The Shunned House falls into the supernatural and folk genres. It is a horror fiction novelette by American author H. P. Lovecraft, written in October 1924 and first published in the October 1937 issue of Weird Tales.
Lovecraft links, at the story’s beginning, the tale to his idol Edgar Allan Poe. The unnamed narrator finds it ironic that during Edgar Allan Poe’s Providence sojourn, the master of the macabre many times passed a certain house on Benefit Street without recognizing the site of real horrors.
The Shunned House is a house on Benefit Street where a large number of people passed away. With 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 suspected anything supernatural was going on.
However, the narrator’s uncle, physician and antiquarian Elihu Whipple, has a shivery fascination for the house. The house was built in 1763 by William Harris. Shortly after the Harrises moved in, his wife Rhoby delivered a stillborn son. For the next 150 years, no child would be born alive in the house. Once the narrator learns of his uncle’s suspicions, they decide to investigate the house.
The story’s narrator suspects that the family is connected to Jacques Roulet of Caude, who was condemned to death for lycanthropy in 1598 before being confined to an asylum.
Jacques Roulet was a real person, whom Lovecraft had read about in John Fiske’s Myths and Myth-Makers. “The family of Roulet had possessed an abnormal affinity for outer circles of entity—dark spheres which for normal folk hold only repulsion and terror.”
The Shunned House of the title is based on an actual house in Providence, Rhode Island, still standing at 135 Benefit Street and the novelette carries the perfect Halloween mood.
The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft.
Reviewer bio: Claudia Gollini is a makeup artist, fashion/beauty blogger and journalist, editor and writer, and body painter of events and TV shows.