Thursday, April 15, 2010

Henry Kuttner's "The Graveyard Rats" (short story, horror, free): Grave robber meets something nastier

This is the first published story of Kuttner.

I've sometimes felt H P Lovecraft was a major influence on Kuttner. A lot of Kuttner's work can be called horror, though he normally presents it in an uncreepy way. Ending of at least 2 of his stories are directly inspired by the very cool ending of Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth".

And this story seems inspired by Lovecraft even in its creepiness, though Kuttner doesn't depend as much on reader's prejudices to invoke creepiness as Lovecraft does. This story will probably appeal more to Lovecraft fans than to regular Kuttner fans.

Story summary.

A graveyard overrunning with huge rats burrowing in very wide tunnels. Cases of many graves robbed of the bodies. Many hints that rats are controlled by a subterranean intelligence, old folk's dread of old rat infested houses, unexplained disappearance of previous graveyard keeper, etc.

Current graveyard keeper is a crook, robbing graves himself. When rats rob him of his prey, he goes after them. Of course, he won't be alive by the end.

Fact sheet.

First published: Weird Tales, March 1936.
Download full text from Internet Archive or from this unnamed site.
Rating: B.
Related: Stories of Henry Kuttner, H P Lovecraft; rats & mice in fiction; fiction from 1930s.


Jennifer said...

ugh...I remember this story, one of the most horrible I have ever read, I found myself feeling sick with claustrophobia. Hard one to get through, yet one of the best for horror.