The Waiting by Hunter Shea

WAITING
The Waiting by Hunter Shea
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (112 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“Clinging to life, haunted by the dead. ”

Newlywed Cassandra Pagano lies in a state between life and death, her body fed and preserved by the machines at her side. While she struggles, unaware of the world around her, someone waits a boy. A phantom that appears solid, real, “alive.” Cassandra s husband, Brian, sees him in the house, by her bedside, running down darkened hallways. The boy walks without sound, whispers words that can t be deciphered.

Terror and tension are driving Brian to the breaking point. Why is the boy there, and what does he want with Cassandra and her fading soul?

Prolonged stress can crack even the strongest person. Brian is no exception to this rule, but if he wants to help his wife he has to figure out a way to stay whole.

The most important thing any good ghost story needs is the right ambiance. Mr. Shea sets the eerie tone for his tale early on, and from Brian’s very first encounter with the paranormal I looked forward to seeing what the author had in store for his characters. The setting was so subtly frightening that I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

As the plot unfolded I returned to the question of Cassandra’s health over and over again. After how close her family came to losing her I had some trouble believing that her doctors would send such a fragile patient home with what only seemed to be part-time nursing care. This became even more true once I realized that none of her relatives worked in the medical field or had any previous experience with any of the machines that are keeping her alive. It would have been helpful for this issue to have been addressed in more detail early on.

At several different points in the narrative the perspective switches to a secondary character. Each switch happens quickly, and at first I was a little thrown off by how fast it occurs as well as the short amount of time that is dedicated to their experiences. Eventually I understood the author’s reasons for including these scenes, though, and I do think the story is stronger because they were included.

The chilling ending is ultimately what earned this tale its rating. While I figured it out in advance, it fit in well with everything that I learned about the characters in earlier chapters and sent a cold tingle down my spine. One of the reasons why I am such a big fan of the horror genre is how fear can bring out the best and worst of us. This tale is a good example of how that works.

I stayed up late to finish The Waiting, although I wouldn’t recommend doing the same to anyone hoping to get a good night’s sleep. It’s much better to read this book in the middle of the day while ignoring any unusual shadows or heavy footsteps in the corner of the room.

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