seemed contrived and didn't really fit with the rest of the story (view spoiler).
Jul 15, 2008 Thasc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: past-reading
I put this story on par with The Manitou, I think it should have been made into a film.
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Graham Masterton was born in Edinburgh in 1946. His grandfather was Thomas Thorne Baker, the eminent scientist who invented DayGlo and was the first man to transmit news photographs by wireless. After training as a newspaper reporter, Graham went on to edit the new British men's magazine Mayfair, where he encouraged William Burroughs to develop a series of scientific and philosophical articles whi ...more
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“Kierowcą taksówki była kobieta. Dotknąłem jej ramienia.
-No? - zapytała.
-Przepraszam, ale chyba będę rzygał.
Obróciła się i obrzuciła mnie spojrzeniem. Z jej dolnej wargi zwisał pet.
-Panie, do cholery, to nie samolot. Nie zapewniamy torebek.
-To co mi pani radzi? - zapytałem, pocąc się (...), samochód podskakiwał i trząsł.
-Połykaj pan - oznajmiła i skończyła dyskusję.”
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