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Benighted

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  312 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A torrential downpour forces Philip and Margaret Waverton and their friend Roger Penderel to seek shelter in an ancient, crumbling mansion inhabited by the strange and sinister Femm family. Determined to make the best of the circumstances, the benighted travellers drink and talk to pass the time while the storm rages outside. But as the night progresses and tensions rise, ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published July 2018 by Valancourt Books (first published 1927)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Janie C.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An immersive novel, Benighted easily captures the reader's attention with both psychological insight and dark humor. Forces of nature drive five travelers to a crumbling mansion to wait out a storm. The residents of the mansion are far from welcoming, and their manners are ominous. The stranded "guests" begin the long evening getting familiar with each other through conversational games, providing the reader with acute psychological perception. Discovering the thoughts running through each perso ...more
Kimberly
BENIGHTED, by J.B. Priestly, is a novel that was originally published in 1927, re-issued by Valancourt Books in 2013, and reprinted in 2018. This version includes an introduction by Orrin Grey. There is a film based on this novel entitled The Old Dark House, that was released by Universal Pictures in 1932--at the height of the "dark house" phase in literature and film.

". . . It's our flesh . . . the jellied stuff that rots so easily, which quivers and creeps, goes goose with fright; but our b
...more
Sirensongs
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: valancourt-books
A quick read, and a very pleasant surprise! At turns funny, suspenseful, poignant and frightening, BENIGHTED kept me riveted until I reached the last page. Priestley's insight into the psyches of his characters is profound, and at times I marveled that this had been written in the 20s, some of the psychology seemed so modern, and yet so timeless simultaneously. So many of the characters' astute observations could be applied to the world as it is now nearly 90 years later. I was left with a feeli ...more
Timothy Mayer
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Old Dark House is one novel any horror literature fan should take the time to read. It's not that long and takes place in the course of one evening. Written by J.P. Priestly in 1927, it was published in the United States as The Old Dark House, but originally as Benighted (the title you can find it at through Valancourt Books). It was filmed as The Old Dark House in 1932 and can be purchased on Blu-Ray.

Philip Waverton, his wife Margaret and their friend Roger Penderel are traveling across Wal
...more
Nancy Oakes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Warren Fournier
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This 1927 masterpiece of horror and suspense was perhaps the most influential of the "old dark house" subgenre, and in fact, the U.S. publication was titled "The Old Dark House," spawning the classic Universal horror film of the same name featuring Boris Karloff fresh off of his success with "Frankenstein." The influence of this novel on the horror genre in general, from haunted house stories to slashers, cannot be understated. It is fortuitous that I reviewed an 80s paperback original earlier t ...more
Sandy
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While growing up in the 1960s, I used to love whenever one of the local TV channels would show one of British director James Whale's Big 3 horror movies, all from Universal Studios: "Frankenstein" (1931), "The Invisible Man" (1933) and, perhaps best of all, the eternal glory that is "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935). What I was unaware of back then was the fact that there was a fourth Universal horror film directed by Whale, and that bit of youthful ignorance was not entirely my fault. Whale's "The ...more
Orrin Grey
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My early review of this was lame, and this one ain't like to get much lamer, but I felt I should say a little something about it. In the time since I first read this book, it was acquired for reissue by the fine folks at Valancourt Books, who were kind enough to ask me to do the introduction for it, which I was more than happy to do. That's the edition that this review should be linking to now, and it's the edition that I recommend you pick up, and I do recommend picking it up, because, besides ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Although little read today, J.B. Priestley was one of the most prolific and popular British literary figures of the 20th century. He began to make his mark as a theater critic before publishing his first two novels in 1927. One of those was Benighted, his entry into the then popular genre of the Old Dark House horror story. The novel was retitled The Old Dark House for U.S. publication and filmed under that name by James Whale in 1932.

In an Old Dark House story, a group of mismatched characters,
...more
Michael
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because I enjoyed the James Whale film adaptation, The Old Dark House. Atmospheric and amusing as the film is, the book (naturally) is better.

There are no gruesome shocks in the way of modern horror but, if you let your imagination put you in the shoes of the lonely travellers who find themselves stranded in the strange old Femm house, it is really creepy and horripilating.

Priestley is able to go inside his characters thoughts and history in much more depth than Whale was able
...more
Frances
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Frances by: Orrin Grey
Of all things, I'm reminded of Of Human Bondage; there's a certain compelling unhappiness to Penderel and the Wavertons, a mannerly sorrow. It felt like watching classic horror/suspense, but there's a lot of development that I wouldn't expect to be given the same weight on film; I'm curious to see the movie, now, and may catch it for the Feast of the Long Shadows.

I found the denouement a bit abrupt, but I think if it had actually been played out I would have found it dragged on (actually, if it
...more
Michael Adams
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Far less overtly horrific than I expected, but expertly written character drama, featuring some extraordinarily insightful dialogue, and hauntingly tense plotting make this a classic of the old, dark house sub-genre. Excellently done.
Natalie aka Tannat
2.5 stars

Something just didn't click with me with this story. It seemed to take forever to actually get going despite things happening with the storm quite early on, and I felt let down by the ending.
...more
Dan Myatt
A wonderfully atmospheric read.

You could feel the rain, the damp and the claustrophobic darkness of the Old Dark House!

A brilliant book!
Jim Dooley
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Back in 2003, I first saw the original 1932 film THE OLD DARK HOUSE, and I desperately wanted to read the original source material, BENIGHTED. This proved to be quite a problem because the book had been out of print for many years and buying a collector's copy would prove very expensive. So, for the past ten-years, this has been my Holy Grail book. Imagine my excitement when I learned that it had recently been returned to the publication list.

Suffice it to say that it proved worth the wait.

I
...more
Alex
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
The opening is excellent. Love the snappy pacing of the first couple chapters and all the details of early motoring. There’s also a very effective—almost cinematic—use of light and dark throughout the book. Also the introduction of the looming butler who lurches was delightful! There are straight lines that can be drawn between this and the Addams Family. And then Addams apparently drew and animated the title sequence for the remake of The Old Dark House in the 60’s.

Priestley again delivers a p
...more
Bryan Ball
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic— funny, scary and suspenseful read, dripping with atmosphere. I’ve long loved the film adaptation, James Whale’s “The Old Dark House.” The movie is a gem of creepy house atmosphere— complete with Boris Karloff and Charles Laughton.

Reading this novel is much like the film, but experiencing the story in a deeper way. This novel is more than a group of strangers being stranded at an old, desolate and dark house in Wales one rainy and flooding stormy night. It’s a poignant expl
...more
Debra
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This old book surprisingly does little to date itself and has great messages, in addition to being quite entertaining. it is easy reading, but has quite a bit of depth. There is nothing supernatural going on, just an evil/disturbed family in a old house, with 5 unwelcome guests seeking shelter from a terrible storm, flooding, and landslides. If I were you, I'd read the book first, then rent/buy the movie with Boris Karloff. Movie/book spoiler: (view spoiler) ...more
David
On one level it functions simply as a thriller, your classic tale of a bizarre isolated house with a strange, diseased, deranged, family living in it, during a storm. All those elements are there. But it is also a talky book, suggested to be about post-World War I disillusionment as represented by the fact that none of the protagonists is really happy despite one being extremely rich, another two being more or less contentedly married etc. There is a lot in this “simple thriller” about honesty i ...more
Adam Carson
Five lost travellers trapped on a stormy Welsh hillside , you can pretty much guess the tone of the book from there!

This is an excellently written, atmospheric and spooky tale. It really should be read by a fire in a big country house...
Michael
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, horror
Benighted is quite well-written and timeless in many ways. It tends toward philosophy, psychology, and introspection more than I was expecting, and as a result, it is also relatively slow-moving, though it's such a short novel, that's less of an issue than it might have been. Sometimes characters act in maddening ways-- repeatedly splitting up, for instance. (There's one example of this that I found particularly annoying, but it's a major spoiler, so I'll put that behind a spoiler warning, furth ...more
Wayne Craske
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book by Priestley I have read- the others being the novel 'the magicians' and the collection of short stories 'the other place'. I have never been disappointed by his writing- his style, use of language, plotting and characterization are all excellent.
This short novel is no exception. I couldn't keep from reading it- it was compulsively well written. It is an early novel by Priestley, and a 'old dark house' tale: a group of travellers take shelter in a mysterious house, possess
...more
Mike
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of Golden Age crime fiction recently and thought I'd give this one a go, JBP having the extra attraction of being a 'real writer'.

I wasn't impressed. The writing is slow and descriptive, unsuitable for the type of story it was trying to tell. I'm well-used to the writing style of the period but this story took things to a new level, interrupting what could have been exciting, rollicking scenes to examine the inner world of the protagonists. Really takes you out of the story. This
...more
Hugo
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written and charmingly amusing, and perhaps definitive, 'old dark house' tale, with viewpoint chapters allowing for a Freudian depth of character which underpins the post-war allegory and social comment which was Priestley's intent, accentuated by the climax, which avoids the somewhat clumsier happy ending of the film. ...more
Atom Bezecny
"This is yet another book which I have spent my precious reading time on this year which features a Party of Roving Twits. You probably know the kind, even if you haven't read any of the abominable thrillers of the '20s and '30s which feature the archetype (and which I keep reading because I'm an idiot with high hopes). Everyone who isn't a pretentious asshat is foppish and disengaged to the point of inducing aneurysm. I tried to find conversations between the protagonists that were both interes ...more
Cathy Cole

J. B. Priestley was an extremely popular author in the late 1920s and the 1930s, and when someone told me about Benighted, I had to read it. I love stories about old, scary houses, and this book inspired a 1930s film, "The Old Dark House," which gave birth to a whole genre of movies.

Benighted is the tale of people stranded by a horrendous storm and flooding in a remote corner of Wales. Their place of refuge is an ancient, dark, creepy old manor house inhabited by four of the strangest people you
...more
AlexF
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clangsy Laurea
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
It has been raining a lot when I began reading this. I wanted a quick horror read that could get me started on another scarier book. I was looking through horror paperbacks from way back. And I don't know why but this immediately caught my eye.

This story is about a group of travelers who got caught up in a storm. They see a house in the middle of the moors and asked for shelter from the sinister Femms. As the night wears on, creepy and terrible things happen to the group...

Anyway, I'm going to
...more
Janet
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to enjoy this book more. The story is everything I love -- strangers brought together by dire circumstances, forced to seek asylum in a haunted, isolated house with its creepy, possibly dangerous inhabitants… My inclination is to give it 2 stars but out of fairness I am giving it 3 (and if I had read it attentively, I may have given it 4). Reading during the holidays is difficult and perhaps short stories would have been a better choice to accommodate the distractions. So alas, a ...more
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Horror Aficionados : Benighted (1927) by J. B. Priestley 5 22 Jul 07, 2018 07:45PM  
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John Boynton Priestley, the son of a schoolmaster, was born in Bradford in September 1894, and after schooling he worked for a time in the local wool trade. Following the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, Priestley joined the British Army, and was sent to France --in 1915 taking part in the Battle of Loos. After being wounded in 1917 Priestley returned to England for six months; then, after going ...more

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“A grey tide, engulfing all colour and shape of things that had been or were to be, rushed across his mind, sweeping the life out of everything and leaving him all hollow inside. Once again he sat benumbed in a shadow show. Yet as ever—and this was the cruel stroke—there was something left, left to see that all the lights were being quenched, left to cry out with a tiny crazed voice in the grey wastes. This was what mattered, this was the worst, and black nights and storms and floods and crumbling hills were not to be compared with this treachery from within. It wasn’t panic nor despair, he told himself, that made so many fellows commit suicide; it was this recurring mood, draining the colour out of life and stuffing one’s mouth with ashes. One crashing bullet and there wasn’t even anything left to remember what had come and gone, to cry in the mind’s dark hollow; life could then cheat as it liked, for it did not matter; you had won the last poor trick. Having conjured the malady into a phrase or two, Penderel felt better, came out of his reverie and looked about for entertainment.” 0 likes
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