The 7th Guest (novel)

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The 7th Guest

7th Guest, The - Novel, A - Hardcover - USA.jpg

Hardcover - USA - 1st Edition.

Author Matthew Costello, Craig Shaw Gardner
Published 1995-07-19
Type Fiction, Novelization
Genre Horror
Themes Horror
Age Group Adult

The 7th Guest: A Novel is a horror novel written by Matthew Costello and Craig Shaw Gardner and released on 1995-07-19. It is the novelization of the video game The 7th Guest. Costello wrote the script for the video game, and his plot was novelized by Gardner. The book expands on the events of video game.

The book is set in the USA during prohibition. It starts by following Henry Stauff, an unemployed drunk who believes the voices in his head are keeping him alive, and those voices are telling him to commit crimes. At first, Stauff is hesitant, but, as his life descends into destitution, he begins to relish hurting others. Later, the voices tell Stauff to become a toy maker, and they give him visions of eerie dolls to fashion. They're surprisingly desirable, and every child in town wants to buy his ingenious toys. As Stauff is raking in the money, children all over town begin to die from a mysterious virus. Stauff uses his money to build a mansion and becomes a creepy recluse. Then, out of the blue, six extremely desperate people receive invitations to join the unseen Stauff for an unusual "party."


Own?Hardcover, USA, 1st edition.
Read?Hardcover, USA, 1st edition.

Wanting to delve deeper into The 7th Guest universe, I found the book for cheap online and bought it. I wasn't expecting much from it, and that's exactly what I got.




— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The novel follows the source material very closely, even including verbatim passages from the live-action cut scenes, but it also adds a lot more backstory to each of the guests. I prefer this approach to novelizations compared to those which significantly alter the source material.


  • The added backstory isn't all that interesting.
  • Although I like that the book uses the game's dialogue, it also describes the puzzles, which is a bit tedious, as well as the supernatural cutscenes from the game, which have very little to do with plot, so it just slows down the story.
  • The book includes the nursery rhyme about the guests being invited to the house and disappearing, but it is somehow known to the child Tad. This doesn't make sense because it's describing the actual events Tad is taking part in. It would have made more sense if the novel incorporated the investigation from the game's documentation which occurs after the "party," but the investigation isn't included in the book at all. Also, the nursery rhyme has been altered to use "seven" guests, which also doesn't make sense at the time because nobody would have known Tad was involved until later.
  • The book is meant to follow the time loop aspect of the game with the ghost of Tad finally breaking the cycle. However, there is only one brief interlude with Tad's ghost halfway through, then, a little bit more at the very end of the book. All of the commentary of Tad's ghost during the vignettes is absent. It feels like it wasn't meant to be part of the novel at first, but then was added at the last minute.


  • The writing is not polished at all. I don't know if this was due to a hurried release, having two authors, or what, but it feels amateur through the whole book. The eerie scenes from the game have been neutered with bland descriptions. There are also a handful of typos which makes it feel more like we're reading a draft than a finished work.
  • The story is spoon-fed to the reader. The game is a bit vague at times, and the vignettes that often take place out-of-order make it harder to follow the time line, but the book describes the plot in unnecessary detail. For example, in the game, it's pretty obvious that Stauff captured the children's souls in his toys through the "virus," but the book makes it explicitly clear across several pages, then comes back to it multiple times throughout the book.



Strong female character?PassElinor Knox shows growth and a strong desire to break out of her old life and help someone. The other two don't show growth, but are still both willing to do what it takes to achieve their dreams, even if it means being evil.
Bechdel test?FailThere are several women, but they never talk to each other.
Strong person of color character?FailEveryone in the book is white.
Queer character?FailNone of the characters appear to be queer.