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Nightmare House Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2004

78 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Harrow Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An uncharacteristic period ghost story brings the Harrow haunted house trilogy to an apprehensive conclusion or beginning. In Mischief (2000) and The Infinite (2001), Clegg dropped portentous hints of past misdeeds and occult experiments that amplified the evil influence of Harrow, a sprawling Hudson River estate turned into a boys' prep school. The events of this novel, a prequel to the previous two books, don't so much explain as anticipate Harrow's later ghostly manifestations. In 1926, Ethan Gravesend inherits the estate from his eccentric paternal grandfather, who built the mansion on supposedly cursed land. Almost immediately, he witnesses eerie apparitions that emanate from Harrow's shadowy halls and gloomy grounds. In the company of housekeeper and love interest Maggie Barrow, Ethan stumbles upon a boarded-up room and a proverbial skeleton in the family closet that serves as lodestone for the formidable supernatural forces that pulse through the dwelling. Clegg milks each of the gothic set pieces premature burial, mesmerism, exorcism, as well as the inevitable specters for maximum spooky effect, but ultimately depends on a lengthy digression by the well-informed local constable to put them all together for Ethan's benefit. While he offers no ideas here that haven't already been explored by the weird fiction masters cited in his acknowledgments, Clegg's modern sensibility brings out the luster in some of the genre's well-used furniture and shows that tales in the classic horror tradition can still entertain.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Leisure Books; Reprint edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 084395177X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843951776
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,515,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Current Bio:

Douglas Clegg is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Neverland, The Priest of Blood, The Children's Hour, among many other novels and collections. He has written many books and more short stories. Recently, he wrote a new introduction for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the Signet Classics edition and released the short novella, Dinner with the Cannibal Sisters, the novelette Funerary Rites, and the ebook mega-collection, Lights Out.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on December 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The year is 1926, and Ethan Gravesend has just inherited Harrow House -- the Watch Point, New York, home of his grandfather Justin Gravesend (who tells the story of his own early years in The Necromancer). Called Nightmare House by the local newspapers because of the events that have taken place under its roof, it is also said that every stone, every piece of glass, of this English-style manor castle was chosen specifically by Justin with full knowledge of its history and possible black-magical effects.

"Harrow, you belong to me," Ethan proclaims upon his arrival. "But I was to learn," the elder Ethan notes in the telling of this story from the present day, "that this house belonged to no man." However, Ethan feels as if he has come home at last. He used to visit Harrow in his youth, but his parents kept him away except for those rare visits, though he would dream of it at night.

Newly single, Ethan is prepared to settle in to his newly acquired wealth and status -- until the dead woman is discovered in the secret walled-off room. Accompanied by chief of police Pocket and local boy Alf, other frightening events are to come (during what the elder Ethan calls a "night of mystery") that will cause him to wonder what exactly his grandfather has let loose in Harrow. But these events will pale in comparison to the new information he discovers about his family.

Author Douglas Clegg has said that Nightmare House is his version of the "quiet ghost story" -- in fact, each Harrow novel reflects a favored literary style of his. Clegg leaps around from first-person to third-person, past to present, with confidence, and he never misses a step. Reader Michael Taylor (from Books in Motion, the audio publisher who produced this edition) follows along gamely.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Raymond Muraida on March 9, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The novel Nightmare House succeeded for me (and I hope for you too) on many levels. I would like to share with you two of them.

First, Setting: The reader is immediately and constantly aware of time and place. Ethan's travels to Harrow through the villages and along the road. The grand tour of Harrow, through its many levels, seen and unseen. The reminders that this was a more simple time - gas lights, unpaved roads, a constable that arrived on bike.

Second, Realism: Now, that may sound funny when reviewing a horror novel, but I'll have to say that when I read this novel, I did not once say to myself, "No way - that makes no sense at all." The story flowed well and made sense. I felt as though I could put myself in Ethan's place and experience it this in the "real" world and not be surprised. Life is full of mysteries and the answers to what happens in the infinite have been faith-based and if you believe in good, you must also believe in evil. The afterlife has never been defined, only interpreted. Ethan's experiences in the Nightmare House kept me glued to the story and my fingers turning the pages.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rhonda Millen on February 11, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of those novels that I just didn't want to put down and wished would never end. Douglas Clegg is truly a master of horror fiction. He knows how to strike the chords of terror within the human mind without the crutches of butchery and gore. His eloquent writing style captivates the senses in such a way you can almost feel, see, hear and taste his every word. Whether this makes any sense at all, I can best describe this novel as terrifyingly beautiful and that I was beautifully terrified.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P. Croft on September 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nightmare House takes you back to the days of horror before "blood and gore" were necessary to scare the pants off you. A very simple haunted house story that grips you from the first page and leaves you breathless at the end. Clegg takes the simple story and adds twists along the way to make it hard to put this book down. The best thing about Nightmare House though is that is it not done, the story of Harrow House is further explored in Mischief and The Infinite.
It has been a long time since I have read horror like this. Clegg has returned to the true roots of horror and maybe he will never return.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Douglas Clegg never ceases to amaze me. With each book he writes, he explores either suspense or supernatural horror in a way that both reaffirms its traditions and goes a step further.
Nightmare House is a direct hit on the old-fashioned stories of hauntings and ghostly visitations from the late 19th and early 20th century, but with some major twists. Set in the mid-1920s, Nightmare House begins as a tale of inheritance: a man at the ledge of youth and middle-age inherits his grandfather's sprawling mansion called Harrow.
But when he enters the house, he isn't prepared for its puzzle-box of mysteries and secrets, and its occult past, which determined the terrors within.
The real brilliance of this novel is that Clegg manages to explore the psyche of a man turned bad, who once believed himself good. For horror lovers, this book has exorcisms, living burial, hidden rooms of arcana and artifact. There's a tale of a man who so wanted to hide a scandal of his life that he destroyed someone else's life to keep the secret, and in doing so he creates a hidden world.
It never goes over-the-top. Clegg manages to rein in the elements, to keep it to the one consciousness of Ethan/Esteban, the unreliable but fascinating narrator of this tale.
An extra novella is included after Nightmare House. It's called Purity. In a little more than a 100 pages, Clegg manages to write about a boy with no soul who wants everything and will stop at very little to get it. Until he meets his match in another boy, who is a confusion of wants.
Purity is told as a love triangle, a story of classes on a moneyed summer island from the viewpoint (primarily) of the teenager who has no money, and it builds to a powerful, unexpected, blunt climax.
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