Book Review: Seeing Things

Seeing Things, by Sonora Taylor

Middle school is difficult anyway, and it must be much worse when you see blood coming out of a locker, and when you get closer, you see a bloody-faced girl stuck inside the locker. And nobody else in the school can see those things.

Abby has started to see ghosts. It’s a lot for this thirteen-year-old girl. So is the fact that the other students, teachers, the principal, her parents — all of them don’t believe Abby when she claims she sees the poor girl in locker 751.

The locker girl isn’t the only ghost who pops up. There are a handful of others in the school, around town, and seen when Abby visits Uncle Keith at the Massachusetts shore during summer.

That visit brings more drama, since Uncle Keith recently lost his job as a high school English teacher, his long-term girlfriend left him, and there’s a missing student — whom Keith had tutored after school.

Sonora Taylor raises these mysteries and offers information in bits. Abby discovers more as she seeks information on Uncle Keith’s role in the missing student, as well as details of murders on Blueberry Island. And all along, Abby has to deal with seeing blood flowing in different places, and those ghosts.

I liked Abby’s character for her persistence to keep pushing to find out more. She’s understandably scared of her new ability to see ghosts, and understandably frustrated with adults not being more open to sharing info with her. She’s at the age where adults can treat her as if she’s still a child, and they have to stretch to treat her as the young adult she’s becoming.

This is a good story of growing up and trying to navigate more for yourself.

Also, I liked how Sonora Taylor didn’t come up with an antagonist who’s easily definable as just evil. There’s nuance to make for interesting characters.

Book Review: Unboxed

Unboxed, by Briana Morgan

This book was a change from the prose that I mostly read, but I quickly became used to the play’s structure. I really enjoy dialogue in stories, as it’s neat to imagine the characters interacting. The play uses dialogue to move the story forward, as well as fill in a bit of background.

Greg Zipper makes videos exploring the paranormal. He started out with his girlfriend’s (Alice) help, and the project has grown so much as to become his livelihood. He’s bought a house with the earnings, Alice moved in, and she has the financial freedom to work on her art.

That’s the backstory before the action of the play begins. Now Greg is obsessed with growing his video subscribers to a million. His subscriber base is at 700,000. (Which, I would imagine, most people would love to have!) Don’t get me wrong; Greg loves having 700,000 subscribers. However, a million would offer more prestige, more money, a more secure position for his channel: Zipper Paranormal.

Subscribers start leaving because of an argument between Greg and Alice that’s shown on the channel. And Greg wishes even more for a million subscribers.

He turns to the idea of buying a mystery box from the dark web. Then opening it on camera. And that’s when things get creepy for Greg, Alice, and their dog Rocco.

I won’t offer further events of the story, as to not spoil the story. Let’s keep them in a mystery box until you decide to open it and read the story.

But I will say that I enjoyed this story of social media’s influence. This goes beyond the wishes for more likes, retweets, followers. Because Greg’s job is his vlog channel, he has more at stake than the popularity of his image. He’s enjoying making videos so much that he doesn’t want to go back to his former way of making a living.

I liked how Briana Morgan set the stage (so to speak) for a story where the character is desperate to try something dangerous. Greg’s not just desperate for a million subscribers, he comes across as excited to see what’s inside one of those mystery boxes that he’s heard about. That speaks to Greg’s interest in exploring the paranormal, of shining light on spooky things.

A well-done morality tale for modern times.

Book Review: Possession of Natalie Glasgow

Today’s review is of The Possession of Natalie Glasgow, by Hailey Piper.

Eleven-year-old Natalie Glasgow has been acting very strangely at night, and her single mom is understandably concerned. Natalie has gotten out of bed and walked around the house, causing the floorboards to creak from a weight that’s heavier than her actual size. And Natalie has been eating raw meat from the fridge.

The mother, Heather Glasgow, asked a midwife/witch, Margaret Willow, to observe Natalie’s odd behavior to see if she could help. From there, the two women try to figure out what being is possessing the girl and try to get rid of the spirit.

I like that Hailey Piper didn’t snatch low-hanging fruit for the source of the possession of young Natalie Glasgow. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but let’s say rather than offering an easy explanation for the possession, the story has an interesting take on it.

As the story progresses, you keep wondering about the mystery behind the possession, so you’re in the same situation as Natalie’s mom (Heather) and her helper (Margaret), a midwife/witch. These two characters act as detectives in pursuing the mystery so they can help poor Natalie.

The momentum of the book kept my interest going, and the story broadens a bit to include some of Heather’s history before the possession occurs. There’s not a lot of her and Natalie’s back story, but parts are highlighted as to how they affect the family’s current situation.

The story wraps up with a satisfying conclusion — I didn’t feel cheated by the twist. It fits nicely into the story’s weaving. A solid horror story when you want a pretty quick read.

Book Review: Scratches

As we’re in October and Halloween is nearing, I’m going to shift my reviews to those in the horror genre. I’m starting with Scratches, by Joshua Marsella.

Connor and his single mom, Janet, move from an apartment to the family house, after Janet’s father died. Janet has kept secrets from her twelve-year-old son, who never met his grandfather before his death. Janet has not even told Connor about his father.

Of course, Connor is curious about the rest of the family beyond his mother. But she’s tight-lipped about it. Connor makes do with not knowing, and he has to deal with his mother drinking a lot and not acting in a loving way.

Joshua Marsella does a good job setting the scene and building the suspense in this book. When watching horror movies, you can yell at the characters, “Don’t go into the basement! The evil creature’s down there! What are you thinking?!” In this book, not only does Connor go into the basement, he relocates his bedroom down there (saying it’s cooler than the hot bedroom on the ground floor).

Connor is a fan of horror movies and comics, and he experiences horrors down in that basement. (As a fan of comics, I enjoyed Connor reading them and even visiting a comic book store.) The creepiness starts small and builds, the way you want in a scary story. Joshua brings the basement visitations to life with smells and sights and sounds. With these rich descriptions, you can easily imagine what poor Connor goes through.

Connor is persistent in wanting to find out answers behind the creepiness, as well as the family secrets that his mom keeps hidden. Those answers come out, leading to a rush of action in the last chapters. And I give kudos to Joshua for not crafting an ending that neatly wraps up everything. He lets your imagination wonder about what could happen next to the characters.