Spellbound is a collection of otherworldly stories. I can’t truly call them horror because, for me, not all of them qualify. As usual with anthologies there were hits and misses.
Spellbound at Midnight– Viole Godin, a gifted architectural reconstructionist, has accepted a dream job with the firm Belle Maison in New Orleans.
When Grande Dame Marie Verrett comes to meet with Viole regarding plans to restore Magnolia House she’s accompanied by her grandsons, Lucien and Charles. Both are handsome Southern gentlemen but Viole knows there’s more than meets the eye with all of them.
New Orleans itself, the history, atmosphere of decaying gentility, and traditions play a large part in Spellbound at Midnight. Heavier on Viole and Lucien’s attraction and potential relationship and lighter on the otherworldly, Spellbound at Midnight was an entertaining ghost/love story.
Room 1309.5– Monica Krieger hasn’t become a successful management consultant by being nice; brutal and cut-throat would be more apropos. It’s not her fault she has more spine than some men. Case in point Ted Langley; he cried when the board forced him out! Her evaluation was just the messenger of his failure. Now she’s on her way to a pitch her services to a company in Las Vegas; a very wealthy company judging from the Bentley she’s riding in and the unique casino the driver delivers her to.
Beginning with the phone call to Monica in the Bentley I felt a sense of foreboding. The feeling only got stronger after she arrived at the casino. With every word my trepidation increased exponentially. When Monica arrives at her room, I knew for certain what was coming but it didn’t stop the feeling, in fact it climbed even higher. Wow…
Poe fans will especially appreciate this excellent story.
Mansion of Nightmares– Our narrator is Patrick, a twenty-year-old who has lived in his small town in Southeastern Pennsylvania his whole life. Like every small town there’s a haunted house. Patrick talks his friend Brian into exploring the old haunted house; changing everything.
Mansion of Nightmares fell short of the promising beginning. The narration dragged and I didn’t buy the “why” the house was haunted; it just rang false to me.
Uncle Vernon– Alison is Gary’s girlfriend. She finally works up the nerve to stay the night at his house, the huge old house left to his mother that’s falling apart around them. Gary’s room has a missing window pane and a huge hole in the floor, the part of the floor that’s over the front door. Gary’s family is a tad eccentric to say the least. Alison thought she’d met everyone until she meets Uncle Vernon on the back stairs. Uncle Vernon isn’t eccentric, he’s flat out creepy.
The scariest part of Uncle Vernon, to begin with, is the house. I got shudders just thinking about staying there. The creep quotient goes up once we meet Uncle Vernon.
Uncle Vernon has come for the eve of All Souls Day. He returns home every year at this time to perform his ritual; will this be the year it pays off? Horrified pretty well describes my reaction to the end of Uncle Vernon.
Half Seen Half Hidden– Mason Oliver is tooling along the highway in a van reminiscent of the Mystery Machine, collecting an odd assortment of people the way some collect strays. Mason is on his way to a cabin he goes to every year. His companions are given the option to go with him or stay in the town; surprisingly they all opt to go with him. Mason doesn’t know it but this year’s stay at the cabin is going to be very different.
Half Seen Half Hidden opens with the sheriff and his men surveying the carnage at an isolated cabin. Through much of the story I was being led down the primrose path. Nice twists and turns make this an interesting and different shifter tale well worth the read.
Ghost Taxi– Our narrator is visiting Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami, Fla. while waiting on her fiancé Leonardo who’s coming in for a medical convention in Fort Lauderdale. South Beach is one of her favorite places in the world and she’s sure Leonardo will love it, too. They plan to marry on the beach and maybe they’ll have their reception at Versace mansion. There’s just one little secret she hasn’t shared with Leonardo; she can see ghosts, and boy are there a lot of ghosts at South Beach!
Ghost Taxi isn’t your typical ghost story it’s a unique ghostly love story. Think Ghost with a delightfully imaginative twist or two. A fun and charming read.
Telltale Signs– Kate Elliot is living her dream. She’s landed a job as assistant curator of Dark Lake North Museum and launching her first big event; Ghosts of a Mining Town. Eerie artifacts, unexplained occurrences, and ghostly encounters are the center of the exhibition set to open on Halloween. She’s been working furiously with her student volunteers to make this a success. There are a million and one little details to be attended to before opening, that’s why she’s going to be there alone on Halloween Eve. Kate doesn’t believe in ghosts but that belief is about to be challenged.
Telltale Signs is the scariest love story included. In the past the Dark Lake North Museum was a private home and later a nursing home, it’s also an incredibly creepy place to be alone at night. No need to worry, her hunky firefighter boyfriend Harley is a call away, or so Kate thinks. Kate experiences a multitude of terrifyingly spine chilling events and manifestations. Is this really happening or is her sanity in question? Will Harley rescue Kate before she totally loses it? You’ll just have to read Telltale Signs for yourself to find out.
The Origin of Fear– Daryl talks his friends Sam, Nikki, and Marie into breaking into the haunted house on the private island, known to the locals as Cairn Island because of the number of deaths, in the middle of a man-made lake. None of the locals will talk about the house or Latham’s Landing, the real name of the island. Daryl wants to do research for his paper on the origins of fear. If he’s lucky he can turn this into a dissertation. Latham’s Landing is the real thing according to all the websites devoted to haunted places. Numerous deaths have been associated with the house and island. Hands down it’s the best place to research fear.
The Origin of Fear scared the devil out of me. Nothing was as I believed it to be.
The Origin of Fear is frightening and ingenious; even though I was scared I couldn’t quit reading. I absolutely had to find out what happened. I did like how it ended on the island, didn’t see that coming at all but was pleased as punch with it. Habitual horror readers might not be as effected as I was but there’s no way to tell unless they read it. Bbbrrrr, I’m getting chills just remembering it.
The two standout stories for me were Room 1309.5 and The Origin of Fear; the former for its excellent use of atmosphere, so reminiscent of Poe, and the latter because it flat scared the bejeezus out of me.
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