Tag Archives: Horror

Lost but Not Alone: A Review of Boo and the Boy 

Boo and the Boy - A Ghost Story by Wayne Barrett book cover. Image on cover shows drawing of a large bison skull with a fairy perched on top of it. Inside of the skull is the silhoutte of a young person walking in the desert by a cactus.Title: Boo and the Boy – A Ghost Story

Author: Wayne Barrett

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 23, 2020

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary 

Length: 24 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author. 

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

In the heart of the Mojave Desert, a little boy wanders, lost and frightened. Coming upon a giant bison skull, he makes a discovery that turns his fear into a night of magic. 

A ghost, fairies, and a talking rattlesnake bring an atmosphere of fantasy to this haunting tale. Boo and the Boy is a ghost story, but it is one that will not only tug at your heartstrings, but will bring a smile to your face as well. 

Join Boo and the Boy at their haunted home, a skull that, in ages past, belonged to the granddaddy of all bison’s.

Review:

Every haunting exists for a reason even if that reason isn’t immediately revealed. 

As soon as I met Boo, I was instantly endeared to him. Since he didn’t remember anything about his life before began haunting the giant bison skull, everything I learned about him was based on his kind, curious personality. He truly cared about others, and he showed his feelings in gestures both grand and small. There was no limit to what he’d do to help someone who seemed to be in trouble even though his powers were limited as a ghost who was firmly bound to such a small area of land. 

The world building was lovely. At first I thought we’d get a better understanding of what the fairies were hoping to accomplish. While some of their motives were eventually explained, I ended up really liking the fact that there were unanswered questions there as well. I had enough hints to form my own hypothesis, and the rest I could chalk up to the unpredictable nature of fairies in general. This struck me as something quite true to their species, especially since they honestly did seem to have good intentions in the end. 

I also appreciated the friendships between Boo, the boy, and Alfred. While I can’t go into much detail about the identities of those last two characters for spoiler reasons, I can say that their personalities complemented each other nicely. They had much more in common than I would have originally guessed. Discovering what those things were was delightful. 

Don’t be frightened by the horror tag if it’s not a genre you typically read. Yes, there is an underbelly to this tale that will gradually be revealed, but nothing about it was gory or gross. In fact, there was something surprisingly sweet about this portion of the storyline in the end. 

Boo and the Boy was a hauntingly beautiful ghost story that I heartily recommend to adult and young adult readers alike. 

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

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… Read More

Suburban Gothic: A Review of The House on Abigail Lane

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… Read More

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