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Martha Wells

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Stargate Monuments

The House of Dies Drear; is it for sale?

I've been thinking about books I read as a kid, and what I liked most. One of them was The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton, which I had from the Scholastic book club thingy that let you buy books in the classroom, and which I read until it fell apart.

"A lushly written story about a contemporary black family that buys the house in Ohio which, a century earlier, Dies Drear and two slaves he had been hiding were murdered. (The house was a stop on the Underground Railroad)"
- New York Times Parents’ Guide to Books for Children

"The house held secrets, Thomas knew, even before he first saw it looking gray and massive on its ledge of rock. It has a century-old legend -- two fugitive slaves had been killed by bounty hunters after leaving its passageways, and Dies Drear himself, the abolitionist who had made the house into a station on the Underground Railroad, had been murdered there, The ghosts of the tree were said to walk its rooms...
— from inside cover, 1968 printing

It wasn't the ghost story that got me, though that helped, it was the "modern family moves into giant spooky old house." I have no idea why exactly, but that grabbed me every time. The more run-down and weird the house, the better. There was one I got from the library that I can't remember the name of, which was "modern family moves into giant spooky old run-down castle" which was the holy grail of this kind of book. I loved it like crazy and would have happily traded places with the protagonist.

If I could afford it, I would buy a spooky old run-down house in a minute. (I have this problem when I'm watching reality paranormal investigation shows, where the house is supposed to be so terrifying and I'm mainly wondering how much it cost, and if it has central air and heat.)

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(I have this problem when I'm watching reality paranormal investigation shows, where the house is supposed to be so terrifying and I'm mainly wondering how much it cost, and if it has central air and heat.)

LOL! *hearts you*

I remember specifically not reading that book as a kid because I knew it would scare the crap out of me. I came to my appreciation of ghost stories and scary stuff like that late. Uh. Age 27-ish, in fact. I was such a wuss.

Now I want to read it, though. I'm glad you mentioned it because I don't think I would have remembered about it on my own.

I liked ghost stories really early. I think watching the old Scooby Doo series probably got me into them. There was one with a kid staying on a farm (something about owls?) that was really good, too.


therienne laughs at me, but there's this sort of run-down giant rambling house on the corner of the street we take to get to the bigger street that gets us to town. It's got dark, sort of smudgy windows and eaves and peaks and a wrap-around porch that disappears into shadows, and every time we pass it I say to her, "See? HAUNTED."

And she mocks, and points out the five cars parked behind it and the two satellite dishes affixed to the roof. But so what if they've split it into apartments? STILL HAUNTED. And I sort of want it.

Also, anything you can live in that was not meant to be lived in. An old church, a warehouse, the pumping station on Spot Pond would make a lovely spooky place to live... =) I'm so there with you.

YES. There was a Ghost Hunters episode where the people lived in an old church, and it looked awesome. (It actually wasn't haunted, just dusty and creaky.)

You should come see our house before we get it fixed up: empty, big, near derelict... maybe haunted?

Ooh, that sounds awesome!

...I'm always looking at the plumbing...

On Ghost Hunters, you find out most hauntings are actually plumbing problems.

You want a spooky old (1850+/-) run-down house? Make an offer . . .

(Comes with Maine climate attached, I'm afraid.)

I couldn't live in Maine, unfortunately; my hands don't work in cold weather.

What did you think of House of Leaves? Family comes to scary house, but more of a modern/eternal feel to the supernatural house. Also, a lot of really interesting work with framing, if you haven't read it yet.

And now I've got to re-read it. Cool =)

I haven't read that one yet, I'll have to try it.

where the house is supposed to be so terrifying and I'm mainly wondering how much it cost, and if it has central air and heat

Ahaha, I have to tell you a story now. *g* Last summer on the road trip, when we went to the allegedly haunted Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the tour guide was really working overtime to tell us scary stories while pretending that she was a cynic. Anyway, the place is 150 years old, and it was a functioning asylum/hospital until the 1990s. And as someone who once ran a 50 year old institution, I must say, the only fear I felt was an utter horror of how they managed to keep that physical plant operating after 150 years. The tour guide was going on and on in this one dark room about this dude that killed this other dude, and I'm just freaking out over the electrical panel. "OH MY GOD THAT IS EXPOSED WIRE. Has this always been like this? I don't think this panel was ever updated! Good lord!!" And the guide is all, "Is that all you have to say?" And I'm all...yes? *g*

I fail hard at being scared of old places. All I see is maintenance issues. *g*

I think they forget that to some people, old buildings are interesting because they're old or different or whatever, not because they're haunted or the scene of mass murders or something.

It's hilarious on Ghost Hunters when Jason and Grant get distracted and start diagnosing the plumbing problems instead of the ghost problem. :)

I went to college in Yellow Springs, OH, where Virginia Hamilton lives and where many of her novels are set (even when she calls the town something different.)

But that was a particularly fine one.

Yep, I really enjoyed it.

The title sounds incredibly familiar, but I don't think I ever read it...maybe it was on Reading Rainbow? Will have to look it up now.

Still giggling at your last paragraph. XD

It won some awards and was pretty popular, so it probably shows up on a lot of YA reading lists.

Wouldn't have been on Reading Rainbow. It's YA, not a picture book.

You should be able to find it on Amazon, I would think. Enjoy.
(and I love your userpic!)

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I loved Land of the Lost.

Not to mention that the possibility of secret passageways is too cool for words. :)

I have a friend who grew up in a haunted house. Unfortunately, it was a nasty ghost that hated her. Pushed her down the stais and such things.

Edited at 2009-03-01 04:01 pm (UTC)

In the house I grew up in, there was actually a secret room. It started out as a side porch, and my father enclosed it as an office, then hid the interior door to it from the living room so it looked like it was part of a bookcase.

That is so cool!

I have a friend who grew up in an Underground Railroad house, only she didn't know it until something went wrong with the septic system, and the workmen dug into it by accident. She wanted people to try to preserve it, but said she was told it wasn't possible.

Spooky old run down houses are cold. Really, really cold. And if they are old enough they don't have any closets.

(In reality wardrobes are not as cool as they are in C.S.Lewis books.)

If you go to buy one try to find Victorian era or later so you have closets...and bathrooms. ;)

I've toured or stayed in or researched a lot of old houses over the years, so I'm pretty familiar with the downside.

I loved those kinds of books, too. One of my favourites was The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (though it's not the one you're looking for).

Did you read the Green Knowe series? I didn't know until a few years ago that they were based on an actual English manor which is now a museum.

Yes, I loved the Green Knowe books! I only heard about the house/museum a couple of years ago. I'd love to be able to go there someday.

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