Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror
Edited by Monica Valentinelli
Drive Through Fiction
142 pages, October 2011
Review by Darkeva
Table of Contents
- Introduction by Jaeson K. Jrakman, Ghost Hunter
- What’s the Frequency, Francis? by Alex Bledsoe
- Immaterial Witness by Jess Hartley
- Useless Creek by Jason Sizemore
- A Quiet House in the Country by Bill Bodden
- Ghost Catcher by Georgia Beaverson
- We Need Johnny by Chuck Wendig
- After Life by Nancy O. Greene
- It Happened in the Woods at Night by Jason L. Blair
- The Man Who Built Haunted Houses by Richard Dansky
- Missing Molly by Alana Joli Abbott
- The Angry Stick by Preston P. DuBose
- Editor’s Afterword by Monica Valentinelli
Ghost hunting isn’t something that most people think of as a career, but there are people out there who solicit these types of services legitimately. They’re not just the stuff of horror fiction and films any longer, as attested by ghost hunter Jaeson K. Jrakman in his introduction. Daniel Defoe even wrote a book on the subject called The Secrets of the Invisible World Disclos’d in 1735. Still, whether the stories are true or made up, they make for great entertainment, and Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror is no exception.
In “What’s the Frequency?” by Alex Bledsoe, a TV reporter who works for a show called Ghost Chasers is asking a museum assistant curator to explain what a particular device he’s researching does. Sir Francis Colby’s diaries hold the answer, and the narrative goes into a “story within a story” structure that reveals the origins of the device. Dr Pugh (who used to be sane but has since gone the way of Dracula’s Renfield) invented it to communicate with his dead wife, but other spirits try to take advantage of this for their own purposes. It’s a great story with a few twists and turns with a philosophical ending.
“Immaterial Witness” by Jess Hartley concerns Jackson Mane, who hosts a program called Revenant in Bisbee, Arizona, which some people consider the most haunted town in the Southwestern US. He has invited a ghost tour guide who can see ghosts, Liz, to see his ghost-o-meter, but its sole aim is not to detect ghosts. I liked seeing a story with a helpful ghost instead of just the vengeful kind (both of which are represented here).
“Ulysses Creek” by Jason Sizemore is about a professor who encounters a dishevelled low-life of a guy who knows everything about his past, including about his deceased wife. It was refreshing to see a professor who didn’t fit the conventional ‘stiff upper lip’ stereotype, and this tale had a cool ending.
“A Quiet House in the Country” by Bill Bodden is about a group of ghost hunters who go into a haunted house and think there may be a poltergeist at play, and there is indeed a creature causing harm to the team, while “Ghost Catcher” by Georgia Beaverson was probably my favourite tale among the bunch. In it, a ten year-old kid, Alex, has a sixth sense, but he’s a lot more comical about it. His mother advertises on craigslist, and he’s pretty professional about how he accepts jobs. He uses his best judgment in most cases, and in this story, decides to help a nineteen year-old guy who thinks he’s being haunted, and he is, but there’s an interesting reason behind it.
“We Need Johnny” by Chuck Wendig is about a guy named Johnny who, on a hunt with his teammates, got “marked” by a ghost. His teammates have a nefarious plan to find out what’s going on with the spirits on the other side, and it results in an impactful ending.
“Afterlife” by Nancy O. Greene is about a group of students on spring break who are making a documentary about the scariest haunted places in their backwoods neighborhood, specifically Old Day Man’s House, a house in which a murderous old man lived. The main character, Daniel, tries to convince his fellow documentary makers that no spirits will come for them and that they’re just superstitious. While I originally thought the story was just another case of the standard teen horror flick staple of “teenagers get more than they bargained for when messing with ghosts they shouldn’t trifle with,” I was pleasantly surprised to find clever storytelling, a good ending, and good characterization for the Old Day Ghost. I also enjoyed this tale a good deal.
“It Happened in the Woods at Night” by Jason Blair reveals how the devil buried Curtis Holling as a favor to the boy’s mother. Three boys murdered Curtis, and although vengeance is laid, the devil has some interesting plans for Curtis’ soul, which results in an interesting ending and another cool depiction of the devil despite his brief appearance.
“The Man Who Built Haunted Houses” by Richard Dansky marks the second appearance of the Devil in the anthology, and concerns a man, Eli, who works for the man in the red suit. He meets another guy, Jack Broadman, who becomes interested in the fact that Eli builds haunted houses and does it to protect ghosts so they have a place to stay.
“Missing Molly” by Alana Joli Abbot is all about Wes, a former soldier looking for a roommate, which he finds in Angie, a secretive science/military type who invites him into her ghost hunting work for a case. One works like Sherlock Holmes, the other like Watson, and they discover that ectoplasm is the remains from when a ghost tries to cross over, kind of a cool concept.
“The Angry Stick” by Preston P. Dubose is also another of my favourites, this one about a guy, Adam, who goes to a bar called the Angry Stick. We soon learn that he has come here to warn another ghost hunter he knows from forums about her workplace, which is haunted. But he comes with his own baggage in the form of the ghost of his ex-girlfriend, who communicates to him beyond the grave, and is as jealous and paranoid as ever. Although I saw the lead-up to the climax coming, it still delivered a satisfying tale.
Overall, if you’re a real ghost fan or like the shows Supernatural or Ghost Whisperer, you’ll likely enjoy Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror