Review: The House That Death Built by John LLewellyn Probert

The Dark Manor isn’t just any old haunted house. Built on the site of a stone circle, from bricks saturated with pain and agony, windows that have seen terror beyond insanity, and doors that would scream if the wood from which they were fashioned could voice the appalling acts to which they have been witness, the house was designed with evil in mind and deliberately constructed to bring William Marx, the wealthy industrialist who built it, into contact with the spirit world.But Marx hasn’t been seen since he entered the repository of death and madness that is The Dark Manor, and neither have any of the people who have gone looking for him. Now Sir Anthony Calverton has purchased it and needs the place investigating properly, which of course calls for some proper supernatural investigators.You are cordially invited to join Mr Massene Henderson and Miss Samantha Jephcott, specialists in paranormal adventure, as they embark on their most perilous case to date.Who will survive The House That Death Built?Only time and the pages within will tell…

One of the things I love about the  horror genre, is the range of styles that the genre can take.  You can go from the dark, and bleak writing of someone like Gary McMahon, to the gross out to the maximum of someone like Ed Lee, and still have space in the genre for someone like John L. Probert.  In fact those in power in the dark recess of the genre, should buy Mr. Probert his very own Gothic mansion.

  The House That Death Built  is perhaps one of the most  joyous reads I have had in a long time, in fact the last time I had so much fun reading a horror story was with John’s The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine.  John has a very special gift when it comes to writing, he can take a well worn trope such as a haunted house, and turn it into a gloriously cinematic escapade.  This is the sort of book, that feels as though it comes with its own special effects sound track.  Read this book and you’ll hear lightening crash to the ground as rusty doors creak open with gleeful terrorising intent. This book captivated me completely.  I became fully immersed in the story’s plot and cast of wonderful characters, from the curmudgeonly Sir Anthony Calverton, who calls our heroes in to investigate, even the subsidiary characters such as the old woman that out heroes encounter at the recording of  “psychic” Jeremy Stokes, are given a life and more importantly a voice of there own.  

And this brings us to the the main protagonists, of Mr Henderson, and and Miss Samantha Jephcott, and boy O’ boy are these a right pair of characters. I loved these two characters, the way interacted with each other and the other characters of the book was pitch perfect. Henderson’s detached, and almost aloof disregard to the thoughts and feelings of everyone around him is a joy to read.  This is a man to whom the mystery is the only thing that is important.  While Miss Jephcott’s glib and sarcastic way at looking at the world especially  when she is staring down the jaws of death, gives the book a heart.  However, it is when these two characters are interacting together that the book really comes alive. It is these interactions that gives the narrative some hilarious, yet subtle comedic moments.  They never undermine the narrative, they just capture perfectly that unique sense of British humour that rises to the surface when ever we are faced with an over welling sense of adversity. Henderson and Jephcott are a double act of the highest order.  

The House That Death Built, reminds me of why I love  horror.  A dashing hero, a sensitive side kick, ghouls, ghosts, and dark stirrings from the nether regions, combining with a writing who has a flair for theatrical horror, all adds up to one of the best books I have read this year. If there are any film makers out there reading this then put down that tired and scabby script, pick up the phone and get in contact with Mr Probert, this book is screaming out like a Banshee to be made into a film.

I’m not sure if any of the limited hardback versions of this book are left, this is the version I went for and it is a lovely piece of work.  You can check stock levels and then go and buy one from Atomic Fez , you can also buy a trade paperback and ebook version from them.

Otherwise head on over to Amazon by clicking the link below and get a copy.  Please believe me when I say you need to read this book!!!

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