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The Rats in the Walls

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  5,821 ratings  ·  276 reviews
"The Rats in the Walls" is a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. Written in August–September 1923, it was first published in Weird Tales, March 1924.

The story is narrated by the scion of the Delapore family, who has moved from Massachusetts to his ancestral estate in England, known as Exham Priory. On several occasions, the protagonist and his cats hear the sounds of rats scurr
Paperback, 25 pages
Published 2005 by Pocket (first published 1924)
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,821 ratings  ·  276 reviews

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Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Robert E. Howard sit in the afterworld playing Dungeons and Dragons and talking about Lovecraft’s 1924 novella The Rats in the Walls.

Stoker: OK and add plus 3 for your vorpal blade and you do [rolling dice] 18 hit points of damage, the orc is dead.

Poe: Filthy beasts, reminds me of one of my instructors at West Point.

Howard: So, HP, when you wrote Rats in the Walls, were you trying to make a case for ancient evil being the foundation of our society
Bill  Kerwin
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bill by: Q

I may like this story more than it deserves, but I can’t help it. I first encountered it in 1963, during my proto-Gothic phase, when I was fourteen; I read it at 2 AM, at the dining room table, by the light of two five-branch candelabra. And it scared the hell right out of me.

This story—the account of an American named named Delapore who makes the unwise decision to move to England and rebuild the ancient family mansion, Exham Priory—is an honest-to-god real corker. First published in Weird Tale
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Lovecraft is a very precise writer. Even though his stories are relatively short, they are often quite slow and drawn out. This isn’t a bad thing, he usually waits until the very last moment to reveal the horrors lurking within his world.

He slowly, very slowly, peels back the layers: he is the master of suspense. Unlike Poe or Stoker, he chooses his moment most carefully. And for me, that makes his story telling so superb. He is the kind of writer you read on a cold and dark wintering night wit
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
A member of the Delapore family buys Exham Priory in England to live there. After some refurbishments the walls seem to be rat infested but the traps often are empty. What is the secret behind the rats? On whicht grounds is Exham priory built on? Lovecraft leads you into a phenomenal tale of horror full of archeological excavation and a superb twist at the end. What is going on in the twilit grotto and what about hereditary demons and sinister family tales? Here every fan of good horror will fin ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
As creepy as it can be!


This a very creepy tale...!

...where the last man of the De la Poer Family goes back to England to inherit their ancestral home,...

...Exham Priory,...

...which is in terrible structural conditions, so he wants to get it back to shape,...

...however his family’s lore keeps a too dark past,...

...and blood always runs thick in family!

Leonard Gaya
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This short story, one of the early dark jewels of Lovecraft's corpus, is a horror genre elaboration on the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin medieval legend. It has the mouldy smell of twilight, of gothic nightmare and rotten ruins, distinctive of its author. The narrator of The Rats in the Walls, as usual with Lovecraft, tells his experience in the first person. The story seems to be directly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher: it’s about a deserted, worm-eaten house where some ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind-fuck, great, horror
The Rats in the Walls is one of the really paranoid Lovecraft's tales, penned during the early time of his career.

The narration and writing style of this gloomy Gothic horror story about family secret and insanity is obviously influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, still Lovecraft had clearly done his homework well and the guy successfully take us to one hell of a nightmarish ride through deadly curses, ancient evil and delusion. Although Lovecraft's narration can be really dry at times, I still strong
A creepy short read for a great Lovecraft BR with a fellow Lovecraft fan and an occasional Cthulhu tamer, Craig :) This exciting Lovecraft BR was inspired by Ghoul, dedicated to a fabulous Cthulhu. I've never read Lovecraft before and it was nice to explore his creations. It's definitely not my last date with Mr. Lovecraft :)

So, lets start from the beginning....


Lovely, isn't? :)

To sum up...

Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Amazing. One of the greatest plot twists I've read.

A man becomes perplexed by rats he heard in the walls and finds aid from his cat and an assistant. They explore the family mansion/ castle and find a horror of human remains, and the inevitable answer.

"They must know it was the rats; the slithering scurrying rats whose scampering will never let me sleep; the daemon rats that race...and beckon me down to greater horrors than I have ever known; the rats...the rats, the rats in the walls."
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Review for The Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft


Ultimate horror often paralyzes memory in a merciful way.

A descendant of the Delapore family embarks upon rebuilding the decrepit family estate, Exham Priory, in England. Shortly after, peculiar noises reminiscent of the frenetic scurrying and clawing of rats begin emanating intermittently behind walls, often during the dark of night....

The Rats in the Walls is superb Gothic horror fiction, beautifully weaving many of Lovecraft's common st
Simon Watts
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it

I'm generally not a fan of Lovecraft.

I feel like the man should have been born in the year 1970 and gotten a job writing lore for video games instead of writing short stories. The worlds he created are phenomenal, but they're also underused and hidden behind dense and impractical prose.

As a writer, Lovecraft is incredibly gaudy and his stories have no emphasis on character. Instead Lovecraft focuses on his word obsession and horror concepts. This is not so much a criticism, as it is a rea
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The skill of Lovecraft's writing is monumental he writes with shear skill and atmosphere. This story is one of a terror of rats be sure to buy a cat when you occupy and new property as it may be a priceless weapon. The rats are a viscous, gelatinous, ravenous army that feast on the dead and the living.

"the walls were alive with nauseous sound the veminous slithering of ravenous, gigantic rats."

"My searchlight expired, but still I ran. I heard voices, and yowls, and echoes, but above all there
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Strewth! A short story about ghostly rats running down this bloke's walls in his newly renovated mansion sending him insane. If he was still alive, I'd drag H.P. Lovecraft over to our home for the night and he could listen to the NON-ghostly possums doing line dancing on our roof every night. Now THAT would send you insane. (Thank God for the invention of the possum trap.)

Not very scary. Not very long. Not very good. But readable ... I suppose. I didn't like that he called one of his moggies Ni
Jun 10, 2019 added it
Shelves: eng-200
Lovecraft had a very interesting mind...that's for sure...
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was trying to remember if I had read any H. P. Lovecraft in college...I most likely did....but I can't remember one thing I read in college. I remember Poe, most certainly, but Lovecraft doesn't stand out. I was looking at a list of great stories about haunted houses,and out of the 7 I had already read 5. This one, which on the list, I had not,and I am certain I'd not read this particular one before. I loved being a virgin on this one....I found myself wide eyed through out, because Lovecraft ...more
Joshua Shioshita
This is vintage Lovecraft. You've got a sort of ancestral curse, descendants suffering for the sins of their ancestors, hidden esoteric knowledge that leads to damnation, devolved humanity, a preoccupation with insanity, madness, & mental obfuscation, cats, cannibalism, and heroic antiquarians & scholars who tackle evil with their brains instead of their brawn...and end up all the worse for it.
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
The Rats in the Walls is told by a last living member of the de la Poer family.
On July 16th, 1923 he left everything in America and came to his ancestral home in England - Exham Priory.
'Unlike our planter neighbours, we seldom boasted of crusading ancestors or other mediaeval and Renaissance heroes; nor was any kind of tradition handed down except what may have been recorded in the sealed envelope left before the Civil War by every squire to his eldest son for posthumous opening.'
Brenda Bauer
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of Lovecraft's finest short stories. Poor Delapore should have stayed in America and not returned to his ancestral home in Britain. He came from an "accursed line" and when he discovers exactly how cursed, it is too late. This is a very dark tale and Lovecraft weaves a terrifying story with ornate but beautiful language and imagery.
Sarah Marie
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. Rats are the worst. Review to come.
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
"I had now been shown the thing which certain forces had wished to show me."

Superb work.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
Finally, a piece of Lovecraft's writing interests me. A man lives in an ancient house haunted by the sound of nocturnal rats. The beginning story is familiar with Bram Stoker's The Judge's House I read in school, but suddenly the story hits to the darkest and most twisted part and leaves the reader get lost in the mind of a mad and cruel man.

While Bram Stoker portrays the anxiety of a man towards external fears, reflected by the xenophobia, diseases and the emergence of the middle-class and the
Emm - One Thousand Years of Books
4.5. In short, an intense descent into horror. Has its issues, but the premise is great. Review to come as part of a Lovecraft miniseries :)
Julie Rylie
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
a house that was set on fire due to a plague of gigantic rats that were abnormal. The heir comes back and reconstructs the whole house and the terror comes back to life again...
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, horror
I'm a weenie when it comes to scary stories, reliably hearing ominous creaks and other peculiar noises in my quiet house while reading about horrors stalking the unwary, but, not having inherited an ancestral mansion with a shadowed past (and if I did I sure's heck wouldn't excavate the sub-sub-basement!), I found “Rats in the Walls” not scary and... well, campy good fun! Lovecraft's lurid prose and slow reveal of the Ancient and Inescapable Horror (the opening reminded me very much of du Maurie ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do you know when you are so exhausted that you say to yourself "I HAVE TO SLEEP", but that's exactly when you lie in the bed and you can do anything else but sleep?

That's what happened to me, it was past 1 am and I couldn't sleep in my hotel room. I got my e-reader and opened one random tale among the many I had downloaded a week before the trip. I started reading The Rats in the Walls.

I swear I didn't get scared, but I also swear I could hear rats scurrying behind the hotel's walls for the whol
Michael Sorbello
Feels like a more fleshed out and intense version of The Lurking Fear. Much of the same elements are borrowed such as the family house with a terrible history, deformed, human-like monstrosities and a very subtle reference to a creature from the Cthulhu Mythos.

The dread and tension as the protagonist explores the dark corridors of the wretched house’s forbidden depths smothers you with its intensity. The decrepit tragedies lurking within its violent and disturbing history were passed down throu
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Basic Plot: The last man in his family line decides to go back to his family's ancestral home to renovate and preserve his legacy, only to find there's more history to the house than he really wants to know.

This is one of Lovecraft's masterpieces of terror that doesn't directly mention his well-known elder gods directly, but hints at elder evil nonetheless. It's one of my favorite stories, truly a creepfest.

Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the most effective, innovative, terrifying, and accessible of all H. P. Lovecraft's horror works. It's not as fun as "Herbert West, Reanimator" or as surreal and smart as "The Silver Key," but hey, I'm only writing this sentence to bring up other Lovecraftian masterpieces. Highly recommended.
Veronika Červencová
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best examples of Lovercraft's extraordinary talent to tell dark, mysterious stories with the atmosphere that make you sleep with the light on.
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly creepy, atmospheric, and horrifying - one of Lovecraft's best. This one seems far more succinct and better paced - not nearly the same interminable build before the climax. Very good!
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Classic Horror Lo...: Rats in the Wall by HP Lovecraft *Spoilers* 23 46 Oct 10, 2011 02:37PM  

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft, of Providence, Rhode Island, was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror: life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a
“Ultimate horror often paralyses memory in a merciful way.” 167 likes
“Through all this horror my cat stalked unperturbed. Once I saw him monstrously perched atop a mountain of bones, and wondered at the secrets that might lie behind his yellow eyes.” 89 likes
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