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review 2020-02-19 15:40
He Had a Vision – Shepherd’s Warning by Cailyn Lloyd @cailynrox
Shepherd's Warning - Cailyn Lloyd

Last year I took in numerous books from new to me authors. None were disappointing, though some were better than others. Shepherd’s Warning by Cailyn Lloyd was a delightful surprise.


Cover by Rose Miller


Shepherd's Warning

Amazon / Goodreads




A house in the woods. The man. The woman. A hidden entity.


Who doesn’t love a good haunted house story?


Lucas and his brother, Nate, had inherited the MacKenzie mansion in the small town of Lost Arrow. It had sat deserted for years and they were there to make it their home. HGTV would be along for the ride, documenting the transformation.


They had no knowledge of it’s reputation, the accidents, the things that go bump in the night.


Tom Wolfe had sworn to protect the house, while he waits for the owner, his love, Elizabeth, to return. He wonders why, now, they are people here. Is it at her whim? He likes that they are fixing it up, but once they are done, he wants them gone.


A premonition brought Kenric Shepherd to Wisconsin. His vision warns of danger, but he must wait for more to be revealed.


As soon as the chainsaw did it’s thing, I would have been long gone.


Laura had been treated for epilepsy and was bullied and teased growing up. She learned to enjoy her own company. I guess now she’ll learn it was so much more than epilepsy.


I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Shepherd’s Warning by Cailyn Lloyd.

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/shepherds-warning-cailyn-lloyd
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review 2019-11-26 10:52
Shepherd's Warning
Shepherd's Warning - Cailyn Lloyd

by Cailyn Lloyd


(Mild spoilers)


This had a very atmospheric first chapter, dated in the 1970s, then it jumps to modern day with a completely different tone. It took a few chapters for me to start getting to know the characters and get into the story, but when the supernatural things started happening, my interest was definitely piqued. There were some original ideas on the haunted house theme, as well as some well-known tropes.


The character development was rather sluggish. There was just no one with enough personality to actually like. This made for a slow read for me. Also there were a lot of incomplete sentences like "Sat and stretched out." Was the extra word really so much trouble? That's the sort of thing that can lead me to DNF, but the Horror bits were interesting enough to make me want to see what would happen.


The plotting also had problems. A plot point would get introduced and just fizzle into nothing and transitions felt clumsy. One supernatural element to the story was just suddenly there with no lead-in and was rather jarring. Moments of suspense often turned out to be other than they appeared and until near the end, there were no sustained crisis points to keep me reading.


Much of it felt unrealistic. Characters would be brought in to save the day then immediately eliminated from the action in ways that made their existence pointless. One person faints in a swoon and is unconscious for a very long time (keeping her conveniently out of the way) while another gets a bash to the head but is suddenly awake and active again. Another character is managing to do all sorts of physical things with a broken arm that should have been much more distracting at least. A fight scene reads like a Manga and the magic towards the end made me think of 1950s B-movies.


On the positive side, the use of Old English rang true, though I don't have the linguistic expertise to know if it was accurate. It looked convincing enough. The story had some good bits and the overall progression worked, but the execution needs smoothing and some practice on establishing relevance.

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review 2019-11-19 21:10
Soulstorm by Chet Williamson, Basically Garbage
Soulstorm - Chet Williamson

This story has been told before. Rich man hires people to stay in a haunted house for nefarious reasons. It's a story I enjoy, so was excited to find this on the shelf at my local used book shop.


My excitement didn't last beyond the first couple chapters. 


This story is appallingly bad. Everything happens inexplicably. The rich man only has a vague reason for bringing them to the house; no plan whatsoever. Everyone's attitude is off somehow. It just doesn't make any sense. By the time I finished, I was just happy to be done. Nothing was satisfying; nothing.


Perhaps worst of all is the writing. Occasionally, Williamson goes off on an unexpected diatribe, writing as if the hallucinogenics only just kicked in and he's lost in a slushy, technicolor wilderness that only he can see, describing his visuals to the rest of us who he failed to provide the same substance to. Each time, he returns to narrative at hand as if nothing was amiss while I clear my throat and happily turn the page.


Soulstorm is not a book to pick up on a rainy day. It isn't a book to pick up when you've got nothing better to read. It just isn't a book to pick up at all.

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review 2019-11-18 22:31
The Haunted House: a True Ghost Story (Hubbell)
The Haunted House - Hubbell, Walter

Walter Hubbell, the author of this curiosity, was apparently an actor with a strong interest in the paranormal, like many others in the late 19th century. The transcription I read (on Kindle) is from the "Daily News" Steam Publishing Office, Saint John, N.B., 1879, and since it is about events that took place (or ostensibly took place) in Amherst, N.S. shortly before, it falls into the Canadiana bucket, though written by an American.


How firmly it also falls into the "fiction" column depends largely on how much the reader is disposed to give any credit to Hubbell as a believer in the phenomena he describes, with his rather flat style of reportage. Myself, I find only one thing more incredible than the rolling furniture, flying matches and knives, conversation by mysterious thumps, and spontaneous fires, and that's the report here of other people's reactions to the phenomena, which appears to have been in some cases joking and complete lack of worry about physical harm. There exists a fairly lengthy article in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychic Research (13: 89-130; 1919, Walter Franklin Pierce) examining the merits of the case from a distance of forty years. One of the its most interesting observations, in my view, is that none of the many witnesses cited by Hubbell are independently verified; even the newspaper accounts of the time appear to have got their citations from Hubbell rather than the friends and neighbours. In other words, it seems entirely likely that Hubbell, if he didn't create the narrative, shaped it to his liking. There was indeed a real Esther Cox in Amherst, and it does appear she had a reputation that was linked with strange happenings and fires (in fact, she ended up in jail for a month or two for arson).


I found it interesting that Esther's various ailments and inflictions in the narrative are directly linked by Hubbell to an incident where she was held at gunpoint in a wooded area, and though Victorian decency obscures the narrative it's pretty clear she was either raped (by a man named Bob) or was just spared that fate because her attacker was spooked by a passer-by. In any case, it's interesting to see her trauma so clearly set out as a precursor - Hubbell does not call it a cause, but he does take some pains to tell the story - to her paranormal afflictions. The principal ghost was even dubbed "Bob" by Esther and her family. It seems likely there were some inexplicable symptoms of poor Esther's trauma, that there was gossip, and that Hubbell, a self-appointed investigator, visited the family for a month as he says he did. After that - well, he sold 55,000 copies of his book to a credulous Canadian and American public (the book also had an American publisher).


I end up placing this work in the same category as "ghost-hunters" TV programs - or indeed, professional wrestling. In other words, believe it (or pretend to) if it amuses you, but there's little to no doubt it's all just so much bunk, and in this case not executed with a great deal of skill. It's fiction, but by no means deserves to be called a novel.


Poor Esther Cox. I hope she did in fact recover in a new environment, as Hubbell claims, after her fifteen minutes of celebrity (including the tour of speaking engagements he dragged her on) were over.


Here, as an appendix to my comments, is Mr. Hubbell's account of what another Esther-observer (and likely a rival, if you believe them both to be in the business of capitalizing on her) had to say about her. It reflects the fascination of the time with the newly-discovered properties of electricity. Hubbell says this about Dr. Edwin Clay, Baptist minister:


He, however, was of the opinion that through the shock her system had received the night she went riding, she had become in some mysterious manner an electric battery. His theory being, that invisible flashes of lightning left her person, and that the knocks which everybody could hear distinctly, were simply minute claps of thunder. He lectured on this theory, and drew large audiences as he always does, no matter what the subject is. Perfectly satisfied that the manifestations are genuine, he has nobly defended Esther Cox from the platform and the pulpit. 

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review 2019-10-24 13:55
A Halloween Tale
A Halloween Tale - Austin Crawley

by Austin Crawley


I've read this author before so I was expecting something pretty creepy, but I think he's outdone himself this time. It's a haunted house story that goes beyond the usual ghosts and demons into some very creative supernatural entities from a variety of cultures.


It takes place in an unnamed small town, but I got the impression of somewhere in the Midwest. The main character, Tesha, is an American girl of Asian descent (she mentions a Bengali grandmother) who is still in high school. Some of her friends get an idea to try to get into the local 'haunted house' on Halloween, something that someone tries every year, so the County, who technically own the abandoned property, post security guards every year. She doesn't want to go and is worried about getting into trouble.


Meanwhile, the mayor of the town knows the house presents a problem and has called in an exorcist. One of his employees used to work for the security guard company and has stories to tell about the house.


Beyond that gets into spoilers, but everyone who goes to the house has weird and terrifying experiences, often related to their cultural experience. There are some very original ideas and the whole thing is well-written, perhaps even better than his previous books.


You don't really want to finish the story alone at night. I can see this one becoming an annual read.



Also suitable for:

Terror in a Small Town

Fear Street

Genre: Horror

American Horror Story

Paint it Black

Diverse Voices

and this year New Release


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