Monday, October 10, 2016
"The Rats in the Walls" (a book review post)
But I digress.
The problem with Lovecraft's story, "The Rats in the Walls," has nothing to do with lying awake and listening to rodents in your house, something I'm sure many people have experienced. The problem with the story is that it has a rather tremendous buildup that drags on and on, which is saying something for a story that's less than 8000 words, that, then, left me with the feeling of "that's all?" To say the least, I was unimpressed with where the story went.
Maybe if the story didn't follow so many of Lovecraft's normal conventions of storytelling, I would have ended up in a different place by the end of it, but it's stereotypically stereotypical Lovecraft. A man goes home to visit his ancestral home to find out there is some deep, dark family secret he knows nothing about. Of course, he is the last of his line, so he has no way of discovering the secret but, whatever it is, it has caused his family to be reviled in the place of their origin.
He sets about restoring his family home, which has fallen into ruin since his family abandoned it to escape their legacy in the new world. Once the restoration is complete and he begins living there, he begins to hear rats in the walls at night. The problem? The walls are stone. Solid stone.
But the cats in "castle" also hear the rats, and it drives them into a frenzy every night. Delapore is the only human who seems to hear the rats, though, so everyone else (the servants) are confounded by the actions of the cats.
Eventually, all of this leads to finding an underground cavern (spoiler alert!) where his family used to raise humans in pens for eating. In his horror at finding this out, Delapore immediately falls upon one of his companions and begins eating him, something Delapore can't remember after the fact.
At any rate, the reveal was not worth the build up, and the sudden cannibalism by the main character was not really believable. Not that it was less believable than a lot of Lovecraft's contrivances, but the blackout suffered by the character made it something too removed to be believed. Plus, the rats scurrying in the walls just wasn't creepy enough to make the story horrifying. Not a Lovecraft story I would recommend.