Title: Safer at Home – a Ghost Story
Author: Zoe Cannon
Publication Date: July 4, 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary
Length: 41 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 5 Stars
Quarantined in a haunted house…
March 2020. With the world in the grip of a deadly pandemic, Ben is locked down in his brand-new house, with nothing to keep him company but his chessboard and the boxes he still hasn’t unpacked. Or so he thinks.
But he’s not alone. Before this was Ben’s house, it was hers. And the dark spirit will do whatever it takes to keep him inside. If he doesn’t find a way out, Ben will stay locked down… forever.
But which is more dangerous? The ghost in the house… or the virus outside?
This short story is 14,000 words long, or approximately 40 pages. It is a companion story to Second Wave. These stories stand alone and can be read in any order.
Content Warning: Covid-19, domestic violence, murder, and blood. I will be discussing these things briefly in my review.
Sometimes the only thing scarier than Covid-19 is staying home to avoid it.
One of the benefits of setting this story during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 had to do with how it affected Ben’s reaction when he realized that others had been telling the truth when they warned him about his new home being haunted. This is a typical weak spot in the average paranormal tale in my experience. Most characters should have a reasonable chance of finding other accommodations upon learning something like this, but Ben genuinely had no where else to go due to the lockdown order as well as some other excellent reasons that I’ll allow other readers to discover for themselves. I appreciated seeing how his options were logically whittled down as he worked through all of the possible means of escape.
Some of my favourite scenes involved Ben’s reactions to common tropes in the paranormal and horror genres. His self awareness was a breath of fresh air, especially when he took the time to puzzle out why certain actions were so dangerous and what alternatives, if any, he might have while battling a violent ghost alone in a mostly-empty house. He was an intelligent and resourceful character whose decisions generally made a great deal of sense. That’s something I always like to see in this genre.
The domestic violence subplot was well done. It pushed this tale much further into the horror genre than it probably would have otherwise gone, but I totally understood the author’s reasons for going there and going into as much detail about the physical and emotional damage that abusers do to their victims. I liked the fact that the author made his point subtly on this topic. He definitely had a strong message to send about this topic, but he did so in a way that fit the tone of his tale smoothly and gave the audience plenty of opportunities to put the pieces of what he had to say together for ourselves. There was no sermonizing here or anything like that which was refreshing.
Safer at Home – a Ghost Story is the perfect paranormal read for anyone who loves spooky fiction.
Great review! I don’t know if I’m ready for a scary story about COVID 19 right now. But, it’s intriguing.
And I totally don’t blame you there. It took me a long time to be ready for this story myself. It sat in my queue for almost a year.
I hope you find something more your speed. 🙂