My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Two years ago, Rain Graves invited a bunch of horror writers to join her for a weekend in a haunted house. There was little programing but vast stretches of time in which to write or hang out with the other writers. Wine was consumed. Past ghostly experiences were confessed. There were tarot readings and K-II meters to play with and professional ghost hunters came with their laser webs and multi-spectrum video cameras. Ghostly voices were captured on tape.
Mostly, though, there were 10 of us rattling around in a big old house. The days were pleasant and peaceful. The evenings…those were interesting. I could watch the tension mount as we prepared to face whatever survived in the house and roamed the night.
The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One collects the ghost hunters’ report, nonfiction experiences of the writers who survived the retreat, and fiction and poetry written during or inspired by our adventures in the house.
My favorite story may be E. S. Magill’s “Not a Drop to Drink,” which more than does justice to the creepy spring-fed pool on the property. S. G. Browne’s “In the Night, In the Dark” is the story that raised goose bumps and made me doubt my resolve to go back to the house in September. Rain’s “The Old House” went in an unexpected direction, but Yvonne Navarro’s “Depictions,” while one of the darkest stories in the book, ended just the way I wanted it to. I didn’t expect Weston Ochse’s “Ghost Meter Blues” to make me laugh, but that was just what I needed to break the tension.
I’m really pleased to have an essay and a short story included in this book — and honored to be holding down the last slot in the table of contents. I always felt, among the crowd at the first Haunted Mansion Retreat, that I would be the Final Girl.
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