I was honestly really surprised to discover House of Bones, a novel by Graham Masterton, was for young adults. I honestly didn’t believe it at first. You see, Graham Masterton usually writes adult horror. Very adult horror. Oodles of gore and scads of sex (Masterton doubles as a prolific author of sex manuals). So I thought maybe Goodreads had this book labeled wrong. Then I realized that House of Bones was originally published by the Point horror label, the big teen horror publisher when I was growing up. As far as I can tell, it’s Masterton’s only contribution to the label. This made me intrigued. I wondered how much Masterton really toned it down. And I wondered how this one would compare to his adult fiction.
And I was more than pleasantly surprised. House of Bones is easily one of Masterton’s most entertaining novels. It absolutely manages to be creepy and disturbing without being very gory at all.
The plot revolves around 18-year-old John, a recent graduate starting at his first real job, a real estate agency. On his first day, he makes a huge mistake when left alone in the office, and accidentally lends a prospective client a key to an off-limits house. Apparently, Mr. Vane, the owner has a list of properties which only he is allowed to show. None of his employees are allowed any access to these properties, and John learns out why after the wife of the client he leant the key to reports her husband missing. John and his coworkers begin to do a little investigating and soon learn the dark secret of Mr. Vane and his “special list” properties.
House of Bones isn’t long, only about 250 pages, and the action moves along at a quick pace. John and his coworkers are a likable group of young adults, and you find yourself genuinely fearing for their safety and caring about their fates. Masterton also ably conveys the atmosphere of fear and foreboding exerted by the cursed abodes; the terror of the houses and their sinister, otherworldly inhabitants is palpable.
Masterton’s works have always gotten under my skin in the best way possible, and House of Bones is no exception. I highly recommend it for teens, as well as adult horror fans who might find the explicitness of Masterton’s other writing a bit overwhelming.