The Skates by Mark Rigney

The Skates by Mark Rigney
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (47 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A tragedy from the past that will not die.

Reverend Renner’s quiet, well-ordered Michigan life is turned upside down after he purchases a pair of nineteenth-century ice skates at a yard sale. First an enormous black dog takes to following him all over town, and then the skates attach themselves to his feet in the middle of the night. Frightened but curious, Renner seeks help from the one man he’d most like to avoid, ex-linebacker Dale Quist. Together, Renner and Quist work to unravel the mystery of the skates, a potentially fatal task that will lead them to England, and one of London’s greatest historical disasters.

Sometimes the past refuses to be forgotten.

Reverend Renner’s urge to discover what the antique skates are trying to tell him is so strong he can’t ignore it, but even before he takes them home strange things begin happening. Initially, I was taken aback by the idea of a slight, soft-spoken minister toying with paranormal forces, but the author’s vivid descriptions of what was happening to him soon lured me into the action. The pacing was so well executed that it felt like I was watching a movie play out in my mind instead of reading my way from beginning to end. What surprised me even more, though, was a briefly humorous scene during one of the tensest moments in the first half of the tale. I was not expecting to chuckle at that particular place and time, and it was a nice break from the building sense of dread I felt for the protagonists.

The plot would have flowed more smoothly had there been only one narrator for this piece. Switching between Reverend Renner’s and Dale Quist’s perspectives was a little jarring because I couldn’t always tell who was speaking. In a full length novel, readers have ample time to get to know the voices of multiple narrators, but for this particular short story this technique wasn’t as effective as choosing just one of them.

With that being said, Dale’s wry personality and extensive knowledge about haunted objects made me anticipate the scenes that were shown through his eyes. The brief glimpses we’re given of his work with the Grand Traverse Mentalist’s Club made me eager to learn more about how Dale and his fellow club members first became interested in communicating with the spirit world. I didn’t realize that The Skates was part of a series until I started writing my review, but it will be intriguing to see how Mr. Rigney develops all of the characters in this universe over time.

If The Skates is any indication of what is to come in the future, I can’t wait to see what exciting plot twists the sequels have in store. This is a great choice for readers who love being frightened but aren’t in the market for blood or gore. Why not try out a promising new series as it is first released?

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