Tag Archives: Horror

Solitary Fear: A Review of Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk

Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk by Frank Cowper. Image on cover is of a sinking ship and a ominous skull in the sky watching it. The telling or reading of ghost stories during the Christmas season was once a tradition in Victorian England. This series of books seeks to revive this tradition. Beginning this year, I hope to review all of them during the month of December for as many years as it takes to finish this project. 

Title: Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk – A Ghost Story for Christmas (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Author: Frank Cowper

Publisher: Biblioasis

Publication Date: 1925 and 2018

Genres: Paranormal, Historical

Length: 64 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Reading a ghost story on Christmas Eve was once as much a part of traditional Christmas celebrations as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus.

When he finds an abandoned duck punt on Christmas Eve, a hunter rows out into the marsh and comes across a shipwreck. He climbs aboard to explore—and finds himself trapped when a surge snaps the mooring line and his punt floats away. Sleep eludes him, and soon he discovers that he’s not the only one trapped on the derelict ship.

Review:

Content warning: claustrophobic setting. I will not be discussing this in my review.

This tale was set in an era when the social classes were much more divided than they are these days. That is to say, it was a terrible faux pas to befriend people from lower or upper classes. Since the lonely, financially secure main characters lived in an economically depressed area, this essentially meant that they could hire their neighbours to work for them but could never invite them over for something sociable like dinner.

I love being near all sorts of bodies of water, but they can be melancholy places in disagreeable weather. The thought of purposefully going out exploring in a chilly, watery environment on Christmas Eve made me shake my head and wonder what on Earth the protagonist was thinking.

With that being said, the protagonist’s impulsivity and willingness to take unnecessary risks was exactly what this plot needed to push it forward. He was someone I soon grew to like quite a bit even while shaking my head at his total disregard for his own safety.

The eerie thing about this haunting was that it happened in total darkness after the main character accidentally got trapped on the abandoned ship. Imagine hearing frightening sounds, having no way to discover what was making them, and not being able to move out of fear of walking the wrong way and falling through rotten, gap-filled lumber into a freezing sea!

That imagery alone was what earned this story a horror rating. It wasn’t gory at all, but it sure was horrifying.

 

Creepy Christmas Poems

Christmas wreath with a Santa placard saying "Merry Christmas" hung from it. The wreath is hung on a slightly ominious black door.
The spookiest Christmas stock photo I could find.

Someone, or possibly more than one person, keeps finding this blog by searching for creepy Christmas poems.

If they ever read this post, I hope they know it was written in direct response to the multiple queries that have popped up in my analytics.

I more or less stopped celebrating Christmas years ago when I moved far away from home, deconverted from my childhood religion, accepted a job in an industry that was always busy and stressful in December, and found myself overwhelmed by the sentimentality and consumerism of secular Christmas.

Now I sound like a grumpy character at the beginning of a Christmas movie who is about to learn a valuable life lesson, but that’s honestly not how I think about this holiday at all.

I enjoy the lights, food, and music that is traditionally shared now, and I cheer for everyone who finds meaning in the other aspects of Christmas (and/or any other winter holiday) as well.

I simply know what my limits are. Luckily, those limits include creepy Christmas poems when new readers show up here looking for them. Here are some poems that celebrate Christmas without a single ounce of sentimentality.

A Christmas Ghost Story by Thomas Hardy

Yule Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

Scary Christmas by Donald R. Wolff JR

Christmas Ghost by Andrew Green

Christmas Poems (That Won’t Make You Throw Up) by various authors

Holiday Horror: A True Story by Lucy Giardino Cortese

Merry Christmas from the Void (an analysis of three H.P. Lovecraft poems)

Merry Christmas by Langston Hughes (scroll down to read it).

 

Which creepy Christmas poems would you add to this list?

Stained Property: A Review of The Red Lodge

Book cover for H.R. Wakefield's The Red Lodge. Image on cover shows a lodge on a hill. The sky behind it is red and either sun or moon is half-behind the house.

The telling or reading of ghost stories during the Christmas season was once a tradition in Victorian England. This series of books seeks to revive this tradition. Beginning this year, I hope to review all of them during the month of December for as many years as it takes to finish this project. 

Title: The Red Lodge – A Ghost Story for Christmas (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Author: H.R. Wakefield

Publisher: Biblioasis

Publication Date: 1928 and 2018

Genres: Paranormal, Historical

Length: 32 pages

Source: I borrowed it from the library

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

Reading a ghost story on Christmas eve was once as much a part of traditional Christmas celebrations as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus.

The Red Lodge is a magnificent Queen Anne house, the ideal rental for a young family on a much-needed holiday. But something is wrong at the Red Lodge. What caused the drownings of so many previous occupants? What dark presence lurks in the river? Why has the son grown sullen and afraid?

Review:

Some places are too evil for human occupancy.

One of the most fascinating things about living in or visiting an old house is researching the former owners and what their lives were like. Generally, this sort of search yields pretty mundane results, but as you’ve probably already gathered this isn’t one of those occasions. I won’t go into details about how and why The Red Lodge became such a restless and malevolent place, but that backstory really made the plight of the newest occupants even more poignant.

The narrator of this tale deeply loved wife and his young son, so it struck me as odd to see how quickly he brushed away their anxiety about living at The Red Lodge. Change is hard for everyone, so I would have understood if he hadn’t listened the first couple of times. It did feel weird to have a six-year-old and a cherished wife talk about odd things happening in their home and change their habits as a result of them without the father and husband taking note of that. I sure would have liked to have a clearer explanation for whether this was a common occurrence in their family or if the spirit had already begun to warp the main character’s perspective so early on.

While this wasn’t a gory story, there were definitely some awful things that happened at the lodge. I appreciated the way the author hinted at how folks died there instead of describing it in elaborate detail. This was definitely one of those cases where less was more, especially given how reluctant folks would have been to discuss this sort of thing in the 1920s in general.

If you think a property can be stained beyond all hope of repair from the awful things that happened on it, I’d recommend checking out The Red Lodge.

Flickering Hope: A Review of Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel

Book cover for Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel by Seth Tucker. Black and white image on cover is of a large house on an overcast, winter day. Title: Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel

Author: Seth Tucker

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 25, 2013

Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Historical

Length: 27 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

A murder in Whitechapel is not uncommon, but the state of the body requires someone more adept at unusual crime than Scotland Yard. Richard Rex, agent of the Queen, must track down this supernatural killer. Can he find it before it claims more victims?

Review:

How would you fight a monster whose speciality was hunting down folks just like you?

The world building was so well done in this story that after a few scenes I assumed I’d accidentally wandered into the middle of a series. While this didn’t seem to be the case after all, I was still impressed with how much detail the author packed into what this supernatural version of London was like as well as what his characters had been up to months and even years before the first scene began. It was thrilling to learn about this world. At times I forgot I was reading altogether because of how absorbed I was in what might happen next!

My first impression of Richard also turned out to be incorrect.  He felt a little too good to be true when I first met him, and I briefly wondered if he was exaggerating his kind deeds to the audience a bit to win us over. I soon realized that his wholesome image was legitimate. While he was a certainly a man of his time, especially when it came to how he interacted with people who didn’t share his station in life, those scenes only endeared me to him more. He wasn’t a perfect man by any means, but he was an admirable one.

The ending was everything I hoped it would be and more. I enjoyed the way Mr. Tucker tied up all of the important loose ends in this case while also leaving room for a sequel. Based on how much work he put into creating Richard and the other characters, my fingers are crossed that someday I’ll get to read more about them. There certainly seemed to be plenty of material to work with when it came to the lives they’d built so far as well as the hopefully wonderful things that might await them in the future.

Richard Rex & the Succubus of Whitechapel was a rollocking good time. If anything in this review tickled your fancy, do give it a try!

Suburban Gothic: A Review of The House on Abigail Lane

Book cover for The House on Abigail Lane by Kealan Patrick Burke. Image on cover is of a house that has all of its windows illuminated by light on a dark night. It is sitting next to a garden filled with sunflowers, one of which has a human-like eye in the centre of it staring straight ahead at the reader. Title: The House on Abigail Lane

Author: Kealan Patrick Burke

Publisher: Elderlemon Press (Self-Published)

Publication Date: June 17, 2020

Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary

Length: 68 pages

Source: I bought it.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

From the outside, it looks like an ordinary American home, but since its construction in 1956, people have vanished as soon as they go upstairs, the only clues the things they leave behind: a wedding ring, a phone…an eye.

In its sixty-year history, a record number of strange events have been attributed to the house, from the neighbors waking up to find themselves standing in the yard outside, to the grieving man who vanished before a police officer’s eyes. The animals gathering in the yard as if summoned. The people who speak in reverse. The lights and sounds. The music. The grass dying overnight…and the ten-foot clown on the second floor.

And as long as there are mysteries, people will be compelled to solve them.

Here, then, is the most comprehensive account of the Abigail House phenomenon, the result of sixty years of eyewitness accounts, news reports, scientific research, and parapsychological investigations, all in an attempt to decode the enduring mystery that is…

…THE HOUSE ON ABIGAIL LANE.

Review:

Evil comes in many forms.

This short story was heavily plot driven. The mystery of why people from many different walks of life kept disappearing at Abigail House permeated every scene, and it didn’t give away any hints about what the answer may be at first. I liked the fact that the audience was left in the dark in the beginning. It made the last few scenes even more exciting.

While I definitely wasn’t expecting the characters to have quiet, introspective moments, I do wish I’d gotten to know them better. There were times when it was hard for me to emotionally connect with the latest poor soul who found themselves working, visiting, or living at this location because of how quickly the house cycled through its victims. No sooner were they introduced than many of them met their fates.

I’m saying that as someone who was deliciously terrified of this setting. Few things are more frightening to me than a place where horrible things happen for reasons that none of the characters have yet to figure out nd therefore have no way to predict or prevent. Had I been able to bond with at least some of the victims, this would have been the perfect read for this horror fan.

If there’s anything about the suburbs that gives you a gnawing sense of discomfort, The House on Abigail Lane might help to explain why.

Never the Same Again: A Review of The Cured

Content warning: Blood, violence, the death of a child, mental illness, and trauma. I will be mentioning these topics in my review. The Cured is a 2017 Irish horror drama about former zombies being reintegrated into society after being cured of their disease. While there are some violent scenes in it, this film is much more… Read More

Unlikely Gleaning: A Review of Harvest

I’d like to thank Berthold Gambrel for reviewing this book and bringing it to my attention. Title: Harvest – A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch Author: Jason H. Abbott Publisher: Blue Boar Press Publication Date: October 7, 2019 Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical, Holidays Length: 19 pages Source: I received a free copy from the… Read More

Dodging Doppelgängers: A Review of Us

Content warning: mental illness, blood, violence, and trauma. Us is a 2019 American horror film about a family who was terrorized by their doppelgängers while they were on what was supposed to be a peaceful beach vacation. It was directed by Jordan Peele, the same director who released Get Out in 2017. This is one… Read More

Love and Regret: A Review of The Curse of La Llorona

Content warning: deaths of children. I will be discussing this in my review.  The Curse of La Llorona is an American 2019 supernatural horror film set in 1973 about a mother who tries to save her children from a malevolent spirit who is trying to keep them for herself. La Llorona, or The Weeping Woman, is… Read More

Satirical Thanksgiving: A Review of Addams Family Values

Content warning: Childbirth and dark humour. I will go into detail about the latter in this review.  Addams Family Values is a 1993 fantasy comedy film about a macabre but loving family who is trying to rescue their uncle from his new girlfriend who has a dark past and may have ulterior motives for dating… Read More