I haven’t really read anything else of Stoker’s other than Dracula so when I found this on Librivox I knew that I had to check it out.
A young mathematics student called Malcolm Malcolmson is looking for a quiet place where he can be alone and study at peace. Looking around, he comes across an old and desolate abandoned house in a random town he had never heard of before.
He finds the house agent who is very pleasantly surprised that he is interested in that house, especially since there is such a stigma around it and he even says that he is willing to give it out for free just so that people can be seen living inside so that the locals prejudice hopefully stops. It turns out that the house belonged to an infamous judge who used to hang a lot of prisoners.
Disregarding the warnings of other people, Malcolm decides to spend a night in it. After supper, he gets out his book and begins studying. After a while, he starts to hear the rats in the walls whos noises become louder and louder. But, in the end, he begins to get used to the rat noises and he even starts to feel comfortable from them.
Close to dawn, the noises begin to stop. At that time Malcolm notices a very big rat sitting on the beautiful oak chair. He tries to scare it away but it does not budge, so he decides to chase it away with the poker. After that, he begins to notice that the house is not as harmless as he thought.
This is a much shorter story than his most popular book, it’s still a decent read. Although it is not really as scary as one would hope it still does not fail to deliver. It’s an interesting concept where reason and superstition begin to cross paths much like in Dracula where people of science and reason are challenged by the occult and supernatural.
I wouldn’t say that I loved the story but I nonetheless enjoyed it. Even though it does not match up to his most well-known work it is still a decent short story that will surely entertain you. It is pretty unique and unpredictable. I did not expect it to go into the direction in which it did (I don’t want to spoil too much so I won’t get into details) but it was a very pleasant surprise.
Final verdict: 7.5/10