THE WHISPERING DEAD by DARCY COATES
Latest book from Darcy Coates begins with a young woman named Keira fleeing from a group of men who are hunting her. She has no memory of who she is and why she is being pursued. She finds herself at a small church and graveyard, outside the remote town of Blighty, where a kindly pastor lets her stay at the groundskeeper’s cabin. There she discovers that she can see and communicate with the spirits still inhabiting the cemetery and gets embroiled in a mystery, while helping the troubled ghost of a murdered young woman move on from her mournful wandering.
Once again Coates spins an entertaining yarn that is equal parts ghost story and mystery. A story brimming with fog shrouded graveyards, shadow filled woods and locals with dark secrets. It’s the start of a new series, so don’t expect to get answers to all your questions, but Keira is a very engaging character and the town of Blighty a strange and gothic place, filled with some eccentric—and maybe some dangerous—characters. It’s a very quick read and a very entertaining tale, populated with some likable supporting characters, such as Pastor Adage, conspiracy theorist and general store clerk Zoe and charming med student Mason. The type of spooky fun book, perfect for reading under the covers at night, that we’ve come to expect from Coates, and starring a heroine we want to hear more from.
THE CARROW HAUNT by DARCY COATES
Another fun and spooky read from Darcy Coates, though a bit of an uneven one. This book finds Remy, a tour guide in the notoriously haunted Carrow House being hired to host a two week paranormal investigation of the mansion, which has a background of serial killers and murder. She has an eccentric group to watch over, including Carrow’s teen owner, April, the mysterious founder of the investigation, Mark and psychic medium, Marjorie. When things start going wrong and guests start turning up dead, Remy begins to believe this was a bad idea and that the evil in Carrow House is greater than any of them imagined—and maybe even far more corporeal than expected.
Book is another entertaining story, though based on Coates’ books read so far, it is also the most over the top tale from the author. It starts out grounded in the traditional haunted house tropes and a somewhat more down to earth approach, combining haunted house story and soon murder mystery. By it’s last act it gets very theatrical, though, with evil spirits plotting to become corporeal, a storm that seems almost to have a mind of it’s own and a ghost battle royale in a burning house. Depending on one’s tastes, the more bombastic ending may cause the story to lose it’s grip, or you may embrace the more Spielbergian theatrics. There are some plot contrivances in the last act, too, that allow characters thought gone to reappear and it gets a bit much. At least Coates’ penchant for good, fun characters holds up with her largest cast of characters in the books read so far. Her most uneven book to this point overall, but still an entertaining read and Remy is yet another memorable lead heroine.
THE HAUNTING OF BLACKWOOD HOUSE by DARCY COATES
Mara was raised by shyster spiritualists and thus doesn’t believe in ghosts. She purchases Blackwood House, a structure with a past of murder and bloodshed and that is rumored to be haunted. The house comes cheap, for the down on her luck young woman, who rationalizes that a house is just a house. Her Christian boyfriend Neil warns her against living there, but she refuses to believe such superstitious nonsense. The longer she stays there, though, the more weird things start to happen and while determined not to let them shake her disbelief, she soon starts to question maybe the supernatural exists after all and that she might be in real danger!
Another delightfully spooky ghost story/haunted house chiller from Darcy Coates. She first throws in some really endearing characters, such as our heroine, the skeptical and independent Mara, who is in a relationship with the strong, sensitive and caring, Neil. A born Christian, Neil is the Mulder to her Scully. We then get an absolutely spooky old house that was not only home to a serial killer, but in a bizarre twist of fate was built by Mara’s spiritualist great, great grandfather, Victor Barlow. Darcy Coates knows how to describe a haunted house, so it comes vividly to life in our imaginations. She again takes the traditional tropes like footsteps in empty rooms, rocking chairs that rock on their own and bloody hand prints appearing on walls and turns them into a very effective and spooky tale. Add to that, Mara has abilities she refuses to acknowledge that not only attracts spirits, but gives her vivid nightmares of the past, that add to the already chilling atmosphere. It’s one of Coates’ best books read so far and a really spooky story to take to bed and enjoy while safely under the covers. It’s a fast read and another book that is also appropriate for young adults, too. This author has yet to disappoint!
I know this is the Movie Madhouse, but I will review a book now and then, one that I really loved, or one that pertains to the movie world…and what pertains more than a tale of Halloween night that is as ripe for filming as the perfect pumpkin is for picking!
DARK HARVEST by NORMAN PARTRIDGE
Entertaining Halloween tale takes place in 1963 and finds a small town with a strange All Hallow’s Eve tradition. Each year on October 31st a pumpkin headed figure, grown in a cornfield, made of vines, stalks and filled with candy, descends on this rural Midwestern town. The teen males of this small municipality have till midnight to hunt the “October Boy” down and destroy it, before it can make it to the church in the middle of town. Wealth and fame are awarded to the winner, along with the freedom to leave town. Pete McCormick vows to win “The Run” this year and use his victory to get out of this small dead-end place…until he learns the truth about The Run and The October Boy.
Story by Norman Partridge is a very atmospheric Halloween tale filled with imagery of the season, such as corn stalks, jack o’ lanterns and, of course, a pumpkin headed being with a carved face and glowing light emanating from within. We have a strong hero in Pete, who wants to get away from this small town and his alcoholic father. A tough, likable heroine with Pete’s ally, Kelly Haines, a girl defiantly entering a boys only event, and a solid villain in the vicious Officer Ricks, who has more to do with The Run than at first appears. As for The October Boy, he is a more well-rounded character than one might expect from a monster…or is he? You’ll have to read this fast paced tale to find out the truth as Pete does. At only 169 pages it moves like a rocket and has plenty of action and bloody violence, as this year’s Run doesn’t go quite as planned. The reveals have impact and the only disappointment was not knowing more about the origin’s of The Run and of the mysterious Harvester’s Guild at it’s center. Otherwise, this is a fun and atmospheric tale for a breezy October night and one desperately in need of being adapted to the big screen!
Rated 3 (out of 4) jack o’ lanterns!