The House of Dies Drear

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The House Of Dies Drear
The House of Dies Drear (Virginia Hamilton novel) cover.jpg
Author Virginia Hamilton
Illustrator Eros Keith
Country United States
Language English
Series Dies Drear
Genre Children's mystery fiction
Publisher Macmillan Publishers
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 246 pp
LC Class PZ7.H1828 Ho[1]
Followed by The Mystery of Drear House

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton is a children's mystery novel, with sinister goings-on in a reputedly haunted house. It was published by Macmillan in 1968 with illustrations by Eros Keith. The novel received the 1969 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The setting of the story is Ohio in 1968. Thomas Small, a 13-year-old African American boy, moves with his family into a house that was once part of the Underground Railroad. His father, Mr. Small, tells Thomas that the caretaker of the house is Mr. Pluto. People think he is the devil because Mr. Pluto rides an old buggy driven by two horses and because Pluto is the Roman name for Hades the god of the underworld.[3] Once they move into the house, strange and scary things begin to happen. They meet a malicious family next to them, the Darrows. In the end, they learn that the Darrows are doing all they can to scare away the Smalls and get the treasure located in the underground railroad tunnel.


The main characters are Mr. Small, Thomas Small, Mrs. Small, Mr. Pluto, Mayhew Skinner (Mr. Pluto's son), and Pesty.

The Darrow feud[edit]

The Darrows have had a feud with Pluto since Grandpa Darrow's time. Mr. Pluto and the Darrows' grandpa were once friends when they were children. One of the youngest Darrow children, Mac, wishes to befriend Thomas, but is punished for attempting to do so. The Darrow boys are blamed for vandalizing the Smalls' kitchen when the Small family is not at home. So at the end Mayhew has a plan to scare the Darrows for good.

Literary techniques[edit]

There are red herrings, like when Mr. Pluto wears gloves you think he is hiding something on his hands, how he dresses weird. That sends you in the wrong direction, so you think that has something to do with why he is acting so strangely. As a matter of fact, this is because the man that barges into the Smalls' house is not Mr. Pluto at all. It is Mayhew Skinner, Pluto's son.

There are suspenseful moments and mysterious moments, such as when the shadowy figure enters the Smalls' house and places three triangles, and then mysteriously in Mr. Small's new office at the University Mr. Small and Thomas find the last triangle. When they get home that day, the Smalls find someone has sneaked into their house and messed up the kitchen, spilling food on the floors and counter-tops and all the plates have been destroyed in the house. Also when a second Mr. Pluto is found and it turns out it is Mayhew Skinner, Pluto's son.


Library of Congress Subject Headings for The House of Dies Drear are: African Americans, Mystery and detective stories, Underground Railroad, and Ohio-History.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The House of Dies Drear". Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
  2. ^ The Edgars database
  3. ^ Pluto is also the Roman god of wealth, appropriately as the caretaker is the guardian of buried treasure.

External links[edit]