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.
Another good and a climatic read for early autumn nights is “Prey” by Graham Masterton, a book that is one of the most mysterious and puzzling works by the author and I never knew if I got it ‘right’ or not, if that take on books really exist.
Fortyfoot House is an abandoned, ruined Victorian orphanage on island Wight, which hides a horrible secret inside of its walls. Over hundred years ago, more than sixty residents died in unexplained circumstances. People living nearby to this date try to avoid discussing any matters around that empty Victorian building.
David Williams, freshly divorced parent of a seven years old boy decides to renovate this building. David and his son are accompanied by a young girl who is going to stay with them and shortly after, a series of strange events will take place…
The book starts in great style with a scene where our protagonist is looking through the loft of the residence which he wants to restore to its original beauty. This scene sets a great atmosphere of dread and fear and from this point onwards it is going to be getting darker, stranger and scarier as David will have to face a whole wave of unexplained phenomenons which he’ll understand finally when he learns the secret of this old orphanage.
But before it all takes place we will witness scary events including a strange man wearing a hat that appears and disappears at random, or photographs that are hang on the walls but keep on changing what they depict, and then we will face strange sounds coming from guts of the building all the way to blood freezing scenes of deaths of people living nearby.
In order to work out all this oddness, David will have to find out the history of the building and also get acquainted with some old Sumerian myths and rituals that might led him to leaving the present to move back in time…
As I mentioned earlier “Prey” by Graham Masterton is one of those strange and slightly confusing books that leave you a bit puzzled and not quite sure if the horror you just faced was actually there or if it is something you’re quite unable to fully comprehend. Regardless of this ending, that to date left me a bit insatiable, the novel was a great set of pages worth turning over during some creepy evenings to add some spice to already atmospheric nights around me.
I can’t remember the design of the cover of “Walkers” by Graham Masterton but I sure can remember enjoying the creepy atmosphere this British writer created in this book. As it is quite common with some of his work, the main complaint would be the length of the book or lack thereof. But first things first.
Jack Reed, a happy husband and father finds an old residence during one of his voyages on a rainy day and he falls in love with it. The his next step is to turn this ruined abandoned building into a hotel. There is one huge obstacle to jump through though, the building’s history and its contents within the walls… As Jack soon finds out more and more about his recent object of such strong emotions.
A story from over sixty years ago reveals the building purpose. It used to be some kind of mental asylum where rapists, murderers ,mentally ill and all sort of psychopaths used to be kept away from the world. There used to be over 100 patients and their main leader was Quintus Miller.
He used to be short but of muscular build, his eyes were showing no emotions and his upper body had an awful tattoo depicting two hands reaching from behind his back and tearing his stomach apart. One unique fella.
One day all the inmates disappear. No one knows what had happened there. As it later turns out, all the patients had been magically united with the building itself.
With a help of some ancient spell all of these psychopaths were melted into the walls of the asylum and to rid of them and the curse itself there is only one solution. Murdering eight hundred people will free Quintus and his horde of murderers from the spell that holds them captured within the walls of the old asylum.
Jack will have to face this enormous and scary task and the price of this endeavour will be his son’s existence. The battle between Quintus and Jack might lead Jack’s son to become one of the needed victims unless Jack finds an alternative solution to this horrific challenge he is faced with.
As much fun I had while reading “Walkers” due to the creepy atmosphere of mental asylums, the stories of its patients and very vivid and disturbing descriptions of murders and insights of minds of the disturbed people as much I disliked the fact that the book wasn’t longer and that Masterton didn’t elaborate more in certain points of the story or that he didn’t involve some side stories from within the book more. Nevertheless it was a great read for an autumn evening.
Well. I might as well finish off the Rook series with “Swimmer” which is the fifth book in this great journey we embarked on by following Jim Rook, an English teacher from Los Angeles. I know there have been more titles written with Jim as the main protagonist but I haven’t gotten the chance yet to find out what these journeys are about and what monsters we come to face.
The novel starts as off with a terrifying accident at a swimming pool. A small boy, son of Jim’s past student gets drowned by a vengeful demon and only Jim is able to notice its presence.
Desperate mother of that poor boy ask Jim for help in getting rid of the wraith lurking in the pool. There isn’t a lot of time available as the demon continues with its killings which become more and more frequent and all Jim’s friends are finding themselves in a great danger.
It seems as the story follows the same script and it might feel old and worn out but following some unexplained events in the story as it progresses, it unveils one of the biggest surprises of the whole Rook series so it’s not the type of reading that one might think one had seen it all read it all.
Graham Mastertons allows us to get to know Jim Rook even better in this title and it gives us another platform to explore how deep his feelings and motives are.
In “Swimmer” we get the fight between the horrid being and Jim, we find out about that mysterious secret and we realise that Jim is trying to get seriously involved in the romantic relationship with his fellow teacher. It all gets really complicated and messed up due to the never ending threat of immediate death from the “hands” of this vicious entity that is probably the worst creature that Jim has so far come across.
I think the main points selling this book is the continuity we get in development of Jim’s character and the beast he faces. I have really enjoyed the series as I found it as a refreshing change of usual Masterton’s brutal climate that still offers plenitude of Masterson’s character and great dose of humour. It wasn’t till recently that I realised there is actually more of Jim’s world and perpetuations to go through and I must get on right track of chasing it all up. There’s just too many books and too little time.
One might think that the fourth book in series “Rook” titled “Snowman” would mean that Graham Masterton run of new ideas or concepts but that is far from truth. The series had definitely grew on me as I was going through different journeys with Jim and his troubled students.
This time around, in the middle of the summer, Jack Hubbard arrives and enriches Jim student’s group. And there is something else that comes to the school and its surroundings with Jack.
It appears that winter has come with Jack as there is no other explanation as to why would water in school toilet freeze, or swimming pool with people in it would also display signs of frost and winter. There’s loads of signs of upcoming winter but the problem is, it’s middle of the summer and the weather as such hasn’t changed at all.
Jim is the only person able to challenge the anomalies but in order to do that, he’ll need to embark on a dangerous journey to a land of never ending ice and the thing is, not every one will make it back alive from there.
Jim Rook experiences a huge moral metamorphosis in “Snowman”. He’s faced with quite few moral dilemmas and also discovery of the true meaning of what it means to be responsible for another human being. The ending leaves plenty of room for one’s imagination to work on but I personally felt like this title could had been longer as I felt some need for more from our protagonist’s life. There was always a hope for another part of the series but this book really left me a bit hungrier than usual.
If you decided to grab “The Terror”, third book in “Rook” series you must have had liked Jim Rook and his adventures. This time, there’s a new student in our teacher’s class and that new arrival will cause some serious stir.
Rafael Diaz is a dark and mysterious person when he arrives at the scene of our story and he influences the class straight away which leads it all to a strange phenomenon where Rafael, using old Mayan’s ritual, cleanses souls of his new class mates from any irrational fears they might have, regardless of them being agoraphobia, fear of the dark, height or anything else that can plague modern society.
The problem is, the student’s fears haven’t disappeared. All of the fears that Rafael exorcised out of his classmates came back under a disguise of a demonic creature, which starts hunting for Jim’s students. One by one.
Jim has to face the evil yet again and whatever creature he’ll have to face, Jim will be supported by an expert of Mayan’s culture and his… dead friend.
“The Terror” is another great and worthy continuation of the Rook series where Masterson keeps the climate and atmosphere that he already showed to us in his two earlier titles. This time around we get to ask question about the nature of fear and its impact on human behaviour.
Jim’s world is full of humour and the dread that seems to follow him, mainly due to his love towards his students he’d sacrifice his life for. That’s one of the reasons why this story reads so well as we turn the pages all we wish for is for Jim to succeed.
In “Tooth and Claw”, second title in “Rook” series, Graham Masterton swiftly separates Jim Rook from dealing with Voodoo issues as experienced in the first title of the series and takes us back to learning about the Indian culture, as he had done before in few of his books.
As in the first story the pivot point is a murder. This time it appears that the main force of the murder is inside of Jim’s class and it is hidden behind beautiful Susan White Bird, very well protected by her brothers young woman. When one of Susan’s admirers dies, it is them that fall into suspicion of the brutal murder committed on one of Jim’s students but as it turns out, matters are not as simple as firstly thought.
Another murder happens and it is even more bloody and brutal than the previous one and the police realise that Susan’s brothers couldn’t be involved and that’s where Jim realises something out of this world is involved and he must do everything he can to stop the brutality. Firstly though, he has to find out what he is faced against and how it all led to this point.
And that’s where we learn that Susan White Bird had became a part of a mystic deal between her family and the most terrifying creature of Navajo myth, Coyote. She is now under the influence of the old Indian powers and only Jim can rescue her from the deal her family made and Jim is the only one able to stop the murders as the police continues to be puzzled by the whole situation.
Can Jim find a solution? If he does can he do it in time? There’s only one way to find out.
“Tooth and Claw” is a great continuation of Jim’s journey, written in the same style with a nice dose of humour and dread the book reads well and it makes you appreciate how skilfully Graham Masterton utilises variety of myths, legends and folklore of other nations.
“Night Plague” is the third book from Graham Masterton’s series called “Night Warriors” and in my opinion is the best from the series as its atmosphere is rather brutal in places reminding me of some darkest titles written by Masterton.
Stanley, an American cello players is brutally raped while in London with a visit. The attacker seems to be a pale faced figure wearing hooded piece of clothing. As it later turns out, the rapist isn’t human and the act of raping is much more than just a sexual offense and its meaning is much more deeper than we could originally anticipate.
What occurs is Stanley gets infected with the Night Plague that transmits through violent sex acts while person who’s infected is having dreams. The goal of the infection is to destroy the soul, not the body.
Once infected, one can not get rid of dark thoughts, he or she loses the sense of dignity and slowly starts sliding down into hole of madness.
While his own identity starts falling apart, Stanley finds out he is a descendant of a Night Warrior and his destiny is to fight against the evil, which started spreading the plague.
Fortunately he is not alone in the fight and with the help of other Night Warriors Stanley must face the quickly growing troubles. We find out that two other Night Warriors became infected and there is less and less time and the evil and the plague grows stronger and becomes bigger. Eventually witch Isabel, the best servant of Satan, who was kept captured in stoned prison while she was asleep, slowly wakes up and becomes more powerful.
The matters reach the peak when one finds out that the witch has a baby with one of the Night Warriors…
In “Night Plague” Graham Masterton introduces new ideas that keep the series fresh and give some extra light at the whole story. There’s a lack of brave fights to visualise the never ending conflict between the good and the evil. Instead the reader realises how powerful the plague can be and how destructive the thoughts and visions one encounters can become in the outcome of one’s actions.
“Death Dream” is second book in a series “Night Warriors” written by Graham Masterton. Unlike with the movies, book sequels give you a good chance at having experience a creation that is at least equal (if not better at times) than the original piece.
Known to us Springer, descendant of the god Ashapol, will be assembling an army of powerful warriors, who possess the tools able to destroy evil while they are entering consciousness of sleeping humans. We’ll meet our hero’s we met in the first book but they’ll not play key roles. Their addition is a nice continuation of the series making it all click between the two titles.
This time around, we meet John, a man who is a single parent to his sin, Lenny. A young boy starts to see a horrid ghost in his dreams and with each passing day the creature becomes more real. The evil is creeping out but our characters are not her aware.
Lenny with passing time becomes a gate, that enables the demonic ghost from Lenny’s dreams to enter the world of the living to take what he wants as he pleases. During one of the brutal sessions where the world of dreams interacts and impacts the world of living John loses his new girlfriend, while he escapes the death only to be hurt and paralysed.
John’s frustration and powerlessness becomes more and more apparent to the point of John stopping believing in himself and it is then when meets Springer who explains to him that he can destroy the demon as he is one of the Night Warriors. He will need some help though but luckily there’s plenty of that available.
That’s where the problem with the book starts, at least for me, as with the addition of new warriors it becomes a bit difficult to incorporate all of them into a fluid action. Another point is, that the previous characters we met in first book become a bit faded which was a bit of shame as I expected the journey to continue with the known to me identities.
Anyway, back to book. This time around the evil is not there to destroy the whole world or at least a nation. The actions of the creature are influenced by a small group oif people making the experience of our protagonist that much personal. There is a lot pain and grief that the characters must overcome making this title a bit difficult to allow reader to get into position of the main character, but on the other hand it creates a very unique, brutal book that leaves one quite shaken up with emotions.
I enjoyed reading “Death Dream” even though I expected to “meet my friends” from the first book in the series.
As always with Masterson’s book the story holds up well and keeps you wanting more and more. At times I had wished that Graham made thus story a little big longer in order to accommodate our previously used characters better in the realms of this story.
“Night Warriors” was Graham Masterton’s first novel where he used elements of fantasy and science- fiction. It was also my first book that introduced me to slightly different type of action and opened some new worlds for me down the road.
In the book there’s no one main character. Instead we have a small group of people who meet at a beach, where there’s been a body of young girl found. The trio seems to be completely not belonging to one another as Harry is an ex philosophy professor who is going through some alcohol problems phase. Susan who was adopted by her grandparents after a tragic death of her parents and Gil, teenager whose father owns a supermarket.
There is deep connection between the trio as they are all descendants of Night Warriors- an army of powerful warriors fighting in dreams against the evil.
And the evil is getting reborn, the devil’s returning and soon the dreams of all Americans will be in danger as he’ll try to spread his descendants to rule the world.
Our protagonists become a completely different personalities during their sleep. They turn into Warriors of the night, each of them having a power or a gift that allows them fighting the forces of evil.
As the action develops they are joined by Lloyd and eventually, all of them guided by Springer, asexual equivalent of an angel will have to face the devil Yaomautila.
It’s a carefully created own world by Masterton who filled it with his own rules, his own gods and forces fighting against them in the never ending theme of the good against the evil. “Night Warriors” and few other titles that continue the series are the only ones that reach out in the sci-fi area of Masterton’s writing but they still have loads of common points of Graham classic horror titles. The series is a great way to try something slightly new and see where it’ll take us. You never know.