Graham Masterton’s Heirloom is the story of an antique dealer who purchases a cursed chair. His name is Rick Delatolla and he owns a reasonably successful antique business in Rancho Santa Fe. Rick has a beautiful wife called Sara and a six-year-old son named Jonathan. Rick loves his family, enjoys his work, and is content with his life. Sunday is the only day he doesn’t work and it is on Rick’s one day off that Henry Grant arrives with a truck full of antiques. Most of it is rubbish and Grant admits it, but he has something at the front of the truck that is pretty special and he is confident Rick will want to buy it.
Ricks was just about to take Sara and Jonathan to visit the wild animal park, and Grant is a stranger to him, so he is not impressed by the unexpected visit. Grant is quite persuasive though, and manages to get Rick to wait while he unloads a few other things so that he can get at the item he wants to show him.
When Rick finally sets his eyes on the piece in question he has to agree that it’s special, not to mention unusual. It’s a wooden chair, unlike any chair he has seen before. It has snakes, apples, and wolves’ heads carved into it and, at the crest, there is a grinning creature that looks like a cross between a man and a sea serpent. The back of the chair is even stranger. It has intricate carvings of hundreds of people tumbling from Hell into Sub-Hell. The chair is one of a kind and Grant assures Rick it will change his life.
Rick admits that the chair is unique, but he is not interested in it because it would be too hard for him to sell. Shocked by this, Grant tells Rick that if he buys the chair he will throw in everything else in the van for free. This is a great offer, but Grant seems almost desperate to get rid of the chair and it makes Rick so suspicious that he decides to get on the phone and check if Grant really did get the antiques where he said he did.
Grant’s story checks out, but when Rick goes back outside he finds Sara and Jonathan in a trance-like state and the chair, along with everything else from the van, has been left on his drive. Grant has vanished without being paid. It’s a strange situation and Grant was right. The chair does change Ricks life—for the worse—and no matter how hard Rick tries to get rid of the chair it keeps coming back. Even when Rick throws it off a precipice, into the reservoir below—nearly killing himself in the process—the chair still returns. And when Rick takes an axe to it, his son Jonathan pays the price.
The Heirloom is one of Graham Masterton’s early works; it is 217 pages long and is a pretty good read. I have read any number of stories about haunted houses, and few about haunted cars, but this is the first story I have read about a haunted chair.
I cannot say The Heirloom is the scariest novel I have ever read, because it is not, but it is scary and it is hard not to like the Delatolla family and to sympathize with them when the Devil’s chair starts being a pain in the proverbial butt and turns their happy home into a danger zone, where even the pictures on the wall are no longer safe to hang around without interference.
Other characters in the book are not so easy to like and some are not what they seem at all. If you want to find out who all the good guys and bad guys are though, along with the best way to deal with a haunted chair, you will have to read the book yourself. I’ve given away too much of the story already.