My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.

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Review: Kill Creek

Kill Creek – Scott Thomas, 2017.

Four wildly different horror writers, each slipping in their popularity, take a lucrative offer to get back in the spotlight: $100,000 for an intimate interview livestreamed from a famously haunted house.

Their destination: the house on Kill Creek. Site of the brutal murder of a mixed-race couple during the Civil War and more recently, the former home of two mysterious, disturbingly reclusive sisters.

Halloween night finds the authors, their interviewer, and one camerawoman alone in the ominous house.  Somewhat to their disappointment, nothing supernatural seems to happen.  No orbs, no rattling chains or wisps of ectoplasm.  But… something does happen. The real horror begins when each author returns home.

Kill Creek is a deliciously creepy tale.  Thomas revitalizes the classic haunted house theme with vividly atmospheric writing and finely-honed tension.  Small, subtle terrors give the reader satisfying shivers and ramp up the suspense.  Top things off with a nail-biting, gory finale and a quiet, sharp little dig at the end, and you’ve got wickedly good novel.

The characters as much as the house make the story great.  Sam, an author of small-town horror struggles with writer’s block.  Moore’s violent, hard-core, sex-laden books are too extreme for mainstream fans. Daniel, who makes his living on Christian teen scare novels, is losing his base.  Sebastian, king of the classic ghost story finds his writing relegated to the older generation.  The house will use each of their weaknesses.

Under all the terror, Thomas conveys a poignancy in each character’s desperate craving for relevance: In the need to balance their drive for self-expression with the desire to maintain personal space outside of their writing. Deep down, Kill Creek is also a story about the bittersweet nature of the creative act of writing.  But mostly, it’s a treat of a horror story. Nicely done, Mr. Thomas.

rating system four crowskill creek.jpg

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Review: The Twelfth Enchantment

The Twelfth Enchantment – David Liss, 2011.

Spells and magic contest with political intrigue in this oddly satisfying historical novel.

Living in the friendless home of a family connection and nearly penniless, about to be married to an odious man she doesn’t love, Lucy Derrick views her future with despair.

Until she unexpectedly frees the great romantic poet, Lord Byron, from a strange curse.

This startling act of magic catapults Lucy into the forefront of a battle for the very future of England as the conflict between the Luddites – angry laborers and textile workers – and proponents of mechanization builds to a crescendo.

Now Lucy must unravel secrets from her own past while racing to reassemble the pages of the most powerful book in the world: the Mutus Liber, a true book of alchemy.

The Twelfth Enchantment is an uncommon mélange of historical fiction, fantasy, lively action, and light romance. In other words, it’s pretty great. The premise is wild, but Liss flawlessly melds magic with, of all things, the Industrial Revolution.

Changelings, cunning women, and revenants comingle with actual historical figures that Liss meticulously brings to life in his pages: among them, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, William Blake, and of course Lord Byron. Intelligent and brave, Lucy herself is an intriguing original character. Frustrated with, but bound by societal constraints, Lucy gradually empowers herself, and we cheer her on.

Maybe all these disparate elements shouldn’t work together. But they do. The Twelfth Enchantment is a singularly memorable – and enjoyable – read.

rating system four crows

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White Pizza with Salami and Blue Cheese

A few weekends ago, I visited Pittsburgh for the first time and had a blast. My husband and I stopped at the National Aviary – a wonderful, non-profit indoor bird zoo – and walked around downtown for hours. We ended up in the Strip district, gaped our way through the amazing Robert Wholey & Co.’s fish-and-everything-else market and had lunch at Enrico Biscotti Café. Next door is the Biscotti Company, a veritable paradise of baked goods. The Café’s lunch menu features rustic pizzas and pastas, salads, and various sangaweechs. Sangaweeches? (Yeah, I’m not sure what the plural of “sangaweech” is so bear with me, here). Whatever the plural form, a sangaweech is a hearty sandwich made on their house pizza dough.

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I had a delicious artichoke, mozzarella and roasted red pepper sangaweech. My husband got the special pizza of the day and it blew our minds. In a good way. And I am not a fan of salami! This however, was delicious: Garlic. Salami. Mozzarella. Blue cheese. Incredible. We left determined to replicate this pizza at home at all costs. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company was just couple blocks away and there we purchased a pound of Daniele Genoa salami: fresh, melt-in-your-mouth salami. Yum.

This recipe is our recreation of that magnificent pizza. Which we basically made the next night. And, o.k., again two nights later. It is that good a pizza! Enjoy!


Pizza dough for one pizza – make your own, or store-bought is fine. The better the dough, the better your pizza.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon dried Italian herb blend

¼ cup Parmesan*

12 large, thin slices of good salami. Good salami.

1 cup shredded mozzarella

2 tablespoons minced garlic – fresh or jarred

¼- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles

* You know your tastes: More or less garlic? Go for it. More or less cheese? Of course. This is a base recipe for you to modify at will. The Café’s version was minimalist and delicious.

white pizza ingredients

Try to ignore your Miniature Schnauzer, who waits, ever hopeful, for food to fall from the sky.

How to Make It:

If you have a pizza stone, put it in your oven and preheat the oven to 425F. Give the stone a half-hour to heat up.

Spread the pizza dough out on a sheet of parchment paper.

Drizzle olive oil over the dough and spread to cover with the back of a spoon or a pastry brush.

Sprinkle the Italian herbs over the olive oil.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on next.

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Layer the slices of salami to cover the whole thing.


Add a sprinkle of minced garlic.

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Next, crumble on the blue cheese so that a little bit lands on every slice of salami.

Last, top it all with the shredded mozzarella.

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Slide your pizza into the oven and bake at 425 F for 12-14 minutes or until the edges of the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.



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Review: A God in the Shed

A God in the Shed – J-F. Dubeau, 2017.

The serial killer who has tormented the outwardly bucolic Canadian village of Saint-Ferdinand has been captured at last.

He is a gentle, mad old man who has been storing the victims’ bodies in old refrigerators and their eyes…elsewhere. More horrifying? He has been protecting the village from something even worse than himself.

Enter young Venus, a village outsider and daughter of hippies (to her mortification), who inadvertently captures and imprisons a god in her backyard garden shed.

The god is not a nice god. It brings to mind Lovecraftian comparisons: its medium of artistic expression, for example, is gore. Many grisly events ensue.

A God in the Shed is hypnotic. You are lured into the narrative with snippets of village secrets, hints of arcane magic, and whispers of greedy, cabalistic societies.

Chapters shift between different characters’ perspectives, intensifying suspense and horror as pieces of the story fall together (in more figurative ways than one). Heroes become obsessed. Teens are trapped by the transgressions of their elders.

Complementing its flashes of darkly impish humor, the book raises deep questions about the nature of free will versus fate. The relationship between magic and science. Secrets of the afterlife and the nature of gods.

One word of caution: this is what I would call a “wet” book: it has a lot of sticky, bloody, imagery. Not to the extent of Nick Cutter’s Little Heaven, but it will leave us sensitive types with a few images we can’t unsee. Do not, however, let this deter you from the story. Fortify yourself and take the risk. A God in the Shed is a strange, compelling book. You won’t regret it.

rating system four crows

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Review: Edinburgh Twilight

Edinburgh Twilight – Carole Lawrence, 2017.

The year is 1881, and Ian Hamilton is the youngest of Edinburgh’s City Police force to earn the rank of Detective Inspector. His first solo case is a doozy: A serial killer is stalking the good – and bad – citizens of Edinburgh. Dubbed the Holyrood Strangler by the local press, the villain quickly racks up a significant body count. Teamed with the good-natured Sergeant Dickerson, Ian struggles to use his wits and modern detective techniques to find the killer.  Unfortunately, the strangler seems to always be a step ahead…

Edinburgh Twilight nicely brings the colorful Scottish city to life in all its aspects: from the grittiness of the slums to glitterati of the theater. Although the pacing lags at times, the story is replete with historical detail, lovingly vitalized for the reader. There are moments of gentle humor throughout that lighten the storyline and bring more depth to the characters.

Ian, however, is a difficult protagonist to like. Personal tragedy – losing both his parents in an arsonist’s fire – has left Ian estranged from his older brother and emotionally isolated from his fellow man. He is aloof, often self-righteous, and obsessively devoted to his work.  While readers understand that Ian’s flaws stem from childhood wounds, and we do get glimpses of a sensitive and empathetic side, it is a bit of work to relate to him.

While the bulk of the book centers on Ian’s brooding role, I would have enjoyed seeing other characters explored more deeply. One is left feeling slightly frustrated, as if doors to intriguing personalities had been opened but not entered.

Edinburgh Twilight is, overall, an enjoyable period mystery, populated with characters who great have potential for future development. This title promises to be the first in a series, and I would happily read a sequel.

rating system three and a half crows

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Review: The Rib From Which I Remake The World

The Rib From Which I Remake The World  Ed Kurtz, 2016.

Black magic, a twisted picture show and a fiendish carnival come to town one hot summer evening, bringing madness and torment to tiny Litchfield – and making for a stunner of a story.

It is the early 1940s.  George – call him Jojo – Walker is an ex-cop and town pariah, getting by as a hotel dick.

A ghastly murder on his watch spurs Jojo to investigate the new folks in town, those unsettling hygiene movie people.  Jojo is right, the film and its servants are much more than they seem. In fact, a special invitation-only midnight showing leaves townsfolks acting…unnatural, to say the least.

Jojo teams up with Theodora, the downtrodden theater manager’s wife, to make sense of the growing lunacy and violence. Their discoveries lead them to question the very nature of reality, the existence of god, and meaning of their own lives.

The Rib From Which I Remake The World is flat-out brilliant.  The story unfolds like petals of an exotic and scandalous black flower – each one gently opening to give the reader a distressing revelation. Picture yourself, big-eyed, mentally saying ooooohhh…and eagerly turning the page. Like that.

Scenes are so thoughtfully written they feel almost effortless. Ironically – you’ll find out why later – you feel as if you could step right into Litchfield, in both time and place. In a very meta way, Kurtz has built a reality about building reality.

The sense of pathos is strong.  Jojo’s personal tragedies, Theodora’s isolation, and other townsfolks’ afflictions are deeply affecting. The characters are dealing with same troubling existential questions everyone faces: the significance of life and the lack of control of one’s destiny. But here, they are also trapped in a surreal, macabre proving ground. Then again, maybe we are too…

The Rib From Which I Remake The World is unforgettable. Powerful ideas, wrapped in a dark mantle of horror.  Stunning.

rating system five crows

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Dark Chocolate Coconut Candies

Looking for a fast, insanely-easy Valentine’s dessert bite?  Try these delectable chocolate coconut candies.  If you are a fan of Mounds bars – or Almond Joys – you will adore these.  They are moist, rich, and incredible and come together in minutes.  Better than those old candy bars, any day! I love these: I think the original recipe came from a long-ago issue of Gourmet. Customize with your own decorations for Valentine’s day.  Enjoy!

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¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut

¾ cup unsweetened dried coconut

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Optional tasty/festive garnishes:


Sea salt

Red hot cinnamon hearts or other little candies – or try a piece of candied fruit.  Ginger, maybe?

How to Make Them:

Line the bottom and two opposite sides of an 8-inch square metal baking pan with wax paper.  Leave an overhang on both sides.  You’re only using the pan to shape your treats – the wax paper will allow you to pull the whole square out of the pan in one piece.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the sweetened coconut, the dried coconut and the sweetened condensed milk.  Use a spoon to get everything evenly combined.

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Press the coconut mixture into the pan in a nice, even layer using an offset spatula.  A regular spatula works, too, but the offset is helpful.  I recently got my first offset spatula and it turns out I didn’t know what I’d been missing.  They’re not expensive, either – this one from Amazon was only $5. I put a link down at the bottom for you, if you want.

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Put the coconut mixture, uncovered, into the refrigerator for 5 minutes to chill.

Meanwhile, melt your chocolate until it is smooth. Ideally, use a double-boiler.  A microwave works too. Or a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Pull your coconut mixture from the fridge and spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the coconut layer.  Here’s where the offset spatula comes in handy again.*

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* Want to fancy things up?  After you spread the chocolate over the coconut, add a sprinkle of sea salt or stud some almonds across half of the chocolate.  Half, because when you cut your candy, half of that chocolate is going to be on the bottom. Put your beautifully-decorated half on top when you sandwich the two pieces together.

Chill in the refrigerator until firm, 5-10 minutes.

Lift the whole square out of the pan and put it on a cutting board.  Cut the square in half with a sharp knife.  Now you have two rectangles.

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Next, make a sandwich. Flip one half of the candy over so the chocolate is on the bottom and the coconut faces up.  Place the other half of the candy with the coconut side down on top of it.  Both coconut sides are in the middle, and chocolate layers are on the top and bottom. Press down lightly. Get rid of the waxed paper.

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Cut into 1-inch squares.  Make sure your knife is cold and clean between cuts.  Chill, covered, until you are ready to serve.

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These keep in the fridge for a week.

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Enjoy! If you want to modify things further, consider melting more chocolate, cutting the plain coconut layer into little rectangles and using a fork to dip and coat them completely.

Oh! Here is the offset spatula on Amazon:  Ateco 1305 Ultra Offset Spatula with 4.25 by .75-Inch Stainless Steel Blade, Plastic Handle, Dishwasher Safe