Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Shunned House

Rate this book
In my childhood the shunned house was vacant, with barren, gnarled and terrible old trees, long, queerly pale grass and nightmarishly misshapen weeds in the high terraced yard where birds never lingered. We boys used to overrun the place, and I can still recall my youthful terror not only at the morbid strangeness of this sinister vegetation, but at the eldritch atmosphere and odor of the dilapidated house, whose unlocked front door was often entered in quest of shudders.

48 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1937

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

H.P. Lovecraft

3,999 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.


Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
902 (17%)
4 stars
1,701 (32%)
3 stars
1,921 (37%)
2 stars
553 (10%)
1 star
101 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 453 reviews
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.3k followers
April 10, 2020

Written in October of 1924, "The Shunned House" is not only Lovecraft's best early novella but also one of the two watershed works which mark his transition to the themes and style of his mature period. As such, it is not only a pleasure to read but also an important work for anyone who is interested in the development of H.P. Lovecraft the writer.

It was written during the early period of his marriage, when Lovecraft and his wife were living in Brooklyn and he had already become uneasy--but not fearful, as he would later become in Red Hook--of the dark faces and diverse cultures found near the great city of New York. It seems he may have been homesick for Rhode Island too, for--although the plot of this tale was first inspired by another house in Elizabeth, New Jersey--he chose to locate it in a house (once lived in by his aunt) located in the familiar streets of Providence.

The shunned house of the title has long been an object of fascination for the narrator, a fascination he shares with his uncle, Dr. Elihu Whipple. The narrator summarizes the strange lore the good doctor has collected about the house, lore filled with unexplained sicknesses and deaths, and follows this with his personal account of what happened when he and his uncle ventured inside the old house.

The story is memorable not only because of our investigators' use of an electrical device to dispel supernatural phenomena (common in other weird stories of the period, but not common in Lovecraft) but also because of the artful accumulation of precise details (the white phosphorescence, the foul odor, the yellow mist, the outline of a figure on a wall). What sticks in the mind more than these, however, are the nostalgia for the familiar streets of Providence and how it contrasts with the utter alien nature of the thing discovered within the house.

It is the the union of these two--a profound sense of place, and the fear of the alien other which disrupts it--which will be the key to the terror evoked by the great Lovecraft tales to come.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book834 followers
June 5, 2020
This novelette was written by the young H.P. Lovecraft around the same time as The Rats in the Walls (1924), and published, likewise, in an issue of Weird Tales. There is a significant similarity of inspiration between these two tales: here too, there is a decrepit old house, foul smells, obscene fungous growths suffocating the foundations, unknown dangers lurking in putrid shadows, chillings myths.

Whereas The Rats was probably inspired by Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher, The Shunned House, mainly through the fate of the narrator’s uncle, is redolent of The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. Lovecraft’s writing, at this stage, is festooned with horrifying descriptions and epithets. The plot is quite secondary. But one distinctive technique, borrowed from Poe, which Lovecraft will further develop in subsequent tales, is the deft mixing of real history with wholly made up pieces of fiction, which confers his stories a disturbing sense of verisimilitude.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,115 reviews3,547 followers
November 5, 2018
Welcome to the Shunned House!


135 Benefit Street. Providence, Rhode Island. It’s a real house that you can find even nowdays (2017) at the said address, and it’s the scenario of this really spooky tale, that H.P. Lovecraft knew well since his aunt lived there for a while.

However, while he chose this real house for the scenario, it was another real house at Elizabeth, New Jersey, the inspiration for the narrative.

A man and his uncle, are doing a paranormal research of a house with a very long history of unexplained deaths and illness for the unlucky inhabitants of that house.

The “shunned house” presents weird weeds in the yard, yellow vapors in the basement, phosphorescent fungi in the cellar and a foul smell around everywhere in the property.

After doing all the paperwork about the incidents,...

...they are left with no other path than actually go there and pass the night over there.


...terrible mistake!!!

Profile Image for Peter.
2,494 reviews451 followers
June 27, 2019
In this story you will do some research together with the first person narrator why the dilapidated house in Benefit Street is shunned and regarded as uncanny. You will hear everything about the families who lived there, come to know, that Poe walked by this house and in the second section of this longer story you will stay at night in this scary building. What is the reason behind the inexplicable death of relatively many people? Why did they wither away at that place? You learn about the earliest inhabitants the French family of the Roulets and you'll see a strange shimmering fungus growing from the cellar throughout the whole house... Classic Lovecraft, a very compelling and well crafted story full of mystery and suspense. Absolutely recommended!
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,341 reviews115 followers
August 6, 2022
This is hard book to review, it was basically the history of one house that was deemed to be haunted. It's only 48 pages long so it's a quick book to read and what I would describe as quiet horror, more about the atmosphere than anything else.

My first Lovecraft as I wasn't blown away. If you listen to the Books in the Freezer podcast you know what I mean when I describe this book as room temperature.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,209 followers
April 25, 2018
Not Lovecraft's best and probably mostly of interest to fans only, but still, this early work contains some nuggets of the delicious fright-writing he would become known for. By the end of The Shunned House I was riveted to the narrative. Lovecraft rewards those with the patience to stick with the first two-thirds of this novella with a gloriously grotesque description of a wonderfully heinous creature. The writing remains distant and analytical, but by now we're in it to win it with our hero and hope for the best. After all, so very many people have succumbed to the shunned house, might he be one, too?
Profile Image for Semjon.
633 reviews324 followers
May 4, 2020
Eine ziemliche narzisstisch und pedantische Erzählung, bei der einem das gerade erst gewonnene Gefallen an Lovecraft wieder vergehen kann. Es beginnt mit einem sehr seltsamen Hinweis, dass der Kollege E.A. Poe an dem gemiedenen Haus für eine zeitlang immer entlanglief, ohne den Schrecken zu erkennen.

Doch was wären Hausgeister ohne den guten HPL. Sie blieben unentdeckt, unerwähnt und würden arbeitslos vereinsamen. Doch der Journalist Lovecraft zeigt uns, was eine anständige Recherche ist und so liest man bis zu Hälfte der Erzählung eine detaillierte Chronologie, wer, wie und wann in dem Haus in Providence seit 1750 gelebt und gelitten hat und wer darin verstarb. Bei so viel aufgezählter Wahrhaftigkeit muss am Spuk in Benefit Street ja etwas dran sein.

Also macht sich unser Held HLP mit Onkel auf Erkundungstour in das leerstehende Haus. Der Rest bleibt namenloses Schrecken und am Ende die Chemiekeule gegen die Mächte der Unterwelt. Kann man sich sparen.
Profile Image for Alex.
145 reviews30 followers
August 10, 2020
Pretty much a small haunted house mystery that is short and not boring. Its not very interesting either. The narrator and his uncle are obsessed by an old abandoned house at Benefit Street where many mysterious incidents and violent tragic deaths have taken place. The narrator's uncle has collected information from various sources and as the narrator goes through them he is also fascinated by it. They set out to go to the house and stay in the cellar (which seems to be the most terrifying place and the source of all the misery) of the house. What awaits for them is something they never expected.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Its kind of creepy when the history of the house is narrated. But what happens later is so different from what I expected and kind of killed the story for me.
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,361 reviews352 followers
December 31, 2018
Errrr ... yep okay this one is weird.

At first it just seemed like another eerie, atmospheric tale about a spooky old house, but then there was the conjecture about what was causing this house to be so evil and ... well, let's just say that it won me over in the end.

It took its time getting to the fun stuff, for a short story, but it was totally worth it in the end.

I don't feel like it's particularly groundbreaking, but it certainly ended on a unique note.

My first Lovecraft story, but certainly not my last!
Profile Image for Steffi.
948 reviews195 followers
May 4, 2020
Diese Erzählung hat mich weit weniger verärgert als Die Farbe aus dem All. Dass sie gut ist, kann ich dennoch nicht sagen.

Zwar sind die Hinweise auf die Unbeschreibbarkeit des Grauens hier nur vereinzelt zu finden, doch bin ich bei HPL so dafür sensibilisiert, dass mir diese Stellen gleich ins Auge springen:

was unsäglich abscheulich ist / all that is unutterably hideous

das jeder Beschreibung spottete / whose essence eludes all description

Es war erschreckend jenseits aller Vorstellungskraft / It was frightful beyond conception

Ich habe ganz bewusst auch das englische Original geprüft, um nicht einer eventuell verfälschenden Übersetzung zum Opfer zu fallen.

Und auch hier macht HPL den Fehler, den man von ihm kennt. Mag er an der einen Stelle nichts sagen können, quatscht er an anderer Stelle viel zu viel. Liegt die Würze einer Horrorgeschichte doch oft in ihrer Kürze, weil sich Schrecken selten sehr lange aufrecht erhalten lässt (man gewöhnt sich halt an alles), so überstrapaziert er die Geduld des Lesers mit einer überlangen, personenreichen Geschichte des Hauses. Spannung kommt so keine auf. Spannender waren dagegen die Dokumente/Fotos des Hauses, die man im Internet recherchieren kann.

Als der Erzähler und sein Onkel sich dann endlich aufmachen, dem Unwesen ein Ende zu bereiten, löst der Spuk bei mir nur noch Amüsement aus. Das ist allenfalls so gruselig wie der Film Ghostbusters.

Und dieser Mann wollte anderen erzählen, was wirklich supernatural horror ist. Da kann man nur staunen.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,988 reviews15 followers
October 9, 2015

Read Here

A month of Halloween 2015 reads:

#1: 3* Nobody True by James Herbert: fraudio
#2: 4* The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard: fraudio
#3: 1* Brain Child by John Saul: fraudio
#4: 3* Domain (Rats #3) by James Herbert: fraudio
#5: 3* The Mourning Vessels by Peter Luther: paperback
#6: 2* The Doom of the Great City: ebook
#7: 5* Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury: fraudio
#8: 5* The Dead Zone by Stephen King: fraudio
#9: CR The Chalice: hardback
#10: WL Seven Gothic Tales
#11: 4* Tales of Men and Ghosts: gutenberg
#12: 2* Shattered by Dean Koontz: fraudio
#13: 5* The Dunwich Horror: gutenberg
#14: TR Death At Intervals: paperback
#15: 3* Alone: gutenberg
#16: 3* The Shunned House: gutenberg
#17: 4* The Thing on the Doorstep
#18: 2* Shadows by Saul: fraudio
#19: CR Precious Cargo: paperback
#20: 2* The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: ebook
#21: 2* The Book of Black Magic
#22: 4* Beyond the Wall of Sleep
#23: CR The Haunting of Hill House

Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews214 followers
May 17, 2015
The Shunned House is a story of centuries old curse hanging over the house at 135 Benefit Street, Providence. Something horrible happened in the late 1600s and since then no child has ever been born in the house.
The narrator tells a story of his childhood curiosity that later became almost an obsession. He researched the history of the house and even though he wasn't a superstitious man, he came to believe that there are certain things in this world that can't be easily explained.
Profile Image for Antonella  M..
906 reviews80 followers
February 6, 2020
Più che un horror lo definirei un paranormal. Potrebbe essere che per l'epoca potesse essere già terrificante, ma onestamente, pensando ad alcuni racconti di Poe che turbarono la mia adolescenza, c'era già chi aveva un'immaginazione più fervida e votata all'horror.
La prosa è scorrevole per essere un classico, l'ambientazione gotica rende e lo consiglio a chi voglia cimentarsi in altro genere, ma più di una casa infestata da spiriti dal nome impronunciabile, non troverete altro. Forse la differenza è che non troverete rumori di catene, strani versi e passi nella notte, ma più che altro un’atmosfera marcescente e un senso di inquietudine crescente, presenze demoniache, esalazioni mefitiche, fluorescenze alternate a tenebre.
La cosa che balza all'occhio è la conoscenza approfondita dell'autore sull'occulto, la stregoneria, il paranormale, l'esoterismo. Mi ha lasciato l'amaro in bocca il finale, molto frettoloso.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,524 reviews149 followers
May 4, 2020
Auch bei dieser kurzen Story ist es mir nicht gelungen, die Qualität von HPLs Geschichten für mich zu entdecken. Die Erwartungen waren recht hoch, weil S.T. Joshi in seiner großen HPL=Bio gerade THE SHUNNED HOUSE als eine besonders gelungene frühe Erzählung nennt. Gemessen daran, dass die Story nur 40 Seiten lang ist, war ich überrascht, wie lang mir ein so kurzer Text vorkommen kann. Nach einem wirklich ermüdenden historischen Abriss über Geschichte und Bewohner des Spukhauses in Providence, der auch stark gekürzt noch zu lang gewesen wäre, folgt dann die Konfrontation mit dem Spuk, die weder in Sachen Überraschung noch Spannung überzeugt. Gruselig fand ich eher, dass HPL gleich zu Beginn der Geschichte den Begriff der Ironie ins Feld führt, indem er sich über seinen großen Kollegen E.A. Poe erhebt, der als verliebter Tropf das Potenzial des Spukhauses nicht erkannt habe.
July 10, 2017
This is my first read by Lovecraft, and I can now say it certainly will not be my last. I realise it's just a short story, but it is the only Lovecraft work, I could physically get my hands on at this moment.
The style of his writing is most exquisite, although, I didn't think the actual plot flowed as easy as it should have.

"There are horrors beyond horrors, and this was one of those nuclei of all dreamable hideousness which the cosmos saves to blast an accursed and unhappy few"

The author has an intricate attention to horrific detail, and the reader is kept in suspense until nearing the end of the book.

Profile Image for Sorairo.
886 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2015
Favoloso!!!! La casa stregata ha fatto venire la pelle d'oca anche a me ed è favoloso l'approccio razionale alle vicende "occulte".
Affascinante anche la vita di questo autore, uomo "tutto d'un pezzo".
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews857 followers
January 24, 2012
Daemons and houses a concoction for a tale of terror from thee master Lovecraft.

"We boys used to overrun the place, and I can still recall my youthful terror not only at the morbid strangeness of sinister vegetation, but at the eldritch atmosphere and odour of the dilapidated house, whose unlocked front door was often entered in quest of shudders. The small-paned windows were largely broken, and a nameless air of desolation hung round the precarious panelling, shaky interior shutters, peeling wallpaper, falling plaster, rickety staircases, and such fragments of battered furniture as still remained. The
dust and cobwebs added their touch of the fearful;and brave indeed was the boy who would voluntarily ascend the ladder to the attic, a vast raftered length lighted only by small blinking windows in the gable ends, and filled with a massed wreckage of chests, chairs, and spinning-wheels which infi-
nite years of deposit had shrouded and festooned into monstrous and hellish shapes."

"He was at once a devil and a multitude, a charnel-house and a pageant. Lit by the mixed and uncertain beams, that gelatinous face assumed a dozen - a score - a hundred- aspects; grinning, as it sank to the
ground on a body that melted like tallow, in the caricatured likeness of legions strange and yet not strange."

Wikipedia had this on his inspiration in writing this.

The Shunned House of the title is based on an actual house in Providence, Rhode Island, built around 1763 and still standing at 135 Benefit Street; Lovecraft was familiar with the house because his aunt, Lillian Clark, lived there in 1919-20 as a companion to Mrs. H. C. Babbit.

But it was another house in Elizabeth, New Jersey that actually provoked Lovecraft to write the story. As he wrote in a letter:

On the northeast corner of Bridge Street and Elizabeth Avenue is a terrible old house — a hellish place where night-black deeds must have been done in the early seventeen-hundreds — with a blackish unpainted surface, unnaturally steep roof, and an outside flight of stairs leading to the second story, suffocatingly embowered in a tangle of ivy so dense that one cannot but imagine it accursed or corpse-fed. It reminded me of the Babbit House in Benefit Street.... Later its image came up again with renewed vividness, finally causing me to write a new horror story with its scene in Providence and with the Babbit House as its basis.

It is interesting to note that this location is, at least at present, the site of a plaza named in honor of Winfield Scott, who was also the namesake of Lovecraft's own father.
Review also on my webpage @ more2read.
There is also a Lovecraft video interview to watch there.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,452 reviews12.8k followers
July 10, 2012
This is the story of a house that has a gothic creepiness to it and which has been around for centuries with a history of death and madness. In other words, exactly the kind of house HP Lovecraft would write about.

But this isn't Lovecraft at his best. He writes about the history of the house with boring detail, going into the lives of its occupants too much, talking ambiguously about how they died mysteriously and hinting of evil below the surface. This goes on for most of the book until the narrator goes to spend the night in the house and sees yet more ambiguous shapes and colours that of course drives him mad.

I realise Lovecraft isn't read for his writing style but it really grated on me in this book, mostly because there's usually something to latch on to to distract me from the overly verbose sentences. The awkward descriptive writing trying desperately to solicit some kind of feral emotional response in the reader shows Lovecraft's limitations as a writer especially in this early story of his and I wound up disliking this story immensely.

Lovecraft is a tremendous writer but "The Shunned House" is by no means a representation of his best work. Seek out the many, many collections of his stories and see what else he has on offer because there are many that better show his talents off.

Also there are some formatting errors with this Kindle edition, namely an autobiographical paragraph inserted in the middle of the first page and a repeated sentence highlighted in bold for some reason also inserted randomly in the first chapter.
Profile Image for Arwen56.
1,218 reviews264 followers
March 15, 2015
Questo è stato il mio primo incontro con Lovecraft, ahimè, non andato a buon fine. Avevo letto diverse positive recensioni al riguardo, sulle quali, però non mi trovo molto d’accordo. Non sono un’estimatrice del genere, e questo potrebbe obiettivamente essere un handicap, ma personalmente trovo che, almeno qui, manchi completamente la tensione narrativa, il senso di aspettativa, il crescendo emotivo, quell’indefinito senso di angoscia che ha, forse, radici nel subconscio di tutti noi e che può, certamente, nascere anche da fatti banali, ma deve essere sorretto da una narrazione abile, altrimenti diventa solo molto noioso. Invece Lovecraft usa talmente tante volte i termini “mostruoso” e “orribile” e relativi sinonimi, anche in riferimento a cose del tutto naturali, da privarli completamente del loro significato. Se tutto è orribile e mostruoso, diventa anche, in qualche modo, “normale” e non crea il necessario climax.

Di conseguenza, è ovvio, trovo anche del tutto fuor di luogo l’accostamento a Edgar Allan Poe, che nei suoi racconti riesce a condurre il lettore dentro la storia, per quanto improbabile possa essere, inducendolo a provare e sentire sulla sua pelle sensazioni di infinito disagio, anche se non vuole, anche se preferirebbe restarne fuori. C’è un abisso tra i due autori in quanto ad abilità narrativa, a mio modesto avviso.

Naturalmente, un solo libro è troppo poco per dare un giudizio generale. Può benissimo essere che Lovecraft sia stato più efficace in altre opere, che io non conosco. Gli darò un’altra chance, se mi capita.
Profile Image for Jen.
602 reviews255 followers
October 2, 2014
If you are looking for a book to read this October, The Shunned House is an excellent choice. I could not have kicked off this month any better.

"We never - even in our wildest Halloween moods - visited this cellar by night."

The Shunned House is a house on Benefit Street where a large number of people passed away. Due to the smells, the humid environment, and the amount of fungus present in the house, it was declared to simply have "unhealthy" conditions. At worst, the house was deemed "unlucky". No one (with the exception of the narrator's uncle) suspected anything supernatural was going on.

Once the narrator learned of his uncle's suspicions, they decided to investigate the house.

I really, really enjoyed The Shunned House. I could read spooky house stories all day, every day, but there were some great stand out moments that will stick with me.

If you love literary horror and you haven't read this yet, put The Shunned House on your list. It's one you will want to read. At 48 pages, it also makes a great atmospheric read for those who are just looking to up their spookiness level around Halloween.
Profile Image for Ivan.
357 reviews51 followers
July 13, 2018
Entrambi i racconti si leggono in un fiato: sono ben scritti, con un linguaggio netto, preciso, ricercato, avvincente, affabulante, come avvincente è la suspense delle storie che si dipanano; peccato il finale, un po' banalotto, per il primo racconto (La casa stregata), mentre il secondo (L'orrore di Red Hook)è a dir poco pirotecnico per le trovate etniche (i meticci, i curdi etc.)anche se non incolla alla sedia.
Profile Image for Megan.
332 reviews22 followers
July 10, 2017
I spent the majority of this story thinking "It's totally mold. They need to clean this house out."

As with most (all?) of his stories, HP Lovecraft spends so much time trying to shove your face in creepiness that there isn't really much story to speak of underneath the copious descriptions of grim grime. It's 90% build-up, 10% dissatisfying reveal and 100% description.
Profile Image for Antonella Imperiali.
1,081 reviews103 followers
October 6, 2019
1) La casa stregata
Una presenza inquietante infesta un’antica dimora di Providence. La cosa ha il potere di succhiare il sangue, l’anima e la vita o di far perdere il senno a coloro che vi dimorano. Da tempo è disabitata, ma l’essere è ancora lì, se ne avverte la presenza.
Zio e nipote sono certi di poter distruggere l’essere, e vi riusciranno, ma a caro, carissimo prezzo.

2) L’orrore di Dunwich
Un essere invisibile, pura essenza del Male, cresce a Dunwich, devastando tutto ciò che incontra sul proprio cammino, seminando terrore e morte.
Un gruppo di studiosi, grazie alla giusta interpretazione di un diario scritto dal custode del mostro, si mette sulle sue tracce e riesce, oltre che a capirne le origini, anche a distruggerlo, riportando finalmente la pace.

Sicuramente il primo racconto è il migliore tra i due, di fatto hanno molte analogie: entrambi rappresentano un lungo elenco di notizie, di dati e di eventi passati che portano alle azioni conclusive e risolutive del presente, veramente esigue rispetto al resto.

Sarà che sono stati scritti intorno agli anni ‘30 (all’epoca avranno pure suscitato qualche brivido), ma mi hanno lasciata pressoché indifferente, con solo la voglia di finire in fretta questo volumetto.

Sicuramente l’horror di Lovecraft, dichiarato dai più un Maestro, non è il genere che piace a me. Sorry!

💀 HI - GdL ott/19 (L’orrore di Dunwich)
💀 HC - task 13
🤔 RC 2019 - Esimio sconosciuto
📚 RC 2019 - Lo scaffale traboccante
Profile Image for J.S..
Author 1 book51 followers
January 27, 2020
At the time, it was to me only a seething, dimly phosphorescent cloud of fungous loathsomeness, enveloping and dissolving to an abhorrent plasticity the one object on which all my attention was focussed... with blackening and decaying features leered and gibbered at me, and reached out dripping claws to rend me in the fury which this horror had brought.

Lots of melodramatic description, but I never really felt anything beyond the mildest interest. I guess Lovecraft just isn't my thing.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,842 reviews5,003 followers
April 24, 2019
The concept of the toxic locality is interesting, the detailed history not so much.
I found the death of the poor old uncle more moving than the supposed horror itself. Although I was amused that Very practical
Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews77 followers
October 29, 2016
The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft is a novella about an actual house in Providence, Rhode Island but Lovecraft's inspiration to write the story came from another house in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The story is about a doctor and his nephew. They've been fascinated with this house because so many strange things have occurred there over the years and so many people have died or became sick after staying there. In hopes of getting to the root of the evil, they both stay overnight in the house with dire consequences...

So this story was ok. It took me a little while to get into it and use to the old style of writing. I appreciated the scientific vibe of the haunting and story the most. It made me question for a second whether this strange house and all of its happenings really existed. The ending was also pretty good. It was a little faster paced and had the most action, so to speak. The story wasn't scary though but it did have a little creepiness to it. It was a quick read and good for getting in the Halloween spirit.

*I read this for my 2016 Halloween Bingo: ~Set in New England~ square

Set in New England
Profile Image for Arybo ✨.
1,311 reviews133 followers
October 1, 2019
«Camminano non visti e immondi in luoghi solitari.»

Il libro si compone di due racconti, il primo dà il titolo alla raccolta, il secondo è quello da cui è presa la citazione qui sopra. La casa stregata si presenta come un normale racconto su una casa “infestata”, mentre L’orrore di Dunwich si focalizza su una serie di avvenimenti accaduti nel 1928 in quella zona dell’America rurale. Sia la scrittura sia lo svolgimento della trama non mi hanno convinto, mi sono trovata spesso con la mente che vagava verso altri lidi, nel mezzo di una scena clou. Da una parte i racconti sono sembrati troppo brevi (soprattutto il primo, che sembra quasi una cronaca degli eventi, con tanti nomi e date e poche descrizioni), dall’altra mi hanno annoiato in svariati punti.
Non sono mai stata attratta da Lovecraft, forse il suo genere di horror non è quello che fa per me.

Profile Image for Joseph.
459 reviews118 followers
March 17, 2020
In my weird and horror reading, H.P. Lovecraft is a cosmic black hole, conspicuous by his absence. True – I had read, a decade and a half back, an anthology of his short stories expertly curated by S.T.Joshi. I must admit, however, that I was not particularly impressed by Lovecraft’s overly dramatic and prolix style, sometimes bordering on self-parody. I have, since then, given his works a wide berth.

Lately, however, I’ve been tempted to once again dip into Lovecraft’s dark and hostile universe. Possibly the latest cataclysmic and post-apocalyptic news reports had a hand in this. I opted to start with the novelette “The Shunned House”, which I downloaded off the Gutenberg Project website.

“The Shunned House” is a relatively early work, having been written in 1924. It was also close to being the first published book by Lovecraft, with approximately 250 copies printed by W. Paul Cook for Recluse Press. As it happened, the book was never issued, and the work was published posthumously in the October 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

The story is interesting because whilst clearly indebted to the Gothic tradition, it also has some idiosyncratic elements which distinguish it as a Lovecraftian work. The plot is quite similar to many other “haunted house” tales, with some reliance on tropes of the genre and, more limitedly, reference to elements of vampire literature. The “shunned house” of the title has long lain untenanted and abandoned in a street of Providence, Rhode Island. Local legends associate it with a string of mysterious sicknesses and deaths by “wasting away”. The narrator who, as a boy, used to roam its fetid and dark rooms for a dare, develops an obsessions with the place and his history, one that he shares with his uncle, Dr Elihu Whipple “a sane, conservative physician of the old school…a bachelor, a white-haired, clean-shaven, old-fashioned gentleman, and a local historian of note”. The narrator’s research points to something horrible buried under the floor of the house’s cellar, which is infested with repellent “fungi, grotesquely like the vegetation in the yard outside…truly horrible in their outlines; detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes”. With a view to exorcising the terrible presence in the house, the narrator and his uncle spend a night in the cellar. This is, of course, always a rash course of action in a horror story, and the nocturnal sojourn, unsurprisingly, leads to a terrifying denouement.

Lovecraft’s story is a tribute to the conventional “haunted house” tale, especially in its eerie descriptions and scary backstory. There are also several nods to the Gothic genre, not least the literary conceit that this story is a realistic account of an actual occurrence involving research of existing documentation. The concept of a present cursed by the sins of the past is also quite typical of the American Gothic.

What I found particularly interesting about this story is its “scientific”, materialistic approach. Although black magic and dubious rituals seem to have given rise to the entity haunting the house, the narrator and his uncle plan to battle it not through spiritual/supernatural means but with a contraption which shoots “ether radiation” and, should that not work, two World War I flame-throwers. Eventually, it is six carboys of acid which will put the house to rest. It is also significant that the “monster” is not a ghost in the traditional sense of the word, but a being much more physical and, in some ways, more horrible.

Of course, this idea of old monsters haunting the present would loom large in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories and, in this regard, “The Shunned House” acquires particular significance. The prose also points to Lovecraft’s mature style, with its preponderance of ornate, baroque descriptions replete with adjectives and adverbs. I guess I can live with that in limited doses.

Profile Image for Graeme Rodaughan.
Author 9 books339 followers
October 17, 2022
A haunted house tale that started very, very slowly, then hooked me in with awesome suspense, and a rare 'almost,' happy-ever-after for the narrator.

5 'Spooky Eldritch Cellar Dweller,' stars.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 453 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.