70. Horror House by J. N. Williamson (1981)
Length: 382 pages
Started: 17 August 2012
Finished: 22 August 2012
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 June 2009
Why do I have it? I like horror and J. N. Williamson is a new author for me.
Number 1129 Ridge Avenue – in the winter of 1871, Civil War profiteer Charles Wright Congelier, his wife Lyda and their young servant, Essie moved into the mansion after they bought it for a song. Weeks later, Lyda Congelier brutally murdered Charles and Essie after discovering her philandering husband having an affair with Essie. For roughly 20 years, the house stood vacant until a reclusive doctor named Adolph C. Brunrichter purchased the house in the early 1900s. A year later, the horrific sounds of a woman screaming followed by a huge explosion, brought firefighters into a true ‘House of Horrors’: Dr. Brunrichter had disappeared, leaving behind him gruesome remnants of his multiple demented experiments in the reanimation of the dead.
In the spring of 1920, esteemed inventor Thomas A. Edison entered the house on Ridge Avenue in order to test his newest invention: The Spirit Telephone. What transpired in the hours that the elderly inventor and his acquaintance, Freddie Parlock, were in that house, changed both men immeasurably for the rest of their lives and unleashed a terrifying and demonic evil on the world. No one dared enter, until…
February of 1988 – Ben Kellogg and Laura Hawks decide to collaborate on a book about the hellish legend of 1129 Ridge Avenue. The house at 1129 Ridge Avenue had been completely destroyed in 1927 due to a tremendous gas main explosion that damaged the houses around it very minimally. The house itself may have been gone, but the gruesome stories of death remained. Ben has recently acquired Thomas Edison’s Spirit Telephone and plans to recreate his long-abandoned experiment in an effort to prove, to the public at large at least, that communication with the spirit world is impossible.
To that end, Ben enlists the help of renowned ghost hunter and personal friend, Martin Ruben. Ben, however, has kept the true reasons for his interest in The Spirit Telephone to himself: his recently deceased mother had spent the majority of her life in a mental hospital, tormented by ghostly visions that, in turn, had ruined Ben’s and his older brother’s childhoods. As a result, Ben’s true desire in recreating Thomas Edison’s experiment has been to validate his mother’s torturous existence and give her soul final peace.
I really did enjoy this book. I have read this book twice, and I do have to admit that this book was initially very slow for me to get into, but picked up relatively fast. This book is at least partially based on factual history: according to legend, there was a house – known as the Congelier Mansion – located at 1129 Ridge Avenue – and the original occupants, the Congeliers and Essie; as well as the unstable, murderous Dr. Brunricher, committed such horrific acts of depravity – that 1129 Ridge Avenue became known ‘America’s most haunted house’ and Pittsburgh entered the annals of haunting.
Thomas Edison supposedly did visit the house in 1920, and the house’s dark history inspired him to attempt to communicate with the Other Side. Thomas Edison’s final invention, called The Spirit Telephone, was never actually completed so I’m not too sure if its prototype was ever tested inside the house. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison passed away in 1931 and his future plans for The Spirit Telephone never came to fruition.
The house on 1129 Ridge Avenue was obliterated in a gas main explosion that happened in November, 1927. A drunken vagrant, claiming to be the infamous Dr. Brunrichter, was arrested in September, 1927 and told police shocking stories of blood-soaked orgies, demonic possession, torture and murder which took place in the house on 1129 Ridge Avenue. The ‘doctor’ had claimed that he had once owned that house, and stated that he had murdered many more young women then were found at the location in the 1900s.
The police never could verify who the vagrant was, nor could they find evidence of his alleged crimes beyond the vagrant’s own story. As a result, they only kept him in prison for a month – deeming him a “harmless drunk who suffered from delusions of grandeur” and releasing him into the community. Whoever this man was, he disappeared and was never seen or heard from again.
The entire plot that took place in 1988 was, according to J. N. Williamson, a work of fiction. I’m not too sure if the architect of the house that would eventually become known as the Congelier Mansion, actually did commit suicide on his first night in his new home, but to my knowledge, the various paranormal events that happened in the past are all true. I really enjoyed my reread of this book and ultimately give this book an A+!
A+! – (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight