Author: Grady Hendrix
You don’t have to wait long for creepy things to start happening in “Horrorstör”. Employees of Orsk, a knock-off IKEA, have been dealing with weird things since the store opened. Staff keep getting lost on the floor, are receiving text messages that say “help” from blocked numbers and the furniture is trashed while the store is closed. Amy, a disenchanted employee, can care less about all this. Her main goal is to fly under manager Basil’s radar until her transfer comes in. When corporate sets a date for a team of evaluators to visit, Basil panics. He’s desperate to figure out who is vandalizing the store before corporate’s arrival. So, he bribes Amy into staying overnight with him to catch the culprit. As the night deepens, Amy begins to realize they’re trapped inside the building with a malevolent entity bent on “reconditioning” them.
Seeing as I’ve definitely gotten lost in the twisting labyrinth of an IKEA store before, I loved the idea of a haunted knock-off version. Orsk’s similar windowless floor layout is what made it such a great setting for a ghost story. It was easily believable that the characters would have such a hard time escaping the store, especially in the dark with things hunting them. Continue reading
Ammie, Come Home
Author: Barbara Michaels
Publish Date: 1968
Genre: Gothic Mystery
Series: Georgetown #1
Ruth Bennett’s old house has always had some strange activity. A constant cold spot near the living room window and a soft voice that pleads for something during the night. Phenomenons that could always be rationally explained away… until now. In an effort to entertain her niece, Ruth invited over a medium to give a seance. Ever since then, her niece has been acting strange and the things happening in the house can no longer be explained as tricks of the mind.
Originally written in 1968, Ammie, Come Home is the first book by Barbara Michaels that I felt hadn’t aged well. This is largely due to the characters’ thoughts around domestic violence and sexual assault. However, there’s also a lot of very stereotypical gender roles playing out. The men, who haven’t known the female characters all that long, immediately swoop in and start making heavy handed decisions about how Ruth is going to handle her niece and the haunting. They were the main decision makers about everything and I hated that Ruth tended to just raise her hands in a “you know best” sort of way. Continue reading
House of Many Shadows
Author: Barbara Michaels
Publish Date: 1974
Genre: Gothic Mystery
Rating: A –
In House of Many Shadows, Meg Rittenhouse is having hallucinations after being hit by a car. Her doctor had told her to expect this and that they’ll eventually wear off. But after seeing an elephant strolling down a busy street in New York, Meg has decided to find somewhere more relaxing to live. So, she calls up her rich cousin, Sylvia, for help. Sylvia agrees that Meg needs help and offers to let her stay at the large Victorian house she owns in the country. But the house has a twisted history and suddenly Meg is having joint hallucinations with Sylvia’s step-son, Andy, about a family that lived on the grounds before the current house was even built.
Meg and Andy join together to discover who the people are in their visions and why there are shadows lurking around the house at night. As their research starts going deeper into what happened to the family who previously lived on the property, the hallucinations start becoming more real and revealing. The great thing about this book is that both Meg and Andy have had some issues that keeps you guessing if what they’re seeing is really paranormal or if they’re just feeding off of each other. Continue reading
Author: Katharine Ashe
Publish Date: 2012
Genre: Historical Romance
Captive Bride is a ghost story that is heavier on the historical romance side than the paranormal. After receiving a letter from her twin brother, Beatrice travels to a remote estate to help him get out of his newest mess. Accompanied by her two aunts and Lord Peter Cheriot, she discovers that her brother’s mention of a ghost were not false.
For all intents and purposes, I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much as I did. The terms of the ghost’s curse were pretty clichéd. Basically, the ghost must marry a maiden to free himself from the curse. So, any maiden who crosses the threshold of the estate gets trapped in the castle. You know where the story is leading in this regard. Ashe did put a small spin on the plot but it still generally ended in the same place I originally thought it would. Despite this, I still really enjoyed the journey.
All in all, Captive Bride was a solid book. I will definitely look into some of Ashe’s other novels in the future.