So, I’ve had this sitting on my kindle for a while now, and I’m quite partial to a good ghost story. I absolutely love hauntings, ghosts, and anything supernatural. So I figured now was as good a time as any to get stuck into this anthology, which features four short stories from horror author, Carrie Bates. Plus it helps me push for more books finished on my Goodreads log hahahaha. So the following is a review for each of the four stories featured in this set.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Actual rating of 3.5 stars.
The story opens in 1942, and we meet a nervous, hermit of a cardinal who doesn’t sleep well. He is startled from his regular night’s pacing by urgent knocking at his door. Reluctantly he answers it, which leads to his untimely demise. Fast forward to 2017 and we meet Ben, a 50-something year old widower who works at St. Doyle Seminary in America. He’s not religious at all, but has enjoyed his life while he’s been the cook at the seminary, however, all that begins to change when his normal feelings of creepiness are proven to have weight. There’s a darkness in the seminary, and it’s set it’s sights on Ben.
This was an incredibly quick read, but I feel that it was the perfect length for the story itself. Bates is able to give the reader a depth to her characters that normally in something this short, would be difficult, however, she absolutely nails it! The supernatural side of things is done well, we get backstory, reason, and a definite creep factor instilled from her descriptions. Bate’s does a great job of really letting the reader FEEL Ben’s loneliness and isolation, feeling like he has no one that he can be honest with.
And that ending? Wow. So well done for such a short horror read. I actually bought the collection of four of her stories off Kindle, 1 down, 3 to go! I hope the others are just as good!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This story opens in the 1920s, at the docks as a ship is waiting to sail on with it’s passengers and crew. We meet Madame Catherine Bordeaux, a beautiful woman who stands apart from the crowd, travelling alone. The manifests say that the devil doctor, Dr. McMillan, is the one funding her trip after what he put her through. We then quickly find out that Madame Bordeaux is not everything she seemed, in the slightest. We are then catapulted into 2017, following the story of a crew member called Judy. She begins to see strange things on the ship, that have to do with the infamous Devil Doctor from the 1920s. Are they as harmless as she hopes they are? Or is there something more sinister waiting to happen?
This one is probably my favourite out of this anthology. There was a lot of ghosts, and it was quite violent, which added to the massive creep factor. This story actually creeped me out a lot. Something about bodies in the boiler room and a mad doctor thinking that he’s doing the science world a favour, just sends chills down my spine. I also really enjoyed the character of Judy, she was incredibly likable, which just made the ending even more gut wrenching than it probably would have been had the character been a dickhead.
Once again, high praises must be sung for Bates’ ability to make her characters more than two dimensional in such a short amount of pages. A super quick read, with creepy characters, a likable protagonist, that also proves that not all of the best endings are happy ones.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This story opens in 1915, where we meet Wyatt Harper, who funnily enough, is the current owner of Harper House. We learn that he was a mortician, who was only ever seen replenishing supplies at the mortician’s shop in nearby Providence. He was orphaned after his parents were killed by their horse after it went mad.
Fast forward to 2017 and we meet Blake, also a mortician, who is about to start a new job in Providence. She has purchased the Harper House and is excited at the prospect of having her own space, with no roommates in sight. That is until strange things start occurring in the house and she finds out that maybe it’s not as cracked up as it first seemed to be.
Once again, a short horror story, heavily rooted in the paranormal, read – ghosts. This one is probably my least favourite thus far out of the set of four that I’m reading right now. I have one left to go. I found my eyes wandering and a little bit bored of the story at times, but this may be because it’s the third one I’ve read, in a row, in the last 15 hours.
I do have to once again praise Bates on her ability to make her characters real in such short stories, this can be an incredibly hard feat, but Bates is able to do it time and time again as she’s proven through her numerous short horror stories. There was a little creep factor in this one, but it didn’t give me the heeby jeebies like the previous one “The haunting of Skye Ocean Liner”. I’m a sucker for a ghost story which was what originally drew me to these quick reads, that, and the fact that they are exactly that – quick reads. So if you like a simple ghost story, where you don’t really need to think, with a bit of creep factor, give these a go.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Actual rating of 3.5
This story does not shy away from the horrors of abuse and neglect of a child in the slightest. The opening of the story is set in around 1849, where the spinster daughter of Mr. Mansfield now lives in Mansfield Mansion along with his illegitimate son, whom he fathered with a servant. It is no secret that his daughter despises the boy, and she inflicts great pain and suffering on him.
In the present day, a single mother on the run with her two sons, Ken and Bobby, has bought Mansfield Mansion in the hopes that they can finally have the life she always dreamed of for them. One where they have enough food for the whole week, and there is no longer a need to ration out their meager spoils, one where her sons and her are safe, and far away from her abusive ex and his cronies. Things start to look up for them, that is, until strange things start happening in the house that is putting mum and boys at risk. Is it ghosts of past residences? Or is it her husband who has found her and wants to terrorize her once more?
A very quick read that, as said above, doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of abuse and neglect. I found myself rooting for Debbie and her sons, silently hoping that everything would be okay and that this poor family, who had been through SO much, would finally get their fresh start. Once again, I must say, the characters were written incredibly well, and I felt endeared to them from the start. Bates’ way of really making you feel for her characters is unrivaled. There was a little creep factor as well with the happenings of the house too.
I found myself wishing that the story was fleshed out more so we could learn more about the history of the house and it’s previous family, and that we could see what happened with Dave further down the line, as well as the boys. I really felt for this family. I found the ending a little anticlimactic, but at the same time, I was happy with it, for reasons you’ll understand when you read the story.