The Witching House by Brian Moreland

The Witching House by Brian Moreland
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Horror, Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (103 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Some houses should be left alone.

In 1972, twenty-five people were brutally murdered in one of the bloodiest massacres in Texas history. The mystery of who committed the killings remains unsolved.

Forty years later, Sarah Donovan is dating an exciting man, Dean Stratton. Sarah’s scared of just about everything—heights, tight places, the dark—but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean and another couple on an exploring adventure. The old abandoned Blevins House, the scene of the gruesome massacre, is rumored to be haunted.

The two couples are about to discover the mysterious house has been waiting all these years, craving fresh prey. And down in the cellar they will encounter a monstrous creature that hungers for more than just human flesh.

Every house carries a few secrets, but sometimes answering them introduces more mysteries than it solves.

The only reason Sarah Donovan agrees to go on this trip is to impress her new boyfriend. I immediately questioned her judgement on this decision as she clearly doesn’t enjoy Urban Exploring or ghost hunting, and I couldn’t understand why such a sweet, kind woman would put herself in such an awkward position. Sarah isn’t the type of person to complain, though, and I was impressed by how quickly she adjusts to what the Ghost Squad are planning to do in the Blevins House.

I had difficultly understanding why Dean and Sarah are dating. Sarah seems to be using Dean as a rebound relationship after her divorce, but I was never sure why Dean would want to become emotionally involved with someone who fears so many of the things he loves. I hope their relationship lasts once the initial burst of sexual chemistry wanes, but these two characters share so little in common that I don’t think that is likely. Sarah and Dean easily could have been described as siblings or childhood friends instead without changing what happens later on in the plot, and I think making their relationship a platonic one would have made more sense given everything we learn about their personalities and interests.

The vivid descriptions of key rooms the Blevins House and the deliciously tense atmosphere made me feel like I was exploring everything alongside the Ghost Squad. While I was initially confused by why a seemingly-supernatural creature would still have the need to eat, watching this macabre plot unfold was so absorbing I brushed that question out of my mind until it was time for the answer to be revealed.

While all of the twists employed by The Witching House are standard for paranormal horror stories, there are a few surprises tucked away in unexpected places. I’d recommend this book to anyone who finds old, abandoned houses creepy or wonders what their moldy walls would say if they could speak.

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