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: 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: Nightmare House

Nightmare House.  Douglas Clegg.  2004.

Welcome to a very satisfying ghost story.

It is October of 1926 when twenty-nine-year old Ethan Gravesend takes possession of his new inheritance: a monstrosity of mansion called Harrow located in a quiet village off the Hudson Valley.

Harrow is a legacy from Ethan’s wealthy – and some say, mad – grandfather who collected arcane and ancient objects from around the globe.

Ethan is excited to be back at Harrow.  He has only the fondest memories…so he thinks…of summer and spring visits there as a child.  He meets the old housekeeper, Mrs. Wentworth, and pretty Maggie Barrow who comes in to clean.

The house and its legion of unseen inhabitants soon lets Ethan know it is very much aware of – and anticipating – his presence.  When he and Maggie and her young son Alf make a horrible discovery in a walled-in tower room, Ethan is catapulted into a true nightmare.  There are secrets in the walls.  Secrets in Ethan’s parentage.  And madness potentially within Ethan himself as memories not so fond begin to surface.

Nightmare House has all the delicious elements of a classic ghost story: surprising secrets, an insular, brooding atmosphere, dark imaginative imagery, and classical allusions beautifully woven into the tale.  Clegg’s storytelling is spot-on.  Tantalizing snippets of a gruesome backstory involving an unnatural child and dark spiritualism experiments are revealed by the not-so-innocent Constable Pocket.  Ethan, or Esteban, is narrating from an advanced age, insisting his mind is sharp, but how reliable is he really?  A powerful storm, a possessive presence, a spooky crypt, and two questionable deaths bring a vivid denouement to this nicely-crafted tale.

As a bonus, the edition I read included an extra novella, Purity, which tells the story of another slightly damaged young man.  A sociopath?  With a Lovecraftian god? Also a fascinating read.