David’s Haunted Library: Sleep Savannah Sleep


 

Jason Crandall needed to make a new start, he worked in Los Angeles as a Marketing executive for years. Sadly his wife died leaving him as a widower with an 18-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. He decided to start his new life in Shadow Springs by becoming a massage therapist. Shadow Springs seems like a nice little town but before long before cracks start to form in the town’s illusion of normalcy and secrets come to light.

First Jason has to deal with a jealous husband of one of his clients but life gets more complicated as the beautiful Savannah Sturgess goes missing. Jason starts to have horrible visions that make him doubt his sanity and some people are looking at him as a suspect in the disappearance.  Everyone in town has their own set of secrets, but the biggest secret is what happened to Savannah and why won’t the dead rest in peace?

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross is a book that works on several levels. It’s a murder mystery, horror novel and ghost story with the perfect setting of a small mysterious town.  The first half of the book takes its time making us feel empathy for the characters. By the time strange things happen in the second half you’re totally hooked and wanting to see what happens next.

The detail put into each character makes them come to life and while they are shown one way, to begin with you see other sides to them as the story moves along. Savannah, in the beginning, is seen as the town whore but when we get into why she is the way she is, she becomes a sympathetic character. Also, Flynn Garvey who is Savannah’s boyfriend has no personality in the beginning, but later we dig a little deeper and find he has a secret and there is more depth to him than we thought. Even the character of Tabitha Cooper who is not in the story much is someone you feel for. She is seen as a crazy old witch, but in reality is very different than others see her. All of the characters present an image to the outside world but if you scratch the surface a little they show another side. You care about these people because you can relate to them and that makes things even scarier when odd things start to happen.

The best part of this book was when Jason is questioning his sanity. You see him as just a guy dealing with the loss of his wife and trying to raise his kids to the best of his abilities but as he is having visions that make no sense his life quickly unravels. The feeling of losing your mind when you know people are dependent on you is the worst kind of fear and Jason is also dealing with ghosts from his past. In Sleep Savannah Sleep the horror doesn’t come from what you see, it comes from what you don’t see. This is an old school horror novel that preys on your emotions rather than showing you horrific imagery, though it does that too. Alistair Cross shows that he is a master storyteller by giving us memorable characters and a twist ending that you’ll never see coming.

 

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David’s Haunted Library: 3 Down

25705430Heidi was at a crossroads in life, she was recently divorced and she just moved into a new condo. She had a little house-warming party which is where things start to go dreadfully wrong. She didn’t realize she had a stalker or that the stalker has people helping him. To make matters worse the stalker has invented a love potion and he knows how to handle his victims. After a new start, Heidi’s world is crashing down around her and the only help she has is from her friend Jane.

In order to survive her stalker’s plan of revenge, Heidi has to start to think like a killer and become something she never thought she would be. She is also going to have to learn to hide dead bodies because they are starting to pile up and she can’t trust the police.

3 Down by Chris Grams would be best described as a cat and mouse game where the hunter and the prey roles keep changing. When I first started reading it I thought it was too bizarre and far-fetched. The book starts with a murder and torture scene and then we find out how the murder victim is someone Heidi knows. We then get into Heidi being brutally attacked, which was a real hard scene to read. What I really took issue with though is how all the characters are tied together. It seemed too convenient and made me almost put the book down. For instance, the way we find out how two of the people who are part of the revenge plot are very close to Jane seemed a little odd. Also, there is a scene where a third victim just happens to run into Jane and Heidi and becomes part of their plan. At this point I found myself thinking: “are they going to tell everyone what they are doing.”

Little by little though I got drawn in and liked how the characters changed personalities. You see Heidi go from being a vulnerable victim to being a resourceful murderer. You also see Jane prove that she is a strong woman who can handle anything. I also like how the stalker/killer is portrayed. We see that he is narcissistic and pure evil and we get a good glimpse into what makes him tick. Though as strong and over-confident as he is, we also get to see what happens when he pushes two strong women too far.

3 Down has its flaws but its an entertaining read. It’s a good murder mystery with several wicked twists and turns. My favorite scene was during and after when Heidi gets attacked and the range of emotions she goes through. A little later on Jane has a scene with an attacker that is just as good and is the most suspenseful part of the book. Chris Grams even adds a little subtle humor in the book, I found myself laughing at how Heidi and Jane are acting so nonchalant about carrying dead bodies in their car, even stopping to have coffee before they dispose of them. If murder and mayhem are your thing or you ever wanted to know what goes through the mind of a murderer then this book is for you.

HorrorAddicts.net 116, Kristin Battestella

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Horror Addicts Episode# 116

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

kristin battestella | new years day | only lovers left alive

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The San Francisco Dungeon ~ Where’s Jack?

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Most of you will recall my write up on the San Francisco Dungeon from April reporting on what an awesome attraction it is.

They invited me back for a very special preview of the new Where’s Jack segment running this summer from June 6th to September 6th right here in San Francisco. The segment focuses on one of the most notorious killers in history, Jack the Ripper.

At first approach, the old-world water-cooler gossip of recent murders entices you. From the newspaper boy calling out that there is a mysterious gentleman trolling the streets, to the photographers and ticket takers telling you to be careful, a murderer is on the loose, they bring you into their world. The Dungeon writers and directors have sprinkled the thought through the tour, all building to Miss Piggott’s Saloon, where you finally hear the story, told by a haunting lady of the street. The chilling tale of Jack’s unknown whereabouts will have you hanging on this beautiful, willowy gal’s words as you try to glean the answer to where Jack is. She walks the room with a lone lantern lit, her ghost-like persona adding to the ambiance as she recounts the death of a friend and the suspicion that Jack the Ripper may indeed be in San Francisco. With the use of animatronics and chair effects, you actually feel certain aspects of how the victims were murdered. Although this is a fictional journey you are led through, the realness of the actors, sets, and sound design make you feel as if the threat is real.0FKFoE-v5bbZEN0ELBvR2IsKAkf_R_c2QzpX_G2FCqs,A5TthayvsaVTv9YiyZ_U9cUaZlPeUsYM_ymbj-Ha_CM

I won’t tell you when or where Jack appears, but when he finally shows, the genius behind the play writing comes into view. His identity is so obscured, it keeps you wanting just another look. Like the monster in a horror film, we only glimpse a second of him before he’s gone, taking a helpless girl with him. From the rumors, you know what fate befalls her.

After his initial appearance, the rest of the tour takes on a more dangerous feel. Did he truly kill the girl he dragged off? When will he appear again? Are you to be his next victim?

For those of you who’ve already experienced the awesomeness of the Dungeon, this segment will not disrupt the show you are used to. Instead, I found the Where’s Jack addition to strengthen an already remarkable attraction. Where else can you experience such an up-close-and-personal play? Visiting the Dungeon is like being granted a backstage pass to the Phantom of the Opera, where you actually get to interact with the characters as if you’ve stepped into the pages of their book. And like the Phantom, Jack the Ripper is out to get you. But beyond that, the realness of the play changes your view from spectator to participant. Instead of, “Oh cool, they rigged a chandelier to swoop over the crowd.” You think, “I might seriously be in danger here. The Ripper just kidnapped the woman standing right next to me, I might be next!”

The historic side of the show actually does have basis in reality. According to Performance Supervisor, Matt Gunther, there were rumors during Jack the Ripper’s lifetime of him coming to San Francisco. “Many people think Jack the Ripper stopped killing in Whitechapel because he came to the United States and this is a port city. Just after that is when we started having these mysterious murders.” Two murders suspected to be the work of Jack in San Francisco were Blanch Lamont and Minnie Williams, which Matt references as inspiration for the new act. Although a medical student, Theo Durrant, was executed for the deaths back in 1898, the evidence that Jack the Ripper committed the crimes is more than just a hunch.VNjkLRjUrnJOOtbLJxlRS2BaSXV9TAwkuPAs0IAGKPI

Even though this was my second time attending in such a short time, it was not boring in the least. In fact, because they rotate actors every time you go, the different actors bring something new to the roles. I was excited to see my favorite ghost of Alcatraz this time cast as the gang lord in the torture chamber. It was awesome to see him in a different role and I was surprised that the Alcatraz ghost bit was still entertaining without him. The new actress brought a whole different feeling to the show. Since they have such a large cast of actors, you could attend multiple times without seeing the same cast in the same roles.

I asked Matt about the Alcatraz show and how when the lights go off, and the actors creep around the cell to appear in a completely different place, you never hear footsteps. Do they train the actors how to walk so the audience doesn’t know where they will appear? “Funny you should say that,” Matt said. “Before your show, I was in there, and I was specifically giving them notes on the footsteps. That’s gratifying to me as a director that you picked up on that.”

Well, Matt and the team are doing a great job at creeping me out and by the reaction of the group I was with, I am not the only one. All I can say is, I can’t wait to see what they cook up next.

If you haven’t seen the San Francisco Dungeon, be sure and check it out. For those of you not in the San Francisco area, they have other Dungeon locations. In fact, the San Francisco installation is the first in the US, but ninth in the world. Other Merlin Entertainment Dungeon locations can be found in Amsterdam, Berlin, Blackpool Tower, Edinburgh, Hamburg, London, Warwick Castle, and York, all using local history to take you on a journey through time.

To hear audio  from Matt and what goes into creating the show, listen to HorrorAddicts.net episode #116, coming July 1st, 2015.

Review: Irish Ghost Stories by Patrick Byrne

In the mood for some fun ghost tales from the wilds of Ireland? Check out Irish Ghost Stories by Patrick Byrne.

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Irish Ghost Stories contains stories that tell of spooky goings-on in almost every part of the country. They include the tales of the Wizard Earl of Kildare, the Scanlan Lights of Limerick, Buttoncap of Antrim, Maynooth College’s haunted room, Loftus Hall in Wexford, and an account of how the poet Fancis Ledwidge appeared to an old friend in County Meath. The country of Ireland is full of old castles with secret rooms, and while some of the stories are obvious figments of lively imaginations, there are other tales that cannot be easily explained.

While many of these stories are quaint hearsay and exaggerated truths, they are fun to read. The location and historical details are interesting and probably mean more to those who live in the area. I especially like to read these aloud during a fireside gathering. They lend themselves to a storytelling sort of atmosphere and are fun to share.

My favorite tales are:

“Murder Hole”, which is a door on a high floor with no outlet but a 50 foot drop to your death.

“Devil’s Horse”, which tells of a late night customer at a blacksmith. When the blacksmith is done, he’s paid in gold and the customer’s cloven feet walk away. After the customer is gone, the blacksmith finds what he thought was gold, is glass.

This book also tells of ladies in white, banshees, and all the fun stuff ghost lovers have come to enjoy.

 

Morbid Meals – Chocolate Coconut Oblivion Cake

EXAMINATION

Death by chocolate seems like a great way to go. My favorite recipe comes from a cookbook called A Taste of Murder. This killer culinary collection was edited by Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl and contains recipes written by authors of mystery novels.

Their recipe to undertake Death by Chocolate basically makes a devil’s food cake by a mix, and adds a package of instant chocolate fudge pudding, and a whole bag of chocolate chips, with sour cream instead of milk. This makes a luscious, deep dark chocolate cake to be sure. By now I’m sure you noticed that I never do anything instant when it comes to Morbid Meals. (If you do make their original recipe, consider using the Sanguinaccio Dolce from episode #103 instead of the instant pudding.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on a restricted diet. Their recipe may not kill me, but I would definitely suffer. So this time, instead of presenting a mundane recipe and offering GF suggestions, I decided to create a completely grain-free recipe. You might even prefer this to a wheat cake. The secret? Coconut!

ANALYSIS

Makes: a two-layer cake

For the cake batter

1 cup softened butter
1 2/3 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
10 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coconut flour (9.75 oz / 275 g)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob powder)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups canned coconut milk
Extra butter to grease the pans
Extra cocoa powder to dust the pans

For the ganache

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup canned coconut cream

For the frosting

1/2 cup softened butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (or carob powder)

Apparatus

  • Two 9-inch (or 8-inch) layer cake pans
  • Electric mixer or hand mixer/beater
  • Two mixing bowls

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease up both layer cake pans with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar; cream together for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed.
  3. Set the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Add the vanilla extract then beat at high speed for about 3 minutes.
  5. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Now add the milk and mix thoroughly for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the wet flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat together at high speed for about 5 minutes.
  7. Split the cake batter into each cake pan.
  8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F.
  9. Remove the cake pans to a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before removing the cake layers from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

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Making the ganache

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut cream over high heat until it begins to simmer, but stop before boiling. Remove from heat.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and let the chocolate melt in the cream, stirring occasionally until incorporated completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Making the frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar; cream together for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed.
  2. Add cocoa powder and beat to combine well. Continue to beat the frosting until it forms high peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Assembling the cake

  1. On a serving platter or cake stand, lay the first layer down.
  2. Spread the ganache on the top of this layer, as thick as you can. If you want a lighter filling, beat with mixer until fluffy before spreading it on.
  3. Lay the second layer cake gently on top. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the full cake.

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DISSECTION

Since this recipe is made with coconut flour, substitutions are impractical with other flours; even almond meal doesn’t work out quite the same. So if you don’t like coconut or are allergic, grab a box cake and enjoy with my apologies.

As it happens, it is less expensive and quite easy to make your own coconut milk and coconut flour. Just know that if you do decide to make your own coconut flour, you will need to do that a day before you make the cake, as you must dehydrate the coconut for at least 8 hours.

If you are avoiding dairy, you can definitely substitute coconut/palm shortening for the butter in the cake and frosting. Do not use coconut oil; even solidified it becomes oil too quickly and then will not cream properly.

POST-MORTEM

This cake can be made as described as a double layer cake or as a bundt cake, but in that case simply dust it with some powdered sugar then drizzle the ganache on top and skip the frosting.

This cake is moist, tender, and full of rich chocolately goodness to die for. It can be a little gritty, but the ganache and frosting tends to make up for this. Your grain-free / Paleo friends will thank you.

Shock, 1946

How would you react if you looked out a window and saw someone murdered? Would you scream, would you call the police, or would you find yourself in shock?

The film Shock, gives us an insight into one of the possibilities to my queries.  One Janet Steward (Anabel Shaw) is staying at a hotel and she hears a loud argument taking place.  As most people would,  she takes a moment to look and see what the heated argument is about. She witnesses a horrific sight as she sees a man murder a woman.  Janet is later found by her war veteran husband in a complete comatose state.  She is taken to a mental hospital where she will find herself treated by Dr. Richard Cross, played by Vincent Price.

Fans of Vincent Price will automatically come to see him as the villain in this film as most know that was the type of role he was best known for.  Shock is a film that will not disappoint Price’s fans as we get to see a master of his art portray his character in a great way.

We get to watch as this masterful actor finds ways to make all those attached to Janet believe she has truly lost her mind.  Dr. Cross is aided on this quest by Nurse Elaine Jordan (Lynn Bari) who just happens to be the good doctor’s lover.

Shock has a short running time that modern movie viewers may not care for, but even with it’s shorten span, the film packs a great punch.  The film is a thrilling twisted tale as we get to witness what the good doctor is able to get away with, within his own asylum.  The rest of the cast also turn in some great roles and that includes actor Frank Latimore who plays Janet’s husband, Lt. Paul Stewart.

Vincent Price fans will greatly appreciate this film as it captures Price at the peak of his acting career.  Those who love psychological thrillers will also find the film quite engrossing.  Another factor is that we get an idea of some of the old medical practices that were used to treat those with psychological issues.  It is one of these methods that help to bring the movie to a climax, but not quite to the ending.  As any Price film, the film ends in such away you may find yourself asking questions.