To Scoff or Not to Scoff: A Review on Jay Anson’s “The Amityville Horror”

Book Reviews, For Book Lovers, Horror

There are definitely clashing opinions on this book, evident by scrolling through the internet alone. After reading the inconsistent reviews on GoodReads recently and the sheer fact that my family and I are in the middle of a “no TV” hiatus for the next two weeks, I decided to finally read it myself. Such a shame that I hadn’t read it before as it’s an incredibly popular story that was first published well-before I was born–1977.

AM_coverThough the cover of my copy–a ragged thing I found at a library sale a few months ago– boasts that it is an “incredible, bestselling true story,” there’s no real and consistent evidence to support anything the Lutz family claims. But even if the family told their truth, there would naturally be both skeptics and believers. And well, honestly, no one who didn’t live in the house during the Lutz family’s crazy 28 days in the house, will ever really know the truth. But, maybe–just maybe–we aren’t supposed to! I mean, some of the events that supposedly take place according to Anson and the Lutz family are a bit over the top for a non-fiction if it is one; a house is essentially physically destroyed without anyone ever hearing the damage being done, a woman’s face molds into an old stranger’s, phantom welts appear, secret unmapped rooms are found, a burial ground compounds the problem, levitation, unbearable temperatures, invisible marching bands, a Catholic priest, a well-known local story about a boy who murders his family, giant pig demons, and more. That’s a whole lot of nope to deal with.
Anyway, the storyline is good to really good–true or not. Anson wrote the book in a reporter’s tone so depending on your taste, it could be dry or just acceptable. If you’re an editor like me, page 114 is a good place to skip because it will probably kill your soul a little:
“Kathy came out of the house with his light and his parka” (114). (You mean George!)
I have to give Anson credit for how he constructed the book though; it goes back and forth between characters a lot and flows day by day until the family eventually flees the house. This construction allows the reader to be able to really dig in to the details that finally push the family out.
I think this story will forever be popular because of the anomaly that it is. No matter how much skeptics scoff at the “based on the true story” stamped boldly across the cover, it’s still a scary read–disturbing even. This is definitely a book to read in broad daylight…with friends around.
-E

An Interview with Horror Novelist Alistair Cross

Horror, Interviews

“The idea for this book hit me hard and fast, and the characters came at me full-force, demanding that their stories be told.”

–Alistair Cross on writing Sleep, Savannah, Sleep

Q: Tell me about Haunted Nights LIVE and what inspired you to start this radio show? How can people listen in?

Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! came about when the show’s producer, Pam Stack, approached me via Facebook, asking if my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I would be interested in hosting a weekly horror-themed show. Haunted Nights LIVE! is part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network which has more than 3 million listeners worldwide…so naturally, I said y

es without hesitation.

Through Haunted Nights LIVE! I’ve met some of the most fascinating people alive today and I don’t take that for granted. Many of the guests we talk to each week are authors I grew up reading and loving, the ones who inspired me to become a writer. And I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a part of this show because it allows me to spend time with many of the writers who will be remembered hundreds of years from now.

Listeners can check out the show at our Facebook page: Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live! Or at the guest page on my website: Allistaircross.com.

AC-Headshot

Q: What would you say is the best thing about hosting Haunted Nights LIVE?

Meeting my heroes. Through Haunted Nights LIVE!, I’ve met folks like Laurell K. Hamilton, Andrew Neiderman (V.C. Andrews), John Saul, Charlaine Harris, Preston & Child, Kim Harrison, Christopher Rice, and The Walking Dead author, Jay Bonansinga, just to name a few. Getting to know these great writers is a pleasure beyond anything I could have imagined.

SavannahCoverQ: So, Sleep, Savannah, Sleep is your latest novel. What inspired you to write this book? What do you want your readers to take away from reading your work?

The inspiration for Sleep, Savannah, Sleep came from no place I can identify. It was one of those ideas that struck late one night as I was trying to fall asleep. I just began wondering, “What if,” and as these things often go, I was up for the rest of the night plotting it out, and by the time the sun was rising, I had the book mapped out in its entirety–which has never happened before. Usually, plotting happens as I go along, but this time, it came to me all at once, fully-formed.

The main thing I want readers to get from my work is entertainment. I want them to enjoy spending time in the world I’ve created, with the characters I’ve come to love so much myself. My only real goal as a writer is to pull readers into the story and make them a part of it.

Q: How long did it take to finish writing, Sleep, Savannah, Sleep?

Unlike my previous works, which often take between nine and fifteen months to complete, the first draft of Sleep, Savannah, Sleep was written in just 25 days! The idea for this book hit me hard and fast, and the characters came at me full-force, demanding that their stories be told. As a result, I pulled many, many all-nighters, sometimes writing well into morning the next day. This, of course, created a strong need for serious revisions later, but it’s very first telling came out in under a month.

Q: Did you do any special research or take any literary trips to finish Sleep, Savannah, Sleep?

While I often end up doing some minor traveling for research, Sleep, Savannah, Sleep did not require me to leave my writing studio. But I did have many conversations with a massage therapist, an attorney, and someone in the cemetery business, all of whom were instrumental in helping me get my facts straight–and all of whom were incredibly generous with their time and very kind to me.

Q: Did you consider any alternate endings for Sleep, Savannah, Sleep?

No, because the ending was the first thing I knew when I began plotting out this book. For me, it couldn’t have ended in any other way–which is not to say that at certain times along the way, I didn’t wish I could change things. Sometimes, the villains grow on you and you want to absolve them of guilt…but no, there was no way Sleep, Savannah, Sleep could have taken a different turn. I think the difference with this book is that it’s a whodunit–and that requires knowing the ending from the very beginning.

“The characters know themselves–and the story–better than I, and it’s only when I set them free that the narrative comes to full life.”

Q: What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Without question, the absolute worst advice I was ever given was to never allow my characters to take full control of the story. I was told to “keep them on a tight leash,” and always “insist they do my bidding.” I have since learned otherwise. The characters know themselves–and the story–better than I, and it’s only when I set them free that the narrative comes to full life.

Q: What does your “writer’s studio” look like or where do you feel most inspired to write?

My “writer’s studio” is a tall corner desk in a bedroom surrounded by plants, my favorite framed paintings, and all the books I love the most. As for feeling inspired to write, I don’t believe in waiting for that. I don’t want to be at the mercy of such a fickle emotion as inspiration, and instead, I set writing hours and am militant about spending that time writing and I protect that time fiercely.

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you do? How do you spend your spare time?

The truth is that I really don’t have much spare time at all, but when I do, I like to go driving aimlessly, stereo blaring, the open road ahead. There are also a few shows on Netflix I enjoy watching.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?

The very weird–but very real–truth of it is, I don’t. The characters tell me their names, and if I try to change them, the characters simply stop working for me. It’s a strange phenomenon, but until I “know” their names, the story just doesn’t work–and, apparently, it isn’t for me to decide what they should be named.

Q: In your opinion, which is the greatest book ever written and if you could choose to, would you live it out?

Violin by Anne Rice. And no, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I don’t have that much guts.

Q: Of all the characters you’ve created, which would you say is your favorite?

I will always have a particular fondness for Gretchen VanTreese, the four-foot-eleven, blonde-haired villain in my vampire novel, The Crimson Corset. She’s wicked in delicious ways and I can’t wait to get back to her.

Q: If you could turn one of your books into a movie, which would it be and who would play the leading character?

I think The Angel Alejandro would make a good movie because it would have to be pretty visually stimulating. And I’d like to see all those quirky townspeople committing their many nefarious little crimes in the flesh. But as for who would play any of them, I wouldn’t dare say. Books and movies are such different entities that I feel it’s best to leave casting to the casting directors, who have a far better idea of what they’re doing than I would.

Q: Where do you think the publishing industry will be in 5 years? What would you change if you could?

I have no idea, but I firmly believe in changing with the times, so wherever it may end up, I’ll be there.

Q: How can readers stay connected with you and stay up-to-date on what you’re working on?

The best way to stay up-to-date on my upcoming work is to join the Thorne & Cross monthly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ckaBrr.

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Stay updated on Alistair’s work by going to his website: alistaircross.com. Need something chilling? Tune in to Haunted Nights Live!

-E

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Book Reviews, Horror, Other Genre

I was lucky enough to stumble across this book while adventuring in East Oahu. I found it in the forgotten corner of a used bookstore on top of a column of other books.  As soon as I noticed the vibrant, red cover I was immediately drawn to it and once I learned it was written by a Russian author, I was only further intrigued. I’ll add that the book is beautifully designed inside and out.

5

This collection of short stories is dark, weird, and fascinating! The work responded to my nerdy love for literature and reminds me of something that would’ve been popular with my peers in college while I was getting my degree in English. Albeit, some stories in the book are better than others, there are a few that will become your favorites. An example of a story that I didn’t particularly care for is, “The Shadow Life”. It’s not badly written, it was just way too similar to any standard ghost story.  To get the most out of them, I suggest you take your time to really read them–please don’t just skim through; really think deeply about the story you’re reading, like you should with every book you read. My favorite story in this collection is, “Hygiene”, where a mysterious disease has forced a family to isolate their own daughter to keep the disease contained, or so they think.

You can get a copy at any regular book store like Barnes and Noble or on Amazon.

-E

Review of Nicholas Paschall’s The Ghost of O’Leary House

Book Reviews, Horror

This book is about a young guy named David and his transformational journey after he finds out that he has witches in his family. Intrigued? Well, you should be! This is a book about witches, family secrets, and stalking phantoms! There’s intrigue and drama everywhere!  I gave this book: 4/5. You should get your copy here.

 

4

Here’s why.

Can we just get the bad stuff out on the table first, so, we can focus on the good stuff? The only tiff I have is that there were issues with content, grammatical errors, and a need for proofreading. Sometimes the inconsistency in the content had me going in circles.  Here’s just two examples, that drove me nuts. First, the main character is described as a preteen (117) but the reader is lead to believe that he’s in college early on (7). If he’s gifted and skimming through academics, that’s cool, but it would’ve been nice to know. Second, the misuse of a foreward. Forewards are written by someone who’s not the author. A preface, though most commonly used in nonfiction pieces, is written by the author. Hence, the loss of stars! It sounds more dramatic than it really is.

Anyway, there’s a lot of good stuff to focus on in this book! Paschall is definitely talented at forcing his readers to keep reading. There’s no denying that Paschall is a great storyteller. Each chapter ends with a cliff-hanger! It’s cruel, but it’s true. Honestly, I really enjoyed this book. The horror factor won’t completely plague your dreams if you’re used to the hardcore gore stuff, but, there’s total creep value here. A few things the spectre does in the book made me cringe! There’s a bathroom scene where the ghost is crawling up a wall–I had to look away. There’s character complexity! You’ll be shocked to learn what’s been going on with this family over generations. If you like stories about transformation, witches, ghosts, and secrets, Nicholas Paschall won’t disappoint!

Purchase your copy here.

Notes:

  • I personally contacted the author to get a copy of his book to review it.
  • I hate reviews that reveal too much, leaving nothing else to discover. If you want deep details, you can read the book yourself!
  • The book is 288 pages with short, 3-4 page chapters so it’s great for busy people!
  • This review correlates with electronic versions of this book.