The House – Bentley Little



So this was my first forray into a Bentley Little tale. I’d heard such good things about him and decided it was time to give it a go. I had a few of his sitting on my shelf staring back at me to choose from. I selected The House and, looking back, that my have been the wrong one to introduce myself to his work. It’s not that the house was horrible. Far from it. But it became a mess and the last 100 pages were an absolute chore to get through. The ending was completely “meh” and I found myself disappointed at what seemed like a really good story at the beginning.

Five different people from different parts of the country grew up in a house that gave everyone the heebah jeebahs. These five people “escaped” their childhood houses and had never returned as adults. Most of their recollections were vague and fuzzy about their childhood homes until they all started having strange things happen to them that seemed to be all pointing in the same direction. They needed to return to their homes and take care of some unfinished business. What that business was, they didn’t know.

So far, so good? Yes. I was digging Little’s writing style and even though the five characters kept having similar things happen to themselves, to the point where it was beginning to feel like he was describing the same scene five different times, I was still chugging along.

Then we find out that the same Victorian house is in five different parts of the country and it’s a gateway barrier to some alternate reality. The five people go to their respective houses and then things morph so that they’re all together in the same house, which is now holding them prisoner. Without going into too much more detail, things started getting weird. And I can get into weird, but this weird was the same thing told five different times, over and over and over and…well, you get the idea.

Even though this is my first story by Little, I can tell that he has the chops to be considered a very good writer. The prose is not done by an inexperienced hand. The problem is the story itself. It really just goes around and around without much of a payoff, aha moments of explanation, or any points of interest. With a writing style as good as his, I expect more and not the clunker that was The House.

3 Foul Mouthed Urchins out of 5

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We Are Always Watching – Hunter Shea



Hunter Shea has to be the hardest working author in the horror genre right now. It seems as if, in the past year, he’s releasing a new offering every month or two. That’s quite the pace considering the turmoil the industry is in currently. They say during hard times that the cream rises to the top. We Are Always Watching is Shea on the top. I dove into this baby during a group read and it knocked my socks off.

West and his family have stumbled upon hard times. His dad was involved in a bad car accident and is now struggling with a crippling case of vertigo. Its so bad that he has lost his job and can’t work. With their money drying up and the bills becoming insurmountable, they are forced to move in with West’s crabby and contentious Grandpa Abraham in his old and spooky house in rural Pennsylvania. Upon arrival, things get weird for West right away. Mysterious and ominous messages begin appearing including one that says, We Are Always Watching. Grandpa Abraham takes them all in stride without shedding much light on them, only saying that he has it all under control. Does Grandpa really know what’s going on or doesn’t he care because he spends most of the day getting drunk down and the VFW? With West’s mom working all day in the city, his dad a mess from his vertigo, and with no cell phone or internet access to the outside world, he has no one to turn to until one day he meets the beautiful neighbor’s daughter. She seems just as mysterious as Grandpa Abraham. Is there really someone (or some thing) that has been writing these messages or is the house really haunted?

We Are Always Watching is a tension-filled pot-boiler with some great characters that transcend the story from being a good one to being a great one. Shea really has done something here and I hope he continues to flex this new found muscle he has.


5 Spinning Ghosts out of 5


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Tormentor – William Meikle



Jim Greenwood’s life is devastated with the death of his wife from cancer. He attempts to start over by getting away from all of the pain that surrounds him in London by moving to a remote home on the NE coast of Scotland near Dunvegan. The home is the oldest in the area and the locals seem to be frightened by it. Soon Jim finds out why. Mysterious sooty smudges appear while he sleeps that seem to be forming some sort of code. In an attempt to avoid the madness of it all, Jim resorts to drinking heavily. Is something from beyond trying to communicate with him or is Jim slowly going insane?

Meikle is a master at telling tales and Tormentor is no exception. He crafts a tight storyline with realistic characters that you quickly identify with. Tormentor is a fun romp of a haunted house story that you’ll savor through every page.

5 stick figures out of 5
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