Sexually Charged Haunts: A Look at Hell House and The Long Shadows of October

Reviews of Hell House by Richard Matheson and The Long Shadows of October by Kristopher Triana

Perhaps it’s because I recently read the book and watched the film version of Hell House that I drew so many comparisons to The Long Shadows of October, but nevertheless, here we are.

The premise of Hell House is simple – Rolf Rudolph Deutsch wants proof that there is life after death and sends a small group of experts into the Mount Everest of haunted houses – the Belasco House. They are given unlimited funds and a week in which to prove that ghosts do, in fact, exist. Dr. Barrett, a physicist, and his wife, Edith, are joined by two mediums, Florence Tanner and Benjamin Fischer. Benjamin is the only living, sane survivor from a past investigation of the Belasco House. The book follows them on their week through hell as they attempt to communicate with Belasco.

Hell House has it all – ghosts, possessions, a weird sex cult, a “Bastard Bog” where unwanted children of the sex cult were drowned, a chapel – complete with one giant-sized Jesus with an erection, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

For the most part, I enjoyed Hell House up until the very end. The great reveal felt extraordinarily weak and didn’t make a whole lot of sense; Especially given all of the history and deviance of the Belasco house that we were privy to. It brought the overall enjoyment of the book down a bit for me.

Likewise, the premise of The Long Shadows of October is simple – Joe Grant and Danny Knox are looking for some quick cash so that they can get Joe’s little brother, Robbie, laid. When the opportunity to housesit Snowden Manor for $500 a week falls into their laps, they jump at the chance. Old Mrs. Snowden even tells them they can have friends over, just so long as they stay at the house as much as possible over the two weeks that she’ll be gone. Things start getting weird the first night the guys invite girls over – Maxine, Danny’s girlfriend, and Kayla, Joe’s new girl. It’s almost as if the house wants the girls out of it.

While The Long Shadows of October has some similar elements to Hell House – ghosts, possessions, and sex; It also brings a host of well-formed elements that make sense to the story – wraiths, witchcraft, sex magic, and a succubus. All of which build a cohesive story that leads to a thrilling conclusion.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Shadows of October. It’s a solid haunted house story with enough of an edge to separate it and elevate it over others in the genre. I’ve seen it faulted for its lack of character development, but here’s the thing – it’s not really a story about the characters, it’s a story about the house and what’s in it. The one character who needs to be strong and well-rounded is and the others are exactly what they need to be.

If you’re looking for a sexually charged haunted house novel or looking for a little ghost-on-human sex, look no further than these two novels. While both are strong contenders, The Long Shadows of October comes out ahead for me.

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