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Book Review: "Crawlspace" by Herbert Lieberman

5/5 - a brilliantly written psychological horror novel...

By Annie KapurPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
From: Too Much Horror Fiction

...facing the black square of the crawl, I had a sudden sensation that I was in a dream and that I’d dreamed the dream many times before. I saw myself entering the square—entering that cold, wet, dark place with the awful smell of sewage and human waste, the dry, hard ground crumbling, sinking beneath my feet, the straw pallet mouldering in the darkness...

- Crawlspace by Herbert Lieberman

I feel like I should have read this book a while ago because it has kind of always been there. On lists of my Amazon Recommendations, on lists of scariest books of the 1970s, on lists of the greatest psychological horror novels ever written. It's one of those books that I am not sure why I avoided, but I just never got around to reading it. But it has been there for years and years.

Very well written and compelling as hell, this book proves to be one of the most mind-blowing psychological nightmares of the 20th century. Featuring themes of anxiety, control issues and abandonment, there are also even darker themes of mass panic, claustrophobia and home invasion horror. There's something about strangers coming into your home and not leaving that makes the horror even scarier because your home is your sancutary, the barrier between you and the world. When it no longer serves its purpose, a human's state of mind can break as they realise the barrier has been removed by invaders.

From: Etsy

The book is about a childless couple named Albert and Alice and is narrated by the earlier. The plot revolves around a man named Richard Attlee who comes in to do some handyman work for them and then, starts to not leave. He hides in the crawlspace in their house, the one where cats once lived to kill the rats of the previous owners. Being childless, the couple then start to try and accept Richard into their lives after unsuccessfully changing the locks. When they finally do let him back in, he starts displaying control and abandonment issues, deep psychological trauma and troubling problems that alert the townsfolk against him.

As the tension rises, we see that these two people try to come to terms with being ostracised by other people whilst also trying to be the parents they never had the chance to be. We not only witness this, but their relationship starts to become rocky, they argue more and are in disagreement about what to do about Richard. When things go awry with Richard, the policce become involved, the forests start to close in and the ending comes to a dramatic climax where things are solved, and others are not.

The descriptions in this book are wonderful, especially towards the end of the novel. There is something about the atmosphere that makes you feel uneasy. It is not gory horror and it is not shock horror, instead it is a pervading fear that encapsulates all human beings - the fear of saying 'no'. The feat of not appearing to be a good person to others. Where the church comes in, we see some opinions start to form about Albert and Alice, especially advice given at the beginning that they do not even know Richard enough to take him in. But, wanting to be 'good people' they assure the church that they are more than capable of learning things. What they learn is weird, scary and much worse than just the psychological problems present.

From: Amazon

The book itself is brilliant. It is compelling on every page with everything getting started immediately, not being dragged out but not being cut short either. Certain scenes definitely feel like the author has paid attention to how pace is received by the reader and how they interpret tension. I really was surprised by how good it was.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book for all psychological horror and thriller lovers. It is weirdly under-read but I am sure that there are more people out there who would enjoy it. The clear and abstract descriptions, the feelings of pervading fear, the pounding tension and the atmosphere that gains clarity as you read along - this book is sure to capture your imagination in the worst ways.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

195K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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Comments (1)

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  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Fabulous review!!! Love it!!!💕♥️♥️

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