Charles Boone, in letters addressed to “Bones”, describes the arrival of himself and his manservant, Calvin McCann, at Chapelwaite, the neglected ancestral home of Charles’s estranged dead cousin. Calvin learns that many people in the nearby Maine town of Preacher’s Corners think Charles and Calvin are mad for living in the mansion. The house is said to be “a bad house”, with a history of sad events, disappearances, and mysterious noises which Charles attributes to “rats in the walls”. Calvin finds a hidden compartment in the library containing an old map of a deserted village called Jerusalem’s Lot, a mysterious area the townsfolk avoid. Their curiosity piqued, Charles and Calvin set out to explore the village.