When I read “The Home that Jack built” by Graham Masterton while leaving in Poland, the book was titled “Valhalla” which gave me a first impression of something else than I kept thinking about while getting ready to read it. Well the title is not the most important matter in the book and a bit of misleading isn’t a crime when it comes to fiction.
The story starts quite bluntly by gripping your crotch tightly and quite painfully too. We meet Craig, an arrogant, very confident and a bit stuck up his arse lawyer who appears to have everything- a beautiful and loving wife, a great job, a very attractive lover, loads of money that he can spend on any type of caprice he can think of.
One evening he gets thrown out of a cab during an argument with a taxi driver. While looking for a shelter as it is pouring down, he gets interrupted by a troubled girl who is covered in blood and asking for assistance in rescuing her friend who got attacked. The whole scene turns out to be a trap and Craig gets attacked but stealing money won’t be enough for Craig’s attackers; they’ll also brutally scare him with a help of a hammer. A scene that takes me back to ‘Black Angel’ and some other earlier novels by the British author.
Craig loses not only his money or physical health in the attack but his personality takes a great deal of beating and he loses his confidence and usual self. He tries to find himself and the biggest help he is receiving is from his wife. During one of their escapades they discover a huge, neglected and abandoned home named Valhalla.
Our protagonist falls in love with the building and believes that owning such huge house would cure his insecurities. He is sure to buy it despite the fact that this type of money required for repairs and renovations would lead him to near sure bankruptcy. He stays firm on his decision even despite the fact there is a bit of history behind Valhalla. It used to be owned by an obsessive gambler, very rich and very vengeful man that used to hate women.
The house turns out to be haunted, although not in the classic type of haunting horror fans are used to. The way the house was designed, allows it to be simultaneously in the past, the presence and the future together with any people that used to live here.
It doesn’t take long until people start dying and Craig starts transforming into someone else, scaring slowly his wife with the unavoidable fact that he appears to becoming the previous owner of Valhalla, both physically and mentally. The wife starts to look for help in nearby occultist shop where the owner might be able to help her…
Reading “The House that Jack built” doesn’t shock you with the uniqueness of the story or the strangeness of events or characters but the atmosphere around the house, the few brutal scenes in the book as well as plenty of colourful and well constructed dialogues makes up for the fairly simple idea of the plot.
For those using e-books, the kindle edition can be found here.