Final RIP XII Post: Two Shorts and Stranger Things 2



It's my last RIP check in and I think I did pretty good this year.

The 24 Hour Readathon happened last weekend and although I didn't officially participate I read a little just to be a tiny part of things. I completed two short stories.


The Open Door by Mrs Oliphant. A British officer retires and chooses to rent a house in Scotland with his family. On the property there are the ruins of an old house, including the remnants of a doorway. Everything is hunky-dory until the winter months arrive. While the officer is away on business, he gets an urgent message: he must return home, his son is dying of "Brain Fever"! He finds his son in bed and anxiously waiting for him. The cause of his condition is his worry over the strange voice he heard over by the ruins. It's up to Dad to discover the source of the voice and save his son from... I dunno, death by ghost voice?

This is a pretty typical haunting story. There's a ghost who's stuck between worlds and needs to find his way to the light, sort of speak. There's a skeptic who looks very foolish. There are locals who the hero treats condescendingly. There's a sense of urgency that you have to buy into. It was...fine.

The Shadows on the Wall by Mary E Wilkins Freeman. This story seemed very familiar to me and about halfway through I realized it was a Night Gallery episode I saw when I was a kid. That episode terrified me. I was afraid of shadows for a while afterwards.

In the short story, a group of siblings gathers for the wake of their dead brother. He had been ill, but the night of his death he and his brother had an argument. The three sisters are afraid of this brother, since he's known to have a temper. Two of the sisters are the first to notice the strange shadow, then the third sister sees it. Finally, the brother notices the shadow and his reaction is one the sisters' feared.

This haunting isn't typical and Freeman gets points for originality. I can see why it was used as the basis for that Night Gallery episode. It's a great visual. The dialogue, however, got on my nerves. There is a lot of whispered, "No, don't speak!" and gasps and shudders from the sisters that were very Victorian fainting couch adjacent. It definitely didn't have the effect the show had on me.



If you watched the first season of Stranger Things, then no doubt you are aware of the second season streaming on Netflix right now. My husband and I watched the whole second season this weekend because we're party animals like that.

It's a year after the events of the first season. Most people in Hawkins have no idea how much danger they were in and the government would like to keep it that way. The people who do know are living with the aftereffects. Joyce is worried about Will who is still suffering the effects of being in the Upside Down. Nancy is wracked with guilt over what happened to Barb. Mike is still searching for Eleven. Eleven herself is in hiding and trying to work out how she fits into a world she's never been a part of before. Meanwhile back at the lab, scientists are doing a terrible job at fixing the mess they made.

You'll read a lot of examinations online (if you look) of whether or not this season is as good as the first. There's also much talk of what critics wanted to see and didn't. I took it for what it was and enjoyed it as much as the first season. They expanded on some storylines, created new ones. Some characters faded into the background, while new ones were introduced. The season starts out slow, but by the end it's as much of a thrill ride as the first. It's pretty great!


The World of Lore: Perfect for RIP... and an Update


Hey all! I'm sitting on my couch trying to will a cold away. It's not really working. Now would be a good time for a post.

Last weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada and it was a good one.The fam and I not only had a great turkey dinner but went to a pumpkin patch and took a day trip to look at the leaves.

Not a bad view

The weather was unbelievable. Just perfect for outdoor activities. I'm so glad we got to enjoy it.

The Readathon is next weekend and though I wish I could participate in the 10 year old (wow) event, I have plans with my family. October is a busy month for me. We have a lot of birthdays in our family that month. I hope everyone else reads a lot of books for me! Maybe I'll lift my Twitter ban and drop in that day to cheer you all on.

Anyway I read another book for RIP XII. It's a perfect fit for the challenge and the season.

The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke 


I have been a big fan of Lore, the podcast, since its beginning, so I knew I'd be reading the book based on the series. I had the chance to listen to the audio version, which is narrated by the author of course. It's much like the podcast, most of the stories are part of that series, but laid out in a cohesive way and the gaps filled in a bit more. There are sections on vampires, fairies, ghosts, gremlins, possessed dolls, legendary creatures like the Jersey Devil. He even gets into haunted places.

The World of Lore is about folklore so the stories should be taken with a grain of salt. Not that they aren't true, just ask my cousin's boyfriend's aunt's hairdresser. If you want a more realistic delving into folklore, check out Ghostland by Colin Dickey. I would have liked more original material, but this is a great way to introduce people who don't listen to podcasts to, well, The World of Lore. (There's also an Amazon series. He's covering every format.) The non-audio version is illustrated, so that's a bonus. I might have to check that out. If you like creepy folklore, you should enjoy this one.

I received this review copy from Penguin Random House Audio via Volumes. All opinions are my own.

RIP XII: Two Short Stories of Haunted Houses


I always make a bit of time for short stories during RIP. The horror genre is perfect for short form writing. People have been sitting around in the dark trying to scare each other with their tales since forever. You don't need a lot of explanation or exposition to get your point across. "I was in this place, some creepy things happened, the end."

The following stories follow that formula perfectly. In fact, they are almost the same story but with a few details changed. Let's take a look.

An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street by Joesph Sheridan Le Fanu. Two Irish cousins keep house in the family's rental property in Dublin, unaware of its haunted reputation. Not long after settling in the narrator's sleep is disturbed by terrible dreams. His cousin unceremoniously vacates the house, leaving him alone to experience harrowing encounters.

The Haunted and the Haunters by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. A English gentleman hears of a haunted house for rent and spends the night there with his servant and dog. Immediately, the group is harassed by spirits. The servant flees and leaves the narrator alone to witness a ghostly visitation.

Since I read both stories within 24 hours of each other, I couldn't help but compare the two. I ended up liking Le Fanu's story more for a few reasons. First, the protagonist is a more likable character. He and his cousin are just trying to make their way in the world. Being medical students, they try to save a few pennies by staying in a recently purchased family property. They are just minding their own business when the events occur. On the other hand, Lytton's hero is looking for trouble. He's a guy with money and little else to do, so why not rent a haunted house for funsies?

I also like a ghost story where the hauntings are more psychological. In Aungier St, the narrator experiences dreams, he hears more of the ghost than he sees. In the end, the cousin relates the experience that drove him from the house to the narrator, which helps put the pieces all together. The Haunted's ghosts are right in the narrators face from the start. They are not shy! They even put on a little play for the narrator that reminded me of- don't laugh- Garfield's experience in Garfield's Halloween Adventure. (I must have watched that show about a million times when I was a kid.)

The Haunted and the Haunter's protagonist is a "rational" man and takes pains to tell the reader how he had to be courageous and not give into fear. He goes into some theories about ghosts, including some discussion of mediums and mesmerism. It's a very Victorian point of view, but also a bit like Ancient Aliens, where a quas-scientific explanation is given which doesn't hold up to much scrutiny. The alternative title is The House and the Brain, so...

The Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street, on the other hand, is just a straight up ghost story, as the narrator points out in the first sentences.
It is not worth telling, this story of mine--at least, not worth writing. Told, indeed, as I have sometimes been called upon to tell it, to a circle of intelligent and eager faces, lighted up by a good after-dinner fire on a winter's evening, with a cold wind rising and wailing outside, and all snug and cosy within, it has gone off--though I say it, who should not--indifferent well.
The narrator knows the right atmosphere for this story, and as cousin Tom is dearly departed, there is no one to refute his claims. You have to decide whether or not to believe him. It helped that I read this during a thunderstorm. Perfection!

I'd still recommend both, as they are short and available for free. On Project Gutenberg:
An Account of Some Strange Disturbances on Aungier Street / The Haunted and the Haunters.