Getting Familiar with the Spirits

26801331Familiar Spirits
Donald J. Bingle, ed.
Compiled by Donald J. Bingle and William Pack
54o40′ Orphyte, Inc.
Paperback, 166 p.,  $19.95
ebook $4.99

This collection was funded through Kickstarter, and I supported it.  I chose both the electronic and a signed print version as my rewards.  I think I got my money’s worth.

I’ve always liked ghost stories, although they used to scare me to death when I was a kid.  I’ll admit when I pledged this particular project that I was expecting a slightly longer book.  I guess I’ve gotten spoiled by the Ragnarok Publications doorstoppers.

But like I said, I think I got my money’s worth.  With the exception of Jean Rabe, all of the authors in this volume were unfamiliar to me.  All of the stories were of professional quality.  With the exception of Jean Rabe’s offering, none of them tried anything fancy with voice or style.  The authors, while each having a different voice, told their tales in a straight-forward manner.  There were plenty of chills to be had, and none of the ghosts could be mistaken for Casper.  That’s a good thing.

Here’s what you get:

Sarah Hans tells of a battered wife’s revenge from the grave in “The Cold Earth”.  A wife’s ex-husband still blames her for his troubles, even after he’s dead, in Dolores Whitt Becker’s “All I Have is a Photograph”.  William Pack gives us a teenager’s first experience with the dead when he helps to clean out his recently deceased aunt’s house in “Stepping into October”.  “Green Lady” by Lynne Handy tells the story of a new wife’s encounter with a vengeful ghost after she moves to America to take up residence on her new husband’s estate.

In “What Happened at the Lake”, Wren Roberts gives the terrifiying account of a mother with two autistic children, and what happens when the older child demands to know where his yonger brother is after the brother has drowned.  This was one of the most chilling in the book because so much of the horror isn’t supernatural.  Kate Johnson’s “The New Girl” goes exploring  where she shouldn’t.  “The Hut” by Cathy Kern deals with a ski trip gone bad and a haunted ski hut.  In “Legend of the Sea Captain”, Ric Waters lets us know why you shouldn’t go walking along the beach before dawn.

I’ve always had a fondness for cemeteries in my fiction, and T. S Rhodes delivers with “Statuary”.  Melanie Waghorne shows us how “Irene” can find meaning in her life when the ghosts that only she can see and hear won’t leave her alone.  And finally, Jean Rabe gives us some canine ghosts (and a pet cemetery) in the dark “Cold-Nosed and Cold-Hearted”.  This one was written in a bit of dialect, something that’s fallen out of fashion, but I thought it added to the story and gave the narrator a unique voice.

Not all of the stories are scary, and some of them have a rather upbeat tone and/or ending.  But the ones that are scary are quite chilling.  Like I said, the book isn’t long, which means the stories are nice little October treats, just like all that candy you used to get on Halloween.  But without the stomach ache the next morning.

As I mentioned earlier, I got both the print and electronic editions.  I bounced back and forth between them, reading some stories at home in the paper book, and some in electronic format as I had a few free minutes throughout the day.  The print book is a high quality product.  The pages are sturdy paper, the cover has a deliciously creepy (and somewhat disturbing) cover, and the print has a font size that’s easy on my aging eyes.  The electronic book is well formatted.  The links in the ToC take you where they’re supposed to.  All in all, both versions are a good buy.

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