October 30, 2012
While horror movies are all fine and good for this time of the year, nothing really tops a good book in a dark room while you’re wrapped in a blanket. To that end, I picked up a copy of Specter Spectacular and read through it to get my ghost story fix on.
The stories range from the witty to the macabre, so there’s something for everyone. Those stories that go for creeps certainly deliver on this promise. “Alabaster” has a suitably atmospheric cabin in the woods and a mysterious location, as does “The Little House at Bull Run Creek” with its abandoned Southern manor and mysterious noises. The beginning story, “My Rest a Stone,” has a suitably creepy child narrating the events on a life boat as everyone loses his or her mind.
The stories that really handled description well were my favorites. Horror is all about putting yourself in the characters’ situation, empathizing to the point where you actually
Perhaps my favorite story, however, was “Death and Taxes,” about a ghost desperate to be scary. The very British humor would not have been out of place in a Monty Python sketch, and while I may have been thinking Harry Potter, I could very much picture John Cleese as Jeck, the hapless ghost. On the other end of things, “Wendigo” was very subtle and had wonderful characters to latch on to, as well as a story that was equal parts unsettling and sad.
As far as ghost stories and scary tales go, few of the entries in the anthology actually gave me chills. Then again, I’ve been pretty desensitized to those sorts of things and it takes a lot to scare or creep me out. That’s not to say, though, that this is a terrible thing.
Some stories also felt forced. “The Haunts of Albert Einstein,” for example, felt like more of an overtly-long description instead of a story. There were other missed opportunities for great stories. For example, “The Secret of Echo Cottage” was all about a World War II site that was now a home to a pregnant couple. The final twist in the end was obvious, at least to me, but by playing with those expectations, each story could have easily been something different and much more subtle.
The Final Word
While it didn’t give me nightmares, it certainly was fun to read. I enjoyed the patchwork of stories and styles and many of the stories, especially the funny ones, were a good change of pace. If there’s a sequel, I’m defiantly buying it.
Overall, a good read. 8 out of 10.
You can pick up a copy here and see what others have said.
And speaking of ghost stories, let’s see if the remake of Evil Dead is any good. It has all the players behind the camera, but I still think it needs Ash. Tell me what you think in the comments below.