Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Creep Out (A Ghostly Short Story)

Mary Ann shivered in the darkness and pulled the cardigan tighter around her shoulders.  October had brought with it freezing weather and foggy nights, she could see her breath rise into the air as she stood there momentarily lost in thought.  The graveyard lay eerily before her, it’s many headstones peeking up from the ground like stone hands ready to grasp unsuspecting victims and drag them into clammy, decayed graves.

She crossed her arms, as if to yield out any more morbid thoughts, and scanned the crowd for a familiar face.  She was attending the 30th Annual Creep Out, a gala celebration that the Liberal School of Arts carried out by tradition come every Halloween.  Every year students gathered around the town’s old graveyard for a bonfire, ghost stories and a nightly camp-out.  Mary Ann was a freshman and had never attended the event, and now that she stood there alone, her childhood fear of graveyards was quickly returning.

She swallowed hard and turned her back to the graveyard as she made her way to the refreshment table.  A few moments later, a plate full of junk food and a Coke in tow, she scoured the area for a place to sit.  There were some benches but all were filled.  Someone had pulled some overturned tree logs out from the wooded area surrounding the graveyard as makeshift seats.

Mary Ann weaved her way through the crowd and sat down on one of the logs, she preferred an empty one.  She ate quietly in the comfort of her own company as she observed the huge crowd.  One student had brought a boom box and many kids were laughing and dancing in a small circle around the bon fire.  A bunch of benches on the far right side of the graveyard held a rambunctious group of screeching students and smiling faces.

“I probably won’t stay here for long,” she contemplated quietly to herself while eating.

After all, she hadn’t brought a sleeping bag and the night was getting colder with each tick of the clock.  Wind blew blonde strands of hair into her face and fog had gathered quickly on the horizon, engulfing the graveyard and surrounding the students in a chilling gray illumination.  She was cold, alone, and knew she could never have a good time with that huge expanse of tombstones laying behind her.

“Care for some company?”

Mary Ann looked up into the face of a very cute boy.  The wind had whipped dark bangs into his eyes and his lips upturned a huge smile fit for mouthwash commercials.  Although she’d never met him before, she was grateful for the distraction of his company.

“Sure, have a seat,” she smiled back as she nodded her head towards the plate balanced between her knees. “I was just chowing down on hotdogs and chips.”

“My name’s Ian McGomery,” he extended his hand for a shake.

“Oh, Mary Ann,” she swallowed the remaining mouthful of chips before wiping greasy hands on her jeans and shaking his hand.  “Wow, you’re freezing!  But so am I, I’m thinking about leaving soon.”  She shivered and mumbled an appreciative ’thank you’ when he offered her his scarf.

“Nice to meet you,” Ian flashed another toothy smile.  “You mean you don’t enjoy hanging out in graveyards?”  He laughed heartily at his joke.

Mary Ann talked to the soft-spoken stranger for a while and was delighted to discover that he, like herself, was majoring in Journalism and earning a minor in Creative Writing.  They also shared the same appreciation  for old 70’s music like The Beatles and old school Aerosmith.  The two proved to have much in common and she was truly mesmerized by his good looks and shy charm.

She was sad when he declared suddenly, “I’m really tired, I think I’ll head back home.”

“Oh wait,”  Mary Ann dug into her shoulder bag for a pencil and some scrap paper.  “Can I have your number, I’d love to hang out sometime, perhaps we can help each other with our writing.”

“Of course,” Ian quickly scribbled his number on the post-it note and leaned close to offer Mary Ann a small hug.

“Gees,” she smiled into his beautiful blue eyes.  “It’s a good thing we are both leaving, you are about to freeze to death!”

“No chance in that happening,” a smirked danced across his lips and his eyes clouded over.

They parted at the graveyard entrance, Ian went east towards Madison Drive and she went West and headed back to the dorm.  She wondered for a moment why Ian wasn’t walking towards the dorms and then realized with a nervous laugh that he must live off campus.  He did say he was a senior so he probably lived in a frat house in another part of the neighborhood.

Once she was standing safely in her dorm room she tried to shake the thought that she’d spent three hours of Halloween night hanging out in a creepy graveyard.

“Well, at least I met a nice guy,” she reasoned as she pulled off her jacket.

Much to her dismay she realized she’d forgotten to return Ian’s scarf before they parted.  Oh well, she wanted a good excuse to call him anyway and his scarf was just as good as any.  She quickly dug his number from the mess inside her purse and the plucked the receiver from it’s place on the wall.

“Hello,” said a cheery female voice after just two rings.  Mary Ann’s heart dropped.  Perhaps he lived with his girlfriend, or worse, his wife, in off campus housing.

“Hi,” Mary Ann began after collecting her bearings.  “Can I speak with Ian, please?”

“Who is this?”  The lady clearly sounded angry.

“My name is Mary Ann, I was just calling to remind Ian that I still have his scarf,”  Mary Ann explained quickly.  “He let me borrow it earlier this evening at the Creep Out.”

“Nice joke,”  the lady sounded like she was choking back tears.  “This happens every year, please don’t call again.”

“What, what are you talking about?” Mary Ann was confused by the mannerisms of the lady on the other end of the telephone line.

“Ian was killed 27 years ago,” the woman spat between sobs.  “In a freak accident on Halloween night.  Now please, don’t ever call here again.”

The phone line went dead and Mary was astounded.  She reach up to her neck for the scarf, but it was gone.

(Written by Stacy Lynn Mar)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reading Radar: Harlequin Intrigue Gothic Find!

I buy quite a few books on Kindle, and sometimes when I'm in the mood for a creepy story (but with a little more romance) I search through the Harlequin and Love Inspired books.

So, a couple of nights ago (whilst on a downloading spree) I came across a set of gothic-type books released in the Harlequin Intrigue line in 2008.  The four-book set was released as the Moriah's Landing collection:


With his darkly handsome looks and edgy attitude, Officer Cullen Ryan could spark a woman's deepest fantasies. He'd never looked at brainy, virginal Dr. Elizabeth Douglas that way. But when the former town outcast strode into the room where Elizabeth had found a body, her heart beat fast.And when they formed a wary partnership to investigate the murder, Elizabeth discovered something else--a dangerous passion that threatened her safe, sheltered world.

Then Elizabeth became the target of the ruthless killer and Cullen vowed to do anything to protect her. But could he save himself from the haunting pull of desire in the sanctuary of Elizabeth's eyes?


Danger! Undercover agent Jonah Ries couldn't explain to the stunning woman who'd mistaken him for her blind date exactly how he knew someone was trying to harm her. But evil stalked Moriah's Landing, and Katherine Ridgemont was its target. When she learned of Jonah's deep secret, Kat might not give him the time of day. 

Only that wouldn't stop Jonah from watching over the vulnerable beauty after dark. As the anniversary of Kat's mother's mysterious death approached, the instinct to protect became a fire in Jonah's blood. A fire matched by his determination to save the woman he loved from the unknown forces that haunted the night...


Struggling waitress Brie Dudley had managed to keep the identity of her daughter's father a secret for years. Until wealthy, powerful Drew Pierce came back to Moriah's Landing. With one glance, Drew saw what the town hadn't--his own eyes staring back from his daughter's innocent face. And primitive instinct warned him to stake his claim on mother and child....

Brie had dreamed about marrying Drew, but now the vows they made were of necessity, not love. Or were they? With a storm of scandal brewing, news of their daughter had provoked a deadly enemy. Together they could keep her safe--but only if they shared the secrets in their hearts....


Rumor had it that the secretive owner of the castle on the cliffs, Dr. David Bryson, had been hideously scarred in the accident that killed his fianc?e. Now designer Becca Smith had been summoned to work in his home. Though she received mysterious warnings to stay away, nothing could keep Becca from meeting the man whose seductive voice made her burn for his touch. 

She was too young, too beautiful, too familiar. She awakened memories in David long buried...emotions that teetered on the edge of insanity. But he vowed to see Becca only from the shadows. Except when a killer attacked, David stepped from behind the veil of darkness to save the woman who was his only hope of salvation.

Don't they sound juicy and eerily similar to the vintage gothic stories and elements?

I can't wait to read this series and will review the books as I read them, so keep watch.

Separate paperbacks are available on Amazon for each of the books.  However, if you own a Kindle (or can use the Kindle app on your andriod or iphone, ipod or other device) you can purchase the whole series for just $8.99 and cut the shipping and handling charges!

"A curse has settled over the small New England coastal town of Moriah's Landing...an unknown force that's about to irrevocably change the lives of four young women--and the men captivated by their spell. As they risk their lives to uncover the secrets behind the dark vortex of serial killers, genetic research and modern-day witches that haunts the town, it is their hearts that are in the greatest peril." 

Bundle includes Secret Sanctuary by Amanda Stevens, Howling in the Darkness by B.J. Daniels, Scarlet Vows by Dani Sinclair and Behind the Veil by Joanna Wayne.

You can order the Kindle bundle edition HERE.

I really think I'll enjoy this series.  Perhaps you will too!
Until next time, happy reading!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Silver Scream: 'Messiah of Evil' Movie Review

Released:  1972

Movie Blurb:

A young woman travels to a small California seaside town to visit her father, an artist.  When she arrives at his home, she finds him missing and his home filled with numerous paintings of his creation.  The woman decides to explore the town to find out what happened to her father and discovers some strange happenings involving the local populus.

I actually found this movie on a collection of classic horror movies 50 Pack Chilling Classics.  Honestly, a movie this good (and old as this) was a surprising find.  I own quite a few of these collections of old movies as there's just something about the cinematics, the acting, the original story line of these movies that I find endearing.

This movie chronicles a girl on a journey to a town that is seemingly gone mad.  Her father has gone missing, she's befallen with bizarre dreams.  She has ended up with three unsuspecting guests. 

As the movie progresses, she reads letters written by her father, and strange happenings befall her.  It seems that every 100 years or so the 'blood moon' makes everyone go mad for the desire to consume the flesh of living things.

This movie (and the story line) is quite horrific in a spine-tingling, suspenseful, repulsive kind of way.  I would refer to it as an occult classic:  zombies, the walking dead, cannibalism, and pure horror.

Although the movie is dated (1972)...in a way it's not.  I don't understand why it was never ranked with movies like The Walking Dead...actually, I think this movie is even better.

As for the gothic romance elements...you have the unsuspecting girl who is lured to the strange town, and this huge, odd house by the sea, in search of her father.  You have horror, suspense, murder, drugs, and a little bit of romance/sex appeal thrown into the mix of a town gone mad.  

The most terrifying scenes, I think, occurred when one character found herself trapped inside a grocery store and attacked by cannibals; another when a girl finds herself trapped inside a movie theater with cannibals; and when a lead character hitchhikes with a man who is very weird to begin with but takes it to a horrific level when he grabs a rat and bites its head off!

I'd recommend this to any fan of horror movies and occult classics.

My Rating:
5 Stars

Below are pictures of the grocery store scene, where the main character finds herself trapped  inside of a grocery store with meat-eating zombies who eventually attack her:

Alternate Cover Art:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

"A Nightmare Legacy" by Jane Corby

Published:  1970
Setting:  Modern


suddenly materialized as Amanda went toward the balcony door.

Horrified, she stood frozen, her hand arrested in mid-air.  The chill tingling up her spine was unbearable as the ghastly apparition came closer to her.  

Amanda cringed away.  She screamed, her voice choking in her throat as everything went black...

Book Blurb:

Amanda Vail had returned to the great house on the New England cliffs to claim it as her legacy under the terms of her great-uncle's will.  But the Laytons, caretakers of the mansion, treated her as an intruder, insisting that the estate was rightfully theirs according to the terms of another- and later- will made by old Jasper Vail.

Fearful of what these avaricious people might do to her, Amanda turned for help to two men:  Bill Atherton, an artist who had begun a painting of her five years ago and who had involved her in suspicious gossip when his wife disappeared, and Hugh Marley, a handsome writer living on the Vail estate and hiding from...Amanda didn't know what.

A sudden and horrifying discovery caused Amanda to turn on both men and run for her life!

Setting:  A rambling old beach house nestled along the sharp cliffs of New England.

Plot:  The main plot has to do with the inheritance of Amanda's will being jeopardized by the groundskeepers (an elderly couple, the Laytons) who say her Uncle Jasper left a new will that designates them the rights to the house and funds.  Yet, as Amanda awaits the courts to weigh their decision on which will is original, Amanda entertains herself by spending time with two male friends.  The first, Bill Atherton, is an artist for whom she posed five years earlier (at the age of 16).  Rumors of an affair between Amanda and Bill erupted in the small seaside town and Bill's wife mysteriously vanished.  He claimed she had ran away.  The second, Hugh Marley, currently inhabits a small cottage in the marshes.  He claims to be a writer/journalist, but is evasive and behave suspiciously.  And we can't forget the danger, the accidents that continue to happen to Amanda...accidents that threaten her life!

Gothic Elements:  A rambling seaside mansion with steep, sharp cliffs and an angry ocean.  The heroine is nearly drowned when someone removes a warning sign that is posted near dangerous water.  A large inheritance that is being jeopardized.  A dark, mysterious artist.  An evasive, mysterious writer.  Scary faces appearing in windows.  Heroine is nearly crushed to death by a cement column.  Crazy, hostile housekeepers.  Talk of pirates loot as the heroine  is trapped beneath the house in what appears to be a space meant for drowning prisoners, she nearly loses her life.  Heroine falls into an icy, water-filled hole at night and must await help.  Detectives, private investigators, a main character being 'wanted' as a fugitive.  An apelike, scary stepson of the groundskeepers.

Romance:  There really is no romance between Amanda and Bill, despite any rumors.  He merely appears to be an old friend.  However, there seems to be a growing chemistry between Amanda and Hugh, yet she uncovers secrets that both, make her fearful and angry.

This is my second time reading this book.  I first read it years ago, I think on summer break from college classes.  I remember laying on the couch, reading this book and totally losing myself in it's summery atmosphere of suspense.  I don't know what it is about this book, but it just totally drew me into the story (it was just as good the second time around).  Maybe because the story includes my favorite things...mysterious writers and artists and then the unsuspecting heroine who only wishes to live in the huge old house she's inherited.  I love the descriptions of the sea...everything.  It's quite a short read, too, probably tapping out somewhere around 90 pages or so.  This is one of my favorite gothic romance books.  It's fun, its creepy, it's full of suspense and has several subplots to follow.  My only complaint is that I wish it had been about 100 pages longer.  If you enjoy the vintage gothic, this read is for you!

My Rating:
5 Stars

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Old Time Horror Radio Stories Much Resemble The Vintage Gothic

I'd like to introduce you to an Old Time Radio Horror show:  The Witch's Tale.

Honestly, I'll admit, I have never heard of horror-related radio shows until today.  I was meandering through some gothic romance themed videos on youtube, when suddenly this gem of a story popped up.  Of course...anything vintage really pulls my heartstrings, including the classic movies (and now the radio shows, of course) so I hit the play button.

I've since listened to several of these old shows today and I'm delighted to have found such a thing exists.  And, wouldn't you know, many of them read just like a good ole Gothic Romance.  I've also heard these shows referred to as 'pulp fiction.'  Which leads me to wonder if the original vintage gothic-type story was also referred to as pulp fiction.  I highly doubt it, considering that mostly just the magazines were considered 'pulp' for their cheap paper and the the quick rate for which issues were printed.

According to my research, radio shows hit the airways around 1934 and thrived as the more popular forms of entertainment well into the 1950's (when I'm sure the television became an American household object, and eventually TV shows completely replaced Radio Shows).

Here's what Vintage Library says about the show:

Alonzo Deen Cole, creator of The Witch's Tale, once said, "People like to be scared, just as they like to eat candy." From the depths of his imagination he conjured Old Nancy (played by Adelaide Fitz-Allen, Martha Wentworth and 13-year-old Miriam Wolfe) and her black cat, Satan. This "Witch of Salem" urges listeners to "draw up to the fire and gaze in to the embers…gaze into 'em deep!"

Once she has your rapt attention, she begins to tell you - with a gleeful cackle - her tales of ghosts, devils, and curses. The narratives she weaves convey countless examples of how jealousy, revenge, greed and ambition can result in circumstances as frightening as any caused by supernatural beings.
This episode is titled 'Hairy Monster.'   I chuckled a little at the title, but found myself drawn into the story nonetheless.  I love the fine-tuned details of the meowing cat and the cackling laugh of the witch.  The story was pretty creepy and fun as well.  I could totally envision  families back then:   turning the lights down low, and gathering around the sofa in the living room with their tea/coffee, gazing into the fire as they giddily awaited the current episode!  Sounds like such a cozy time!

Anyway, have a listen and see what you think.  I know I'm already hooked and am considering buying the recordings on CD.

And turn the lights down as you listen, if you dare!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Beast in View" by Margaret Millar

Published:  1955
Setting:  Modern Day

The voice was quiet, smiling.  "Is this Miss Clarvoe?"


"You know who this is?"


"A friend."

"I have a great many friends,"  Miss Clarvoe lied.  

In the mirror above the telephone stand she saw her mouth repeating the lie, enjoying it, and she saw her head nod a quick affirmation.  The lie is true, yes, a very true lie.  Only her eyes refused to be convinced.  Embarrassed, they blinked and glanced away.

"We haven't seen each other for a long time," the girl's voice said.  "But I've kept track of you, this way and that.  I have a crystal ball."

"I beg your pardon?"

"A crystal ball that you look into the future with.  I've got one.  All my old friends pop up in it once in a while.  Tonight it was you...Your face is right in front of me, real bright and clear.  But there's something wrong with it.  Ah, I see now.  You've been in an accident.  You are mutilated.  Your forehead is slashed open, your mouth is bleeding, blood, blood all over...blood all over..."

Book Blurb

She was beautiful and evil...she murdered minds as well as bodies.

Beautiful, seductive, deadly Evelyn Merrick is one of the most horribly fascinating heroines in suspense fiction.

Her first victim escaped with her life, but with permanent scars left on her mind.

The second she drove to suicide.

The third she killed with her bare hands.

The fourth she reserved a punishment that was far worse than murder...

I'm not going to go into great depth with this review because, frankly, this book is more a cozy murder mystery than it is a gothic romance.  Though published in 1955 by Bantam Gothic, this book is more of a psychological thriller.  The story-line switches from character to character (which usually drives me crazy but was endearing enough in this book).  True, there is a degree of horror.  There are murders committed by a sick and twisted mind.  For a long duration of the book, you're almost certain who the killer is...however, the twist at the end really throws you a punch.  Honestly, I never even suspected the true killer, nor their motive.  This is a quick-paced, horrific read if you can get past the changing perception from character to character.  There is no romance, as this is a psychological thriller that administers the multiple personality variety.  But enjoyable enough to recommend to fans of horror or mystery.  Back in the day, this book was well-accepted and highly acclaimed, it even earned the author the Edgar Allen Poe award. 

My Rating:
4 Stars



"The Face in the Pond" by Clarissa Ross

Published:  1968
Setting:  Historical


The light was growing dim.  The fog swirled about the hedges even more thickly than before.  It gave the night an especially eerie atmosphere, Sarah thought, and she shivered and pulled her cloak about her tighter.

She had gone on only a few yards when she became aware that someone was following her.  She quickened her pace, and the speed of the footsteps behind her also increased.  She turned to glance apprehensively over her shoulder and saw a weird wraith-like figure, cloaked completely in black, almost upon her.

She gave a cry of fear and began to run.  And from behind there came a maniacal cackle of laughter.  Sarah stumbled...

Book Blurb:

A jury finds her innocent, but to all Edinburgh lovely Sarah Bennet is a cold-blooded murderess.  When handsome widower John Stone offers her a position as governess to his son, Sarah accepts gladly, for Mr Stone's home, Dankhurst, lies outside the city.  Free from accusing eyes, she will begin a new life.

From the moment she enters the brooding mansion, Sarah is drawn into a world of terror.  The mistress of Dankhurst, John's wife, has died violently and mysteriously; a haunted figure- perhaps her avenging ghost- leads the young girl too close to a long-buried secret.

Setting:  An dreary old mansion by the name of Dankhurst, an estate nestled into the outskirts of a village called Rawlwyn where the pond lies mossy and stale, the rolling lawn littered with statues of ancestors made grotesque by the many years of weather.

Plot:  Young Sarah, penniless and with no family to call her own, has just gone to jury for committing a murder-by-poisoning for her recently employers.  Lucky she is found innocent.  The elderly judge, noting the dire position of the girl and fearing she'd be shunned from society, whisks her away to his estate where he has arranged for her to work as governess for a young charge in a town far away.  Handsome, blonde, John Stone watched her trial closely and she is delighted that it is he who is offering her a job, and an escape, from the judgmental glares of the townspeople.  Of  course, she'll share John's estate with Abigail, the cook;  Rodney, John's drunk brother who fancies himself a poet; and a crazy old lady who served companion to the late Mrs. Stone who died of a mysterious ailment.  However, once Sarah arrives at the estate, she senses only despair and evil.  Twice someone attacks her, shredding her clothing.  The young charge falls mysteriously ill twice in a short time, and after Rodney is murdered by poison, Sarah fears for the life of herself and the young boy.  She also fears someone is framing her for yet another murder she did not commit!

Gothic Elements:  phantoms in black, attacks by unseen persons, murder, death by poisoning, a crazy, hostile housemaid.  a young charge who is deathly ill.  two romantic men who vie for the attention of the main character, one whom ultimately ends up dead.  haunted, egyptian relics kept in the attic, a real sarcophagus full with a grotesque corpse.  noises, cries in the night gone unexplained.

Romance:  I was delighted that the romance in this story actually began early on.  Sarah feels an attraction to John Stone the first time she sees him.  However, once a resident at Dankhurst, it is Rodney who declares the hope of love to Sarah.  Soon-after, John Stone declares his own love.  However, Sarah's friendship (and budding romance) ends with Rodney when he dies of poisoning.  Ultimately, she and John Stone fall in love, once her suspicions about him can be laid to rest.

This book is a quick read and I really did enjoy it.  I'll be honest, I had speculations of the ending...but I wasn't totally correct so I did end up pleasantly surprised!  The only shortcoming about this story is how quickly things roll from one scene to another...from one catastrophe to another.  I feel as if the story could be fleshed out, and would have been more interesting had it been.  No complaints, though, it was creepy enough!  The whole Egyptian thing (and the final twist in the story) literally made me shiver.  It's a fun, scary book well worth the read!  Definitely gothic romance 100%.

My Rating:
4 Stars


Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Witch" by Barbara Michaels (A Short Review)

Published:  1973
Setting:  Modern Day

Book Blurb:
A silent stranger moves in twilight shadows...It was more than her dream house. For Ellen March, buying the secluded old house nestled in the pine woods marked the start of a new life. Now she could put her failed marriage behind her, enjoy the quiet solitude of small town life, and get to know her worldly new neighbor, handsome Norman McKay... But strange visions began to cloud her mind - the shadowy figure of a woman, a ghostly white cat - and Ellen's safe haven slowly became her prison. Had she buried the past? Or had a dark legend come back to haunt her...?

This is a short review because, honestly, this book was a bit misleading.  Published in the early 70's, with wonderfully detailed gothic cover art, and the promise of 'dark terror' and 'mystery.'  But there's really not much of either within the pages of this story!

The book is about a lady (Ellen March) who finds the house of her dreams in the secluded backwoods of a tiny town.  And although there is a little bit of mystery pertaining to the 'witch' whom once lived in the very house she purchased, and of the townspeople who were said to have killed her, the mystery really stops there.  Ellen senses that the house is haunted, a seance is even held.  Yet the book seems to mostly revolve around the backward attitudes of the closed-minded folk of the small town, saving a delinquent, and a slowly-spawning romance between Ellen and her neighbor Norman McKay.

This is not a gothic romance, it doesn't even skim the surface of the type of mystery and terror that a good gothic entails.  I was highly disappointed with the book and nearly bored to tears.  I suppose I was expecting more, as I have read and enjoyed quite a many gothic-type stories from Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters.  But this book has neither suspense or terror.  I do no recommend this book to those who are looking to read a good gothic romance story.  I  had to force myself to read the second half of this story!


My Rating:
2 Stars

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Horror at the Hacienda" by Blanche Mosler

Published:  1973
Setting:  Modern Day

I heard voices...

"As for Sally, I agree, she must not leave here alive...let us give her the remaining days of her vacation..."

The remaining days- I went back outside, really running like the wind now, trying to think of something, anything, to save myself.  In the courtyard, I ran to the heavy outer gates and tried to jerk them open; if only I could, I might make it to get in my old car and race down the foothills.  But they were locked tight.  Not only that, my old car was nowhere in sight.  There seemed to be no way out for me; I'd be given a few days' grace, then I'd end up on one of those chests in Delores' memorial room, on my way to be buried where no one would ever find me...

I went back across the deep-shadowed poriales, because poor as its refuge was, I must make it back to my bedroom, if just to keep warm.  Wintry chill was in the night air now; and, aside from that, I dared not be caught outside...

Book Blurb

A Dying Man's Warning

A body was lying beside the road up ahead on my left!  As I slowed and reached the spot, I saw it was a white-haired old man who looked as if he'd been struck by a hit-and-run driver.

He wasn't dead but he was dying.  As I stopped and hurried over to him, I found that though he was terribly battered, a faint pulse still beat in the thin wrist.  Stunned, I glared down at his Roman collar.  The dying man was a priest.  What in heavens name had happened to him?  Why had he been on this lonely mountain road on foot?  A hoarse whisper broke into my thoughts, "Who...are...you?"

"I am a nurse, father," I reassured him.

"I'm dying...you must do what I tell you...Montera Hacienda...Dona Isabella ...grandsons...Danger...more murders....go quickly...speak to no one else...go...tell...."

"Tell what?"  My question came, harsh from frustration.

The old man's lips shaped more words, but the whispering this time was too faint.  The pulse stilled now forever.  The old priest was dead;  beyond questioning, beyond hurt.

Setting:  A dreary Spanish mansion by the name of Montera Hacienda, with it's locked gates, a rambling estate, a farm, and the many rude, secretive servants.

Plot:  Sally, a responsible nurse who has no close relatives to speak of, has decided to take a weeks' vacation after being jilted by her fiance.  As she ventures into treacherous mountain roads, she happens upon a dead man who gives her a dire message.  Unable to ignore the plea of a dying priest, she embarks upon a destination to a rambling Hacienda to relay the message.  Gullible Sally is unaware she's just walked into a dangerous operation...one for which no witnesses are desired.  And little does she know, her vacation is about to turn into a nightmare as she becomes prisoner in a strange land to evil people who wish her only ill-will.

Gothic Elements:  tarot cards, fortune telling, a shrine made to a dead woman, ghosts in a huge rambling Spanish Hacienda, a family who sticks to outdated traditions, an insane elderly lady, stolen treasures and jewels, an illegal operation, murder, secretive housekeepers, a rude elderly gardener, a broken romance, deceit and lies, treacherous secrets, a main character being held prisoner (locked gates, hidden car, hidden telephone and tv, etc), an evil motorcycle gang

Romance:  There was no real romance throughout the book.  Though toward the end, the main character is rescued by a childhood friend whom she briefly visited upon venturing into town, before her whole nightmare began.  They briefly discuss moving in together at the end of the story.

This is one of the better vintage gothic romances that I've read as of late.  This story was gripping from the first few pages.  The characters and the Hacienda are so bizarre that you can't help but keep reading the story.  The main character is so gullible that had she been real, I would really have been tempted to slap her!  She doesn't notice how perilous her situation until it's almost too late.  However, that only adds to the sense of suspense and danger.  Awesomely detailed, page-turning.  Absolute recommend to those who enjoy vintage gothic romance/vintage gothic horror!

My Rating:
5 Stars

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"The Devil Child" by Parley J. Cooper

Published:  1972
Setting:  Modern Day

Nights are filled with sounds, but the familiar sounds seldom wake the sleeper.  It was not the groaning of the old house that had awakened me...in the distant corner  of the house, something had moved and created an unfamiliar disturbance.

Outside, the storm continued after it's daytime rest, but it was dying out.  The wind was but a whisper through the tree branches;  the rain a mere mist, dripping from the waterspouts onto the wooden casts below.

...the light moved steadily across the room until the demon's legs were within sight.  They were covered by a long, white gown which flared outward with each step and clung to the shape of the legs.  They moved across the room toward the writing table, and stopped not more than a foot from my cramped form.

...the demon moved quietly away, toward the opposite door- Aunt Veeva's door.

Unable to remain in hiding any longer with Aunt Veeva in danger, I lifted the tablecloth and started to cry out a warning.  But the cry died in my throat.  I could only stare in disbelief, a heaviness weighting me beyond its support.  A chilling shudder passed through my entire body and I turned cold as one alive can become.

Entering her bedroom, the light held firmly before her, walked a silhouette with silver hair and thin, wasted arms- Aunt Veeva, herself!

Book Blurb


Lillith was young, strangely pretty, and different.  The townspeople called her a witch because she lived in the ominous, walled mansion known as Clarke House.  Her aunt, with whom she shared the shadowy darkness of Clarke House, called her other things.

Lillith was little more than a slave to the old woman who had raised her, held to her by an unspeakable bond.  She knew fear her every waking moment, terror every night, yet she did not know herself.  Then one day something so horrifying happened that she was forced to seek the truth.

But in a house shrouded in nightmarish deceits, the innocent and the curious were damned...

Setting:  A dark, musty dilapidated old house that sets at the edge of the woods, alongside a river full of green and wild things.

Plot:  Lillith Clarke is a young, strange girl.  Raised by her demented Aunt, she;s been brainwashed into believing that she is cursed, a witch to be shunned from society.  Her only friends are an old, suspicious witch who lives on the edge of their property and an elderly man whom fishes on Sundays at the river that runs the length of the estates property.  Lillith has no communication with the outside world, groceries are delivered and bills are paid by mail.  Lillith has no other family...her mother is presumed dead after a long illness, her brother arrested for the death of his mother's former lover.  But there are secrets, that when uncovered, can change the fate of Lillith...

Gothic Elements:  a sickly, overbearing Aunt.  Murder.  Locked rooms.  Dead bodies locked in chests.  Old, musty house.  Witches.  Family secrets.  Deceptions and lies.  An abused and neglected child.  Suicide and death.  Being locked inside a room with no way to escape.

Romance:  There actually was no romance.  I suppose this book would better be described as "Gothic Horror."

This book is a quick and enjoyable read.  It is very descriptive.  In fact, during the first thirty pages or so the book is much, much too descriptive when concerning the hills, the river, and nature.  Yet, when you get to the meat and bones of the story you'll be pleasantly horrified by this story, the secrets, the deception, the sick and twisted heart of Aunt Veeva.  While reading this book I felt a great sense of compassion for the main character, Lillith, yet she also angered me with her silly fears and gullible fancies.  Overall, if you enjoy gothic romance/gothic horror, you'll probably enjoy this book.  Though, as I mentioned before, there is no romance here.

My Rating:
3 Stars