David’s Haunted Library: Shadow People And Cursed Objects and Wicked Gardens

David's Haunted Library

28810445I have two anthologies that I want to talk about and they have one thing in common. They both include a story from Horror Addicts hostess Emerian Rich. The First book is Shadow People and Cursed Objects edited by C. Le Mroch. There may be a lot of ghost anthologies out there but what makes make this one different is that it challenges you to guess if each ghostly tale is based on a true story or not. At the end of the book  is a section that gives background info on each story and tells you if its true or the author’s imagination.

Shadow People and Cursed Objects has thirteen tales that are well written and delightfully spooky. The first story is The Busby Chair by Alice J. Black. In this one, a boy is dared by his classmates to sit in a cursed chair in a museum. According to legend, a ghost will come and kill you if you sit in his chair. I loved the atmosphere here and how it includes an old legend and kids doing something dumb due to a dare. This was the perfect set up for the rest of the anthology.

It’s hard to pick favorites, but one of mine was Bye Bye Blackbird by Emerian Rich. Set in 1926, it focuses on a shy woman who spots a raven necklace that she must have. Despite the shopkeeper refusing to sell, she ends up with the necklace after a series of events and wishes she hadn’t. What I love about it is how the twenties comes to life with references to flappers and the descriptions of the outfits they wear. I liked that despite the main characters getting warned about the necklace, they seem to think that the warning means something different and the woman with the necklace becomes a target. I loved the concept of a cursed object causing so much destruction.

Another story that stood out for me here is Doomsday Every Night At Five by Evan Dicken. The story looks at a simpler time where a young girl keeps seeing stories of the apocalypse on an old TV every night at 5. After awhile she comes to the conclusion that the people in the TV are watching her as she is watching them and there are things happening that she can’t control. There is only one way to end how she feels, I love the ending to this one.  I also enjoyed the next story in the anthology which again deals with a kid taking a dare. Fatty And The Nothing Man by Sean Ealy follows a boy named Fatty who decides to venture into a haunted house in order to impress his so called friends. Inside he meets the old woman who owns the house and finds that there is only one way to leave the house. What I liked here was how the woman talks Fatty into what she wants him to do and then Fatty makes a big revelation of his own. Does anything good ever come from a dare?

Another great one here is Pedro by the book’s editor C. Le Mroch. Did you ever have an invisible sibling that your parents talked about being perfect in every way? We’ll Peter had that, his name was Pedro and now Peter is an adult and Pedro is getting Peter’s son into trouble. How do you stop a ghost from causing trouble? Peter will find out that there is only one way to do it. This was an excellent story with a good message to it. There are no bad stories in Shadow People and Cursed Objects. The editor did an excellent job of picking the best of the best and the concept of deciding what is real or what isn’t also makes this book a must read. This is one book that you shouldn’t pass up.

The other anthology is Wicked Gardens Edited by Mark Slade and Gavin Chappell. This book is differentCfc5tMWWwAAYs7a than most books out there. In this collection, we have several stories that range from the bizarre to the horrific and they all have to do with an apartment building and a garden. Anything goes in this anthology and if I had to describe it in two words I would say it’s oddly original. I’m no stranger to Mark Slade’s work. When you read a book that has him involved you just need to check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride, and I did just that.

One of my favorite stories here was from Emerian Rich called The Garden. Belinda went to live with her Gram after her dad died and mom ran off. She feels lonely sometimes but the roses in Gram’s garden are always there when no one else is. I love the foreshadowing in the beginning of this story with Belinda being compared to the flowers that her grandma grows. There is also a good message about how your loved ones never really abandon you and you are strong enough to survive anything.

Another good one is Giving Up The Ghost by Mark Slade. This one has to do with an unhappy couple, a trapped spirit and a man who doesn’t want to give up his old apartment. I loved the idea of a spirit being kept against its will.

If you like strange, there is one tale in this book that really fits the bill. Apartment 6-A by L.A. Sykes is about a serial killer stuck in an apartment after the apocalypse. One word to describe this one is bleak. There is no light and no living people, just one man alone with the memories of his past killings and some dead bodies which he has conversations with. This was one deranged story.

This may be an odd little book but it’s not one that you should pass up. All of the stories and poems here show a lot of imagination and you have to love a book where anything goes. Wicked Gardens is the kind of book you read when you want to try something totally different because this book will remind you how creative horror writers can be.

 

Movie Review: The Phantom Carriage

MoviePosterPCby A.D. Vick

Three or four months ago, I had just discovered the Russian funeral-doom band known as Ankhagram. As is customary at such times, I listened to a selection of the group’s musical offerings on YouTube. At some point I chose a video entitled Song to Say Goodbye. As the mournful music began, a scene from what could only have been a silent film appeared on my computer screen.

A man sits at his desk smoking a cigarette pensively. Without warning, he opens a desk draw and removes a pistol. The scene changes and a ghostly figure wearing a hood and long robe appears. The figure walks through the solid doors and gazes upon the lifeless body of the suicide victim lying on the floor. The sorrowful figure lifts the dead man’s spirit out of his body and carries it outside, where he places it in the back of a phantasmal carriage led by a horse. Thus began my interest in a 1921 Swedish film called The Phantom Carriage.

The production, which both starred and was directed by Victor Sjostrom, opens with Syster Edit (Astrid Holm), a Salvation Army worker, lying in her death bed. She makes one final request of her friend and co-worker, Syster Maria (Lisa Lundholm), asking that she attempt to find a certain David Holm (Victor Sjostrom) and bring him to her one last time.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holm is sitting in the darkness of a nearby cemetery getting drunk with a couple of friends. It’s New Year’s Eve and as the midnight hour approaches, Holm decides to tell his companions a ghost story about a former friend named Georges, who had imparted some valuable information one New Year’s Eve.

On that night Georges had told his companions that whoever dies on New Year’s Eve must drive the cart of death, a task for which the driver would be greeted only by sorrow and despair. “The last soul to die each year,” Georges had told him, “the one to give up the ghost, at the stroke of midnight, is destined to be death’s driver during the coming year.” Georges himself, Holm added, had passed from this world on the previous New Year’s Eve.

As Holm finishes his story, Gustafsson, another associate of Syster Edit, discovers him in the cemetery. The drunk man refuses to accompany Gustafsson back to Syster Edit’s death bed and the gentleman has no choice but to leave without him. Holm’s companions however, attempt to convince him that he must go to honor the dying lady. Holm’s reluctance continues and a fight ensues. The struggle ends when one of the men strikes a blow to the defiant man’s head with a bottle. Holm falls to the ground—his body limp. The men gaze upward to see that the hands a nearby clock have just arrived at 12:00 midnight. Horrified, the two scatter. Shortly after, the ghost of David Holm rises from his limp body only to confront the death cart and it’s driver, his old friend Georges.

The Phantom Carriage is a film about selfishness and redemption. Through the use of flashback, a narrative style almost unused at the time, David Holm is revealed as a man of vile character, a rude drunkard who has exposed the kindhearted Syster Edit as well as his own wife to the ravages of consumption (tuberculosis) without a care. In a style somewhat reminiscent of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Georges attempts to show Holm, who must now relieve him as the driver of the carriage, the error of his ways. When the ghostly drunkard sees his distraught wife, Anna, preparing to take her own life as well as those of their children, he pleads with Georges to intervene. The death cart driver sadly informs him that he has no power over the living.

The Phantom Carriage, which was based on a novel entitled Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness by the Nobel Prize winning author Selma Lagerlof, is regarded as a vital piece of the Swedish film legacy. The production is highly regarded for its special effects and its unique style of narration. It is also an early example in the evolution of horror films.

For those who would like to watch the movie, it’s available on YouTube, as is an official trailer. That said, the Ankhagram video that first attracted this reviewer to the film serves as an excellent trailer in and of itself. And, if you enjoy doom metal, you’ll be in for a real treat.

Nightmare Fuel: The Watcher of Westfield

Hello Addicts,

For the season finale, I thought we might go house hunting in Westfield, NJ, where one home has garnered a lot of attention over the past year. It’s a house with everything a young family might want, including it’s very own stalker.

A family of five closed on the $1.3 million house in 2014 and were excited to move in, but within three days their happiness turned into terror.  A letter left at their front door claimed that the house had been watched since 1920’s by people known as The Watchers, with the latest member of their clan doing so for the past twenty years.  The current Watcher boasted about roaming around the house and imagining living with the rich occupants.  As if that alone wasn’t creepy enough, The Watcher claimed to have told the previous owners to fill the house with young blood so he could learn their names and call them to him. He also claimed control of the house later letters to the homeowners, asking them which room each family member would get so he could plan better.  He even hinted at something hidden within the walls of the home..

Although it is still an ongoing investigation, skeptics have hypothesized that the entire affair was made up by the new homeowners as a way to back out of the completed sale. Another possibility is that they wanted to create something to grab attention and give them their fifteen minutes of fame, and, if so, it seems to be working.  Movie studios, such as Blumhouse Productions and New Line Cinema, are already rushing to secure the story rights for a potential movie.  All of this may come as little relief to the current owners of the home as they refuse to move into the house and are unable to sell the home because of the ever vigilant Watcher.

Until next season Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

HorrorAddicts.net 122, Dario Ciriello

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Horror Addicts Episode# 122

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

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David’s Haunted Library: The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B

23183676Kat and Marie Bench are not like other girls, they may be interested in make-up and boys but they are also obsessed with ghosts. They love telling ghost stories, they read all the books about ghosts that they can find, they watch movies about ghosts and TV shows about ghost hunters. They even have a blog called the ghost sisters and hope to become ghost hunters and see one someday.

The ghost girls along with their divorced mom have just moved to Pueblo Colorado and will start school at Apache Middle School. Starting at a new school can be hard and classes at Apache are even harder because the ghost of a young girl haunts the hallways. She opens lockers and slams them shut, makes the lights flicker, leaves mysterious messages around school and can be heard crying and shrieking. Kat and Marie’s dreams of seeing a ghost are about to come true and their career as ghost hunters are just beginning. Hopefully they can find out why the ghost is there and save the school from any further damage.

The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B by Patricia Santos Marcantonio may be a Y.A. novel that is meant for kids but it’s a story that adults will like also. Despite me not being the intended audience for this book, I really enjoyed it because a good story is a good story and I like anything that has to do with the supernatural. I also liked the ghost sisters and wanted to see how they dealt with a real ghost. Kids will love this book because they will be able to relate to the problems that these middle school kids are dealing with.  I liked that the girls have to deal with going to a new school because of a divorce which is something lots of kids deal with. These girls deal with it well though thanks to a passion for ghosts.

There was a lot to like about this book, in particular I liked when we first meed the ghost sisters and they talk about their love of the supernatural. Though I have to say my favorite part of The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B was the message on how bullying affects kids. In the book Kat and Marie have a friend named Trini who has to deal with bullying.  I liked that Trini doesn’t want to tell adults about the bullying because she is embarrassed about it. Its pretty normal for a kid to not want to admit to being bullied and I liked seeing how Kat, Marie and the adults in their lives deal with the problem.

The Ghost Sisters And The Girl In Hallway B is everything you would want a YA novel to be, there is a good mystery to it, some scenes with ghosts that kids will really like and some good humor. One of the funniest parts was when one of the sisters says that 10 years was so long ago and the other sister says “In adult time that’s not very long.” Patricia seems to really know how young kids think. I hope this is the beginning of a series so we can have more adventures with The Ghost Sisters.

David’s Haunted Library: Containment

20563870Life is different in the late 22nd century. We’ve had wars, drones watch all of our movements and ghosts are used as a power source. When someone dies their spirit is taken to a containment unit where for eternity their energy is used in place of fossil fuels to light up the city of Charlotte. One of the workers at the Spectral power containment facility is a devil-human hybrid named Feast. Feast is a rare breed and different form most people in the city. He has had his run ins with the city and the dead seem to be more attracted to him than anyone else.

Feast doesn’t necessarily agree with the way the city is run but goes along with it because he appreciates the benefits he gets from working for the city. All of that changes when Feast has to help bring down a powerful entity that has the ability to make you see your worst fears or your greatest desires. Feast starts to see that he is more than he thought he was, but it might not be enough to keep him from becoming a ghost trapped in the containment unit.

Containment by Eden Royce is a book that hooked me right away. The concept of ghosts being used as a power source in the future is an original idea unlike anything I’ve read before. I also love how the book starts off, Eden makes you feel compassion for Feast as you hear what he thinks about the ghosts trapped in the Containment unit. Feast has a sense of hopelessness, he sees what happens to spirits when they die and knows everyone ends up in the same horrible space. You also sees how he lives in a society where there is little freedom.

Despite what looks like a bleak existence for  Feast he is still grateful for many things, he likes the benefits from his job and he talks with the ghosts in the containment unit despite being a little freaked out by them. He may not like how things are but he doesn’t see everything as bad either. One of my favorite parts of this book was when Feast tells how he thinks we should live life and later says that the ghosts in the containment unit are not the only ghosts there are. Feast is a fascinating character and the descriptions of the world he lives in are equally as interesting.

Another thing I like about this book is how the story is told. In the beginning the story seems deceptively simple. As the plot moves along its like Eden is adding more layers to the story. There is a lot going on in this book which leads me to my one complaint, its short. From reading Containment you get the impression that it is part of a much bigger story and there are unanswered questions. On a positive note there is a sequel to Containment available so I’m hoping that this becomes a series. Containment is a beautifully written story that shows that there are a lot of original story ideas out there.

 

Suicide Forest and Shadeylight

23570089It’s hard to explain the human mind. Why are we drawn to places that have a history of death and that people say is cursed. Why would anyone want to go camping in a place called Suicide Forest? Perhaps it’s for a thrill or just to see a place that most people are terrified to go to. Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates is a psychological horror story that looks at people’s fascination with death, why people commit suicide, the hardships of life, friendship and love.

The story is fairly simple, it follows a group of five people on their way to climb Mount Fuji in Japan. Their trip gets rained out, they meet two other hikers and decide to camp in Suicide Forest instead. Suicide Forest is a real place where hundreds of Japanese citizens go each year to commit suicide. The forest has a dark history, the area is considered cursed and is associated with demons in Japanese mythology. The place contains rocky caverns, trees twisted into strange formations and is absent of wildlife. The seven campers are hoping to see a ghost or perhaps a body but they get far more than they bargained for.

The thing I admired about Suicide Forest was that this is a book that didn’t have a lot of action until the end but still managed to keep me interested. I found the characters so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down. Even the characters that aren’t in the book long have fascinating back stories. This is a psychological horror story which explores some deep subjects in a horrific setting. As dark as it is it actually has some funny moments as well, such as when the campers talk about the quickest ways to die. It’s a heavy topic but even in a hard situation I felt this scene added realism because even in a life threatening situation you would make light of it to deal with the horror all around you.

This book is light on action but big on suspense. The reader is constantly left with a feeling of unease because you’re not quite sure what’s happening until the end. The only thing you know for sure is that entering the forest was a bad idea and all the characters seem to turn on each other at one point. This book made me think of The Blair Witch Project with the exception being that this takes place in what is believed to be a real haunted setting.

There were several things I loved about this book.  I liked how it looks at Japanese culture and how the setting is described. From reading this book I felt like I had visited the Suicide Forest myself. I also liked the discussions in this book on why people commit suicide, with some saying they understand it and others saying they don’t. I also loved when one of the minor characters makes a revelation about death that’s hard to disagree with. This is also reflected well in the end of the book when you see that two of the main characters are forever changed by the experience they had with one feeling one way and the other being at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you want to know what I mean read the book and find out, you won’t be disappointed.

24549934Another book I want to talk about is Shadeylight:Vella The Virgin Vegan Vampire by J.K. Elemenopy  with a little help from Kimberly Steele. This book answers the question of what would happen if 50 Shades Of Grey and Twilight were able to mate and have a love child. Shadeylight is the answer to that question and a very good parody of both best-selling books. This is a story that’s all told from a first person viewpoint of a self obsessed college age girl who wants nothing more than to protect her no no and promote the vegan lifestyle.

Vella is a proud virgin and the subject of many men’s fantasies. She attends the local community college and wants to be a writer. Everything changes when she meets billionaire Xavier Cash who just happens to be part unicorn/part vampire. Vella is not your average girl though, she has a secret that she is not fully aware of and also has split personalities. Vella constantly has to deal with her perverted inner goddess and overbearing vegan subconscious. To make matters even more complicated she has another man who is interested in her named  Jean-Pierre La Fine.

This is the kind of book that you don’t get because the story looks good, this is the kind of book you get because you think that with a title like that it has to be entertaining. Shadeylight is a pretty funny read and this is coming from a person who would never dream of reading Twilight or 50 Shades Of Grey. Despite not knowing the source material, I’ve heard enough about both books where I got all the references and all the gags.

Nothing is off-limits in this book, it makes fun of everything including a scene where one of the characters makes fun of the author of the book. It makes fun of self obsessed writers, bad writing and it looks at how hypocritical people can be. My favorite scene was when Vella and Xavier go to a  Hotties Anonymous meeting. Who knew that people who are beautiful get discriminated against because of the chronic condition of being hot. Shadeylight also has some strange sex scenes that would make 50 Shades Of Grey look like a G rated movie.

Shadeylight is more than just a goofy parody though. This is a story that is using humor to put forth a message about going vegan while showing how silly some books that are considered popular can be. At the same time it still doesn’t take itself seriously. Who can resist a book that has Bacon trolls, sex with Cthulu and a vampire with serious mommy issues. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Shadeylight is one bizarre read that you don’t want to miss.