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The Rats in the Walls

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"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 scurrying behind the walls. Upon investigating further, he finds that his family maintained an underground city for centuries and that the inhabitants of the city fed on human flesh, even going so far as to raise generations of human cattle, who eventually began to de-evolve due to their sub-human living conditions.

25 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 1924

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About the author

H.P. Lovecraft

4,000 books16.4k followers
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 series of loosely interconnected fictions featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Christianity. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades. He is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th Century, exerting widespread and indirect influence, and frequently compared to Edgar Allan Poe.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 533 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,851 reviews16.4k followers
February 27, 2019
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, using the Delapore House as a literal symbol of this illustration or was it just a useful setting for a connection with long buried pagan rites.

Lovecraft: Well, a little of both. Certainly the surface meaning is the literal – and England was the perfect place, in that you have layers of past civilizations building on top of the other – so we had a medieval manor atop a Roman building, which was built on an earlier Celtic site and of course I implied that there was an even earlier site. The symbolism was not as obvious, but still works.

Stoker: Layers of civilization is an element that I liked too, the idea of the land having a power unto itself and then later generations or later societies placing their touch on that same spot, but the earlier magic still creeping through – just a great vehicle for a story. I’m getting another Guinness, anyone want something?

Poe: HP, what about the insanity, was this a result of the place or was it specifically directed at the narrator as a member of the Delapore family?

Lovecraft: Really more about him, not just as the scion of the family but also him as the narrator, I wanted the reader to watch the progression of the madness.

Howard: And the rats! What a great symbol of evil and ancient depravity.

Lovecraft: Yes, thanks to Ed and Bram for that lesson, these creatures of the night strike a chord in each of us. I think this is one of my best stories.

Stoker: Thank you boyo, looks like your 12th level cleric is about to level up.

Lovecraft: Come on let’s finish, I want to watch the Pats game.

Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.2k followers
October 2, 2021

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 Tales in 1925, “The Rats in the Walls” has all the important Lovecraft elements except for the mythos itself (and it's even got that, if you count the one casual reference to Nyarlothotep): ancestral crimes; crypts littered with bones, bones that whisper of devolution; subterranean pathways leading ever downward, further and further into the past; parallel inscriptions in ancient languages; and a Latin description of “the most shocking ritual I have ever known,” telling of “the diet of the antediluvian cult which the priests of Cybele found and mingled with their own.”

Oh boy. Read it now. Why wait?

One last note. I feel unending gratitude to this story, for it taught me that the word “white,” properly used, could be scarier than the word “black.” As in this passage: “the floundering, squealing white thing on which Sir John Clave’s horse trod one night in a lonely field.”

It still makes me shudder to think of it.
Profile Image for Mohammed-Makram.
1,390 reviews2,933 followers
February 16, 2023

انتهت الحرب العالمية الأولى بكل بشاعتها و عبثيتها و عاد ابنه مصابا إصابة خطيرة ثم لم يلبث أن مات متأثرا بلإصابته بعد عامين. و قبلها مات الجد في حريق مروع أودى بحياته و بالبيت و بسر العائلة المحفوظ في مظروف تتوارثه الأجيال. يلجأ إلى ملاذ أخير للراحة النفسية في بيتهم القديم بإنجلترا التي هاجرت منها عائلته قبل عدة أجيال إلى الولايات المتحدة فيجد المفاجأة في انتظاره.
قصة رعب قصيرة من لافكرافت و ترجمة أحمد الديب. يظن بعض الناس أني مثقف و أنا لا أعرف حتى معنى كلمة مثقف و لم أقرأ لـ لافكرافت أبدا رغم عشرات الروايات التي ألفها و لم أقرأ كثيرا في الأدب الأمريكي الحديث أو حتى القديم. أما أحمد الديب فاعرفه منذ قرأت كتابه الجميل حكايات بعد النوم و كما وجدته في كتابه السابق جميلا رشيقا سليم اللغة فقد وجدته هنا مترجما من النوع الذي لا تشعر معه أبدا بأنك تقرأ كلاما تمت كتابته بلغة أخرى و ثقافة أخرى فتأتي الترجمة مربكة و مملة و إنما هو هنا على العكس جتءت ترجمته أكثر من رائعة لتتناسب مع هذه النوفيلا الممتعة التي يمكن أن تُقرأ في أقل من ساعة.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book834 followers
May 27, 2020
This short story, one of the first 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 is about a deserted, worm-eaten house where some seamy murder might have taken place long ago. The hellish vermin in the foundations of the house is not readily apparent, but gradually revealed through the narrator’s somnolent states, often haunted with a “fear of the unknown” (a typical Lovecraftian sort of fear).

There is a thinly veiled reference to the trench warfare of World War I which, like the Pied Piper, takes children away. But one particular feature of this story is its constant intertextuality, especially in the literature of depravity and decay: hints to Petronius, to Catullus, to the Marquis de Sade, to E.T.A. Hoffmann, to Huysmans. The atrocious cesspits behind the recesses in the walls and underneath the house are like an unfathomable secret library, and its broken skulls are like open books that can make the reader stammer and drive him mad.

As a side note, it’s also — to my knowledge — the first story where Lovecraft mentions Nyarlathotep, one of the deities in his fanciful pantheon.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,109 reviews44.2k followers
August 8, 2018
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 with your house illuminated only by candle light. The atmosphere is eerily fantastic and his stories are really quite haunting.

This one, as the name suggests, is about rats. I’ve never found rats scary, in fact, I think they’re quite cute. I laughed out loud when I read James Herbert’s attempt at demonising the little fluff balls in his novel The Rats. The point is, rats just aren’t that scary. They’re nice animals really, we’ve just given them a bad reputation. Unless they’re ethereal rats that haunt an old Priory that has long since been abandoned, like Lovecraft’s rats, then they are just not very convincing terrors.

Like all good pieces of horror fiction, the physical torment is the lesser half of the canvas. Where true horror comes from is mental anguish such as pain, desperation and stress caused by a lack of understanding about the events. We are not supposed to understand horrors, that’s what makes them so horrific. Lovecraft’s victims are perplexed and confused by the things they encounter as they question the rules of reality itself. And here Lovecraft delivers that masterfully as they try to find these rats that don't really exist.

So this is a very good piece of horror writing from the master himself.
Profile Image for Anne.
388 reviews72 followers
September 30, 2021
”Through a nearly square opening in the titled floor, sprawling on a flight of stone steps so prodigiously worn that it was little more than an inclined plane at the centre, was a ghastly array of human and semi-human bones.”

The Rats in the Walls is a 1923 horror story first published in a pulp magazine aptly named Weird Tales because this 22-page account can only be described as a weird tale. It’s the kind of thing I would imagine could engross a young teen. Being new to Lovecraft myself, I liked the writing and the foreboding woven throughout the story, and it was good to sample an author who influenced modern horror writers.

It begins when the last surviving member of the Delapore family purchased and restored his ancestral home, Exham Priory, in England. So sinister was its history filled with tales of murder and superstitions that the local villagers “had an almost unbelievable fear and hatred for the place.”

A friend of Delapore’s, Capt. Edward Norrys, collected details about the family and of the home from the villagers on his behalf, since villagers feared to speak to a Delapore. Claims were made that Exham Priory had been built upon a prehistoric temple’s ruins in an age when Stonehenge “must have been contemporary.” These “fireside tales were of the most grisly descriptions.”

With this knowledge Delapore took possession of his new residence, and within a few days, he found his sleep disturbed by strange dreams and noises coming from within the walls. His beloved cat, who slept in his bedchamber, became overly anxious about the walls in the night hours. These plaguing accounts progress to a point that Delapore could no longer deny something uncanny was happening, though the house servants denied seeing or hearing anything out of sorts.

Delapore entreated his friend, Norrys, to help him explore a sub-cellar of the priory. What they found there, in a deeper vault with curious carvings that was pre-Roman, prompted them to “gather a group of archaeologists and scientific men fit to cope with the mystery.”

From here out the story plays up the monstrosity of the macabre evidence found in the underground city. The ending was more sinister than I anticipated. And the rats were not the scary part.

After reading The Rats in the Walls, I can understand how the imaginings of this author provided an early diet for twentieth century would-be horror authors. Lovecraft’s influence reached other media such as music (heavy metal and psychedelic rock) and gaming.

Profile Image for Peter.
2,494 reviews450 followers
June 25, 2019
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 find the things that go bump in the night... Absolutely recommended!
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,115 reviews3,547 followers
November 5, 2018
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!

Profile Image for Zain.
1,332 reviews128 followers
October 4, 2021
Yep! Lovecraft!

Which means I expected more horror. This one is not as horrible as I would wish.

A man of the British de Le Poer barony, leaves America to return to England, the land of his ancestors.

Having left England in disgrace, Walter Delapore takes up residence in Virginia. His grandson returns to renovate the ancestral Exham Priory.

Despite the raw fear and hatred of the people in this village for his family, Delapore moves in with his pets and servants.

Things go as you would expect.

Maybe I had higher expectations for this one, being it is written by Lovecraft. Or maybe I don’t see rats as being so scary.

Anyway, it was a good distraction.
Profile Image for Eddie B..
585 reviews2,490 followers
February 26, 2019
بعد توقف دام أكثر من عامٍ ربما أعود لإنهاء ترجمة هذه التحفة الشنيعة من عيون أدب الرعب. الرعب الحقيقي الفلسفي الذي يمس المطلع عليه فعلًا بشيء من الجنون الذي لا ينمحي. هذه ترجمة كاملة ولا أستطيع أن أجعل من نفسي حكمًا على جودتها لكنني فعلًا فخور بكل ما بذلته من جهد لأخرجها بتلك الصورة. تمت الترجمة وبقي أن تُقرَأ، وأن تُرعِب.

أحمد الديب
يناير 2019
Profile Image for Mir.
4,842 reviews5,003 followers
June 12, 2020

This is more overtly horror than most of Lovecraft's stories. There's nothing "ineffable" and no one is too delicate to say what horrors they have seen.

Also, it's Lovecraft, so if you have the misfortune of bad ancestors you're basically doomed.
Profile Image for Maliha Tabassum Tisha.
130 reviews311 followers
January 19, 2021
“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.”
Profile Image for Semjon.
633 reviews324 followers
October 25, 2019
Das Grauen an sich ist in dieser Kurzgeschichte in Ordnung. Ratten lösen auch bei mir einen Ekel aus. Lovecraft spart auch nicht an der Menge und lässt gleich ganze Horden ihr Unheil anrichten. Die Erzählung beginnt sehr harmlos als Familienchronik, geht dann über in eine Traumsequenz vom zu erwartenden Schrecken und als die Expedition beginnt, sind schon zwei Drittel der Geschichte vorüber. Dann trägt Lovecraft dick auf und beschreibt die gruseligen Szene wortgewaltig, fast etwas überdreht und billig. Wenn ich es nicht besser gewusst hätte, hätte ich vermutet, dass dies ein billiger Groschenheftroman mit John Sinclair in der Hauptrolle ist.

Was mir nicht gefällt, ist die Missachtung des „Show, don‘t tell“-Grundsatz. Lovecraft legt dem Ich-Erzähler alle Gefühlsregung in den Mund. „Ich schauderte, er ängstigte sich etc“. Für mich bleibt da immer eine Distanz zu dem Beschriebenen. Gerade wenn ich E.A. Poe im Vergleich sehe, fällt mir dies auf. „Während die Ratten in den Gemäuern kratzen, stellte ich mir vor, wie sie mir über den Körper liegen, in meine Hosenbeine krochen und ihre Schwänze in meine Nasenlöcher steckten.“ Das wäre zum Beispiel ein Poe-Satz. Und bei Lovecraft: „Ich ekelte mich vor den Ratten“. Atmosphärisch bin ich da etwas enttäuscht, auch wenn das Ende dann wieder halbwegs versöhnlich stimmt. Insgesamt eher eine durchschnittliche Kurzgeschichte. Mit Lovecraft bin ich noch nicht richtig warm geworden.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,875 reviews3,382 followers
October 31, 2022
The story of how I came to read what supposedly is one of Lovecraft's best known short stories is a funny one. If by funny you mean creepy and slightly embarrassing.
You see, last night, after coming home from an afternoon in the bookstore and its' café, I sat on my couch posting stuff here and getting my October books ready. As is traditional for me, I mostly read horror stories in Spooktober. Anyway, while I was loading audiobooks onto my phone, I suddenly heard a noise (quite loud) in the house. To be precise: in the walls.
I knew what it was: our house is an old one and we have a large though not very high attic (meaning we're not going up there often) with lots of wooden beams. So every autumn/winter, we have "guests" staying until it gets warmer again: mice. One family member even swears that once it must have been a marten or at the very least a rat judging by the noise level (I think she was exaggerating). And yes, once a mouse even made it into the house itself after my father left the front door open for ages (it was swiftly dealt with though).
This, yesterday, wasn't one in the actual house. I don't think. My best guess is that they've begun nesting again. I mean, I get it, with rent and energy prices not just climbing but skyrocketing, who wouldn't want to share a spaceous and nicely warm place to conserve costs?! My problem is them gnawing on shit, potentially spreading a certain rodent virus and - most annoying of all - making a ruckus when I want to sleep!

Why am I telling you all this? Because a certain buddy-reader wingman jester started cackling when he found out about me almost jumping out of my skin from the noise (no TV, radio or audiobook was on at the time) and he therefore made me read this short story first thing this Spooktober.

So here we are. I'm not only getting harrassed by animals Disney swore to me were cute and helpful when really they are not, but by a fellow bibliophile too!

This is all one hell of a long way to tell you that I get the MC in this short story. Having something gnaw and scratch in the walls is fucking annoying! I can only imagine how much worse it must be after you spend the kind of money he spent to get the property and renovate it.

But seriously, what did he expect?! I mean, the entire village must have been littered with "get out" signs and people did their best to make him know he was unwelcome and should just return to good old Virginia, ancestral home be damned. Which it actually is. Kinda. Depending on whom you're asking (believing). Doesn't matter now, I guess. Not after . Oh well.


Still don't know what to do about the things in MY walls though. Alas.

You can read the story for free here: https://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/...
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,928 reviews1,168 followers
March 27, 2016
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 strongly recommend it to lovers of Gothic horror.
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews207 followers
May 23, 2017
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...

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
October 1, 2022
The elephant in the room: the cat’s name. We can see it and decry it and be done with it. We all know Lovecraft was a racist.

HOWEVER, DAMN, this short story is AWESOME. Re-reads often are. The slow build-up of normal, of vast amounts of personal history so quickly laid down, of the banal and the hope and the tragedies… and then the hint that things would go so wrong.

Muahahahahaha, what a classic.

“But I was not far behind, for there was no doubt after another second. It was the eldritch scurrying of those fiend-born rats, always questing for new horrors, and determined to lead me on even unto those grinning caverns of earth’s centre where Nyarlathotep, the mad faceless god, howls blindly to the piping of two amorphous idiot flute-players.”

*mad, gibbering terror*

A perfect start to spooktober. :)
Profile Image for Ahmad Sakr.
352 reviews315 followers
July 20, 2019
أول عمل أقرأه للافكرافت.. رعب من النوع الفاخر حقًا.. يستحق الوصف المشهور عندما يعجبنا عمل ما.. وصف السهل الممتنع.. ربما تشعر ان التسلسل بسيط.. ولكن حينما يسري القلق في أعماقك ويبدأ الأدرينالين يرتفع في دمك ستعلم إلى أي حد كان هذا النص سهلا على الكاتب ولكن ممتنع عن أي أحد آخر.. يبدو ان لافكرفت عبقري حقيقي في أدب الرعب ويبدو أن هذا اللقاء لن يكون الأخير لي معه..
لا ننسى بالطبع شكر المترجم القدير الأستاذ أحمد الديب.. الذي يشعرك عند قراءة القصة أن نصها الأصلي مكتوب باللغة العربية.. ترجمة سلسة وقوية وجذلة.. وشكر آخر له على اهداءه نسخة لي لأقرأها لن انسى له هذا الفضل وهذه الثقة على غير سابق معرفة :)
Profile Image for Simon Watts.
Author 3 books12 followers
February 19, 2015

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 reason I don't connect with him much as a reader. I love Lovecraft inspired fiction and art, but the man himself rarely does it for me. That being said, I really enjoyed The Rats in the Walls.

It's too short for me to discuss in depth without spoiling anything, but if you've got 15 minutes give this one a read. The reveal is, as usual, fascinating, but under developed. There are no satisfying answers here, but by god, THE IMPLICATIONS!!

Also if you're easily offended, the true hero of the story is a black cat named Nigger-man, who was named after Lovecraft's real life cat. The man had his issues....

EDIT: For more about Lovecraft, check out this great documentary featuring interviews with Del Toro and Neil Gaiman.


I think it paints a fair picture of a very troubled man.
Profile Image for Paul (Life In The Slow Lane).
602 reviews30 followers
May 23, 2017
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 Nigger-Man, but maybe racist names were accepted back then. Doesn't mean he had to use one though.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews214 followers
May 15, 2015
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.'
Unfortunately, that letter was lost in a fire so neither the narrator nor his father found out what's in it. One of his ancestors Walter de la Poer, the eleventh baron Exham, fled to America after he killed members of his family. The fact that 'this deliberate slaughter, which included a father, three brothers, and two sisters, was largely condoned by the villagers' should have told him something.

After he starts living in Exham Priory, he starts hearing strange noises in the walls and having disturbing dreams.

I should have expected that ending, but somehow it surprised me.
Profile Image for Brian .
414 reviews5 followers
July 10, 2017
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."
Profile Image for Sauerkirsche.
368 reviews61 followers
October 30, 2019
3,5 Sterne

Ein typischer, angenehm gruseliger Lovecraft. Wie so oft bedient sich Lovecraft der Urängste des Menschen und lässt seinen Protagonisten am Ende psychisch zerüttet zurück.
Stilistisch ist Lovecraft zwar etwas ungeschickt, aber für mich trotzdem immer wieder ein schöner Grusel.
Profile Image for Tanja Berg.
1,833 reviews410 followers
October 17, 2022
Just as creepy as I remembered! I listened to this as radio theater, so there are plenty of sound effects and a complete cast of characters. This I found a little distracting from the story. A group of scientists and paranormal people are gathered at a castle to investigate strange sounds in the walls. They find more than they bargained for, of course.
Profile Image for Troy.
47 reviews10 followers
June 15, 2017
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 staples, from nightmarish monstrosities and psychological horror, to pagan rites and ancestry tainted with reproach. The locale itself, Exham Priory, is as much a character as our protagonist, with its rich storied history, and its mysteries held tightly within its ancient depths. A well paced, atmospheric and visually engaging story that builds to a wildly shocking, jaw dropping finale.

Some of my enjoyment for the story waned from the blatant racial remarks throughout the tale. But otherwise, an excellent example of Lovecraft's knack for the weird and fantastical.

Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews857 followers
January 19, 2012
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 gently rose that impious, insidious scurrying; gently rising, rising, as a stiff bloated corpse gently rises above an oily river that flows under the endless onyx bridges to a black, putrid sea."

Profile Image for José Cruz Parker.
214 reviews35 followers
March 11, 2021
In The Rats in the Walls, Lovecraft outdoes Edgar Allan Poe. In fact, the story contains a tribute to the latter, for the narrator is a descendant of one Walter De la Poer (obviously, the name's an amalgam of Edgar Poe and Walter de la Mare).

The author's deep interest in race, history, and degenerate practices come into play in this short story. It addresses the same subject matter of an earlier text called Facts concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and his Family. On the other hand, the ending of The Rats in the Walls will remind Lovecraft fans of another great story: The Shadow over Innsmouth.

Profile Image for JL Shioshita.
249 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2017
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.
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