Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jason Parent's Seeing Evil - Exclusive Excerpt and {Giveaway} #SeeingEvil


Stepping back so as not to alarm the child, Samantha scanned Michael for wounds, but she couldn't find the source of the blood. She hoped it wasn't Michael's, but she saw no evidence, no tracks or prints, that suggested Michael had been anywhere near the bodies. Then again, shouldn't he be in a crib or something? What's he doing in here? There's no part of this that he should have been forced to witness. 

Samantha moved in for a closer look. His hands rested on his thighs, the blood on them dry and cracking on his skin. Something protruded from beneath them, something dark and metallic.

Samantha gasped. "Michael, don't move, okay?"

Michael seemed oblivious to her presence, swaying to a beat only he could hear. It was as though she wasn't part of the world he was seeing. Slowly, she reached for the object with the caution of one taking a bone from a snarling dog. Only Michael wasn't snarling. He seemed uninterested in her, still rocking and staring blankly through her, unblinking and locked on that same focal point.

Maybe he's in shock. Maybe he does understand what happened here. His unresponsiveness was certainly beyond mere willful ignorance. Samantha didn't think he would notice if she lit a firecracker in front of him. He seemed out of touch with reality. For the moment, Samantha preferred him that way.

With a hand as steady as a surgeon's, Samantha reached for the pistol Michael was huddled over like a bear protecting her cub. She avoided contact with him, fearful of what would happen if she disturbed his trancelike state. Her fingers treaded over the barrel, searching for its grip.

She pulled the handgun, a black Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm, from beneath Michael. The barrel brushed against his thigh. With cold, empty eyes bulging open like those of the drowning, Michael gazed into Samantha's. She felt exposed, as if with only a look, the child could delve into the recesses of her mind, revealing her every secret. The thought terrified her. So did Michael.

With reflexes beyond one of his age, Michael grabbed the gun with both hands. Samantha quickly pulled it away. Unnerved as she was, she still had Michael's safety at the forefront of her mind. She removed the weapon from the boy's reach, at all times conscious of its threat. When she found the safety smeared in blood, she clicked it on and breathed a sigh of relief. As she'd expected, there had been a bullet in the chamber. She dropped the gun into an open evidence bag held by Tagliamonte.

Michael's eyes remained on her. They were blue and cloudy like the sky before a rainbow, a fire as bright as the sun burning behind them. His mouth creaked open as though tiny gears controlled its laborious motion. When his chin dropped so low it nearly rested on his throat, a sound, low and indistinguishable at first, emitted from somewhere deep within the boy. As it amplified, its sharp clamor made Samantha's blood ice within her veins.

At once, Samantha knew that not only did Michael comprehend what had happened to his parents, but also that he felt it in the worst sort of way. His wail was ghostly and ghastly, the cry of one seized by agony. Samantha was afraid, both for him and of him, and of what such trauma might cause him to become. Backing away, not knowing how to comfort the lost child, Samantha knew it would not be the last she would see of Michael.

About the book

Fate in plain sight.

Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?

Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.

About the author
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit Jason on Facebook, on Twitter, or at his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

Praise for Seeing Evil
“… Parent writes in such a fluid, mesmerizing and realistic way that I found I couldn’t stop!” – My So-Called Book Reviews

“Seeing Evil is one of those books that takes off at a fast pace and doesn't slow down.” – Carries Book Reviews

“Jason Parent tortures us right alongside his characters. The world building is excellent and very real.” – I’m a Voracious Reader

“…one of the best suspense thrillers I have read in a very long time. In lesser hands it would have been a decent read but the author's skill in setting the scene, character development, and story telling makes this a far superior novel.” – Book Nutter’s Book Reviews

“Seeing Evil has some very special moments and is a very fast read. There's no denying Parent has talent.” Glenn Rolfe, author of Blood and Rain, Boom Town, and Abram’s Bridge

“Wow! That was just brilliant! Every single chapter straight from the very beginning had me gripped.” – Andrew Lennon, author of Keith and A Life to Waste, a Novel of Violence and Horror

“Superbly fast paced from beginning to end meaning you will not want to put it down. A plot that will keep you guessing to the very end but not in a confusing way. Brilliant characters that gel together perfectly. A bloody good book.” – Confessions of a Reviewer

“This is one seriously entertaining, thought provoking read.” – Adam Light, author of Taken, Toes Up, and The Corpus Corruptum

“This book was a police procedural/thriller/psychological horror story-it doesn't neatly fit into any category except for: ‘damn fine read’.” – Char’s Horror Corner

“The entire story was strong, driven, and merciless in all regard from beginning to end. Even when you think you know where it's going, there's yet another--logical--twist.” Horror After Dark

“Seeing Evil is a perfectly-paced book, with intriguing characters and white-knuckle, edge of your seat tension. The villain is particularly haunting in an all-too-plausible way, and even a few days after having finished reading the events of the book are still vividly etched in my mind. Parent's writing here is top notch - sleek, efficient and with surprising emotional depth.” – Evans Light, author of Arboreatum, Screamscapes, and Harmlessly Insane.

Buy the book

Sign up to enter to win one of five books from Jason Parent! There is one print copy of Seeing Evil, one print copy of Bad Apples 2 collection, 1 e-book of What Hides Within, and one e-book of Dead Roses. All winners get Seeing Evil bookmarks! Random draw chooses winner. First name drawn receives first prize, and so on. Any giveaway questions may be forwarded to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist,

Click the link to enter:

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Works of Xavier Axelson - Exclusive Excerpt and {Giveaway} #AxelsonBlitz #HalloweenReads

Earthly Concerns is an erotic nightmare, with a fable element. It really is a story about the power of generosity, generosity of spirit and the price of selfishness. While there is an erotic romance involved, there are forces at work in the story that scare me and hopefully will frighten readers too. Enjoy this special excerpt….

Earthly Concerns Excerpt

The psychic echoes coming from the broken cars overwhelmed me. It wasn’t until Barrett spoke that I felt the vibrations settle. His voice sounded far away.

“Here it is,” he said.

I felt my heart stumble and my stomach fall. “My God.” I could hear the shock in my own voice. The entire front of the car was gone. I found it hard to drag my eyes from the missing front end. The attendant walked away, the sound of gravel under his feet crunching. “How are you not dead?” I asked before moving closer to the wreck. There were such strong vibrations, smells, and emotions coming off the remains that I wasn’t sure what to tune into, it felt chaotic and cruel.

“I don’t know,” was Barrett’s succinct answer.

I shook my head. “I bet you don’t.” I inched closer, held my hand out and resisted the urge to walk back to my car and leave. Something dark was emanating from the wreckage. I could feel my senses begin to tremble with the anticipation of a vision.

“Should I leave you alone?”

“No!” I heard the edge in my voice, looked back and saw his head drop. “No, I need you to show me where Hilary was sitting.”

“Do you feel anything?” he asked hopefully.

“Barrett, where was she sitting?” I followed him as he moved past me and walked to the back of the car.

“She was sitting just behind me,” Barrett said as he opened the back door.

A sickening smell, animal-like and fetid, poured from the opening. We both fell away from the car as if we had been hit.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Barrett yelled and then started coughing.

My eyes began to burn and I could not only smell the horrid stench, but could also taste it, and what I tasted wasn’t just rank, it was evil. I shook my head violently, forced a hand across my mouth and edged closer. I could still hear Barrett gasping and coughing behind me when I looked into the back seat and saw the place where Hilary had been sitting now empty, blackened, as if something had reached from hell itself and burned it with a demonic blaze.

I reached forward, fingers twitching; I had to touch it. Sounds began to screech through my mind; the shrieking brakes, glass shattering and behind each sound the wail of a little girl.


Then the thing, the blackness, I saw it reach with sharp curving claws, heard the nerve shattering sound of teeth grinding and a voice that shut out all the lights in my head.

You or her?

Then it was gone.

About the books of Xavier Axelson

Earthly Concerns

Between love and loss, there is obligation…
It was a peaceful night when Barrett and his daughter were driving home… then something happened. Something sinister.

Between shadow and light, there is uncertainty…
Now the only person Barrett can turn to for help is Anson, a man gifted with psychic abilities beyond reason. But Anson is also his ex-boyfriend, a man whose heart he’d already broken.

If you can see, you have to help.
As Anson delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding Barrett’s accident, he begins to realize that he’s not only in a race against time, but in a battle against his own broken heart and the terrifying understanding that whatever has taken Barrett’s child is a force of evil beyond anything either man has ever encountered.

And between decision and consequences, there are… Earthly Concerns


What does one say when they realize their child is gone? Better yet, what does one say when that child returns, but is different?

This is the question Pryor must ask himself after his daughter, Lily, is dragged into the woods by a wolf and her body is never found. It isn't until he sees a wolf in the woods with eyes that resemble Lily's that he feels hope. And then something is whispered from deep within the woods, a promise for him to see Lily again.

One day...

But which day and for how long?

And then Pryor meets Ned, a silversmith who brings out desires that Pryor hasn't felt in years and helps him hatch a plan to keep Lily with him.

Now the question isn't about how much time Pryor will have with Lily, it's about how far he'll go to keep her with him.

About the author
Xavier Axelson is a writer and columnist living in Los Angeles. Xavier's work has been featured in various erotic and horror anthologies. Longer written works include The Incident, Velvet, and Lily. Xavier covers Fringe Culture for the Los Angeles Examiner. Connect with Xavier on his website at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Praise for Xavier Axelson’s work
“This book was an excellent short read. It has a little bit of everything. Lost love, tragedy, paranormal beings, and the hint at a second chance.” Close Encounters with the Night Kind

“I really liked the psychic element to the story, sometimes in books that just isn't done very well or done in a very cliché way, but I found it came across very well in this read.” Book Devotee Reviews

“Axelson writes from the emotions and in doing so he draws the reader in. It is close to impossible not to react to his stories.” Reviews by Amos Lassen

 Buy the books

Earthly Concerns


Enter to win either a copy of Lily (2 e-book format to giveaway) or a copy of Earthly Concerns (2 e-book format to giveaway). Anyone may enter. Questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, Hook of a Book Media,

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hunter Shea's The Dover Demon - Blog Tour and Author Interview {Giveaway}

A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon.

Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link:

Follow along the tour using the hashtags #TheDoverDemon #HunterSheaLovesCryptids #Monsters #Cryptozoology #cryptids

Interview with Hunter Shea

CM: First of all, I would like to thank Hunter for joining me today and taking the time for this interview.

Hunter: Thank you so much for having me here! We writers love getting out of the lair every now and then and talking to the living. ;)

CM: Your new novel, The Dover Demon, was recently released. Congrats! Can you tell us a little about it?

Hunter: The Dover Demon is based on an actual sighting of a strange creature over a two night period in 1977 in the bucolic town of Dover, MA. Six teenagers saw an upright, skinny, peach-colored being with a bulbous head and large, orange eyes in the woods in three different locations. What today we might call an alien or Gray, back then was an unknown animal or perhaps paranormal entity. It truly frightened the witnesses, and no one has ever recanted their story.

With my book, I ask the question – what if it was seen by other teens those nights, and what they saw was so perplexing, so terrifying, they were not only too afraid to tell anyone, but it also changed the course of their lives? It’s present day, those teens are in their 50’s and the Dover Demon is back!

CM: Was there an inspiration behind the writing of Dover Demon

Hunter: I was visiting the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME and got to talking with the owner, famed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. I was writing my cryptid book, The Montauk Monster, at the time. I asked him if there was a cryptid that didn’t get enough love and attention. He pointed me to the Dover Demon. He was on the scene in 1977 when the news broke and gave it its name. How could I resist? Plus, the story itself is so strange, almost otherworldly. I was hooked from the get-go.

CM: Horror is a great genre, but have you ever thought about writing in a different genre? Perhaps historical fiction or mainstream fiction? If yes, what would you write about?

Hunter: Absolutely. I’ve been mulling over a few non-horror ideas for a couple of years now. I’ve led an unconventional life, always shunning the easy road. I think because of that, I’ve had several lifetimes of experiences, both wondrous and strange. I’d like to write a mainstream novel about a family going through hard times and how they cope, or don’t cope, with the obstacles they face or even put in their own way. My wife and one daughter are handicapped, and I keep leaning toward writing something about coping with those challenges that goes beyond not sweating the small stuff. We’ve been through hell together, and I don’t think we’d be as strong a family without those diversities. Any kind of debilitating ailment takes its toll on the person with it and the people who love them. I think we’ve done a pretty good job facing everything. Maybe there’s something we can teach others going through the same thing.

CM: Over the past few months, I’ve read Island of the Forbidden and Tortures of the Damned, two novels I enjoyed immensely. How do these books differ from The Dover Demon

Hunter: If I was to categorize them and drop them in buckets, they would be Ghosts, Apocalypse, Cryptids. Island is the third in a series of novels I’ve written about a ghost hunting family. When I walk into that world, it feels familiar, like coming back home to a haunted house. Tortures is a non-stop thriller with real-life horrors. With The Dover Demon, you get a cool monster story, with that little niggling knowledge that it’s based on something real, which makes it all the more terrifying.

CM: I read in your Goodreads bio that you’re an amateur cryptozoologist. I think that’s incredibly cool! I’ve always had a fascination with Bigfoot (I wrote a report on it when I was in the 7th grade) and I’ve passed that fascination on to my 14 year old son. Have you learned anything interesting in the field that I can report to my son? 

Hunter: Yes, with all the technology we have at our disposal, we still, incredibly, don’t have many answers. No matter. I like to think that our world is vaster and stranger than we think. I’m beginning to fall into the rising school of thought that things like UFOs, ghosts and cryptids/monsters all come from the same nebulous place. People who study these phenomena need to pool their resources and see all of the commonalities. I don’t know what it all means, but I think it may be hiding in plain sight.

CM: Tell us a little bit about your Monster Men podcast with Jack Campisi. What can we expect when we tune in? And how do we tune in, by the way? 

Hunter: The Monster Men is two guys who love horror. We talk about movies, books, monsters, going on ghost hunts, interviewing people who create fresh horrors and just have a lot of fun with it. The list of people who want to be on the show is enormous now! We’ve had to step up our game so we can meet the demand. Expect a ton more interviews with authors and directors very soon. You can find us on our YouTube channel, Monster Men 13, or our website, We’re the most watched video horror podcast in the world and coming up on our 100th episode!

CM: Have you been inspired by any particular books or movies? What is your favorite horror novel and/or movie? 

Hunter: I’m inspired by tons of horror books and movies. It’s impossible to pick one or even a few out of the bunch. They all banded together to make me who I am. I do love Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life. Pure perfection in storytelling. Some of my favorite movies are Alien, The Haunting, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Funhouse.

CM: What books would we find on your nightstand? Any recommendations (besides your own books, of course)? 

Hunter: Got a few on the nightstand now that it’s Horrortober. For horror I have Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland, The Deep by Nick Cutter, We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk. I also have a Joe Picket novel by C.J. Box, going to reread The Garden of Eden by Hemingway and a few others at the bottom of the pile. There is never a shortage of reading material in my house.

CM: And last, but not least, what do you have in store for your readers next?

Hunter: Well, in 2016 I’ll have another cryptid novel out through Pinnacle. I can’t reveal the monster yet, but I know it will have people excited. My next Samhain novella, I Kill in Peace, will be released in April. This is a total departure for me and I took some big chances. It won’t be for the faint of heart and definitely not for the politically correct. I’m also hoping that my first novel for Severed Press, They Rise, will be out next year, too. It’s a sea monster book that is just flat out crazy.

CM: Thanks again for joining me today, Hunter. I look forward to many more years of great horror to share here at Castle Macabre.

Hunter: Thank you! Keep on flying the horror flag!

About The Dover Demon
File Size: 1032 KB
Print Length: 242 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Barnes and Noble

Praise for Hunter Shea~
“This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read! This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

Hunter Shea Biography~
Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Tortures of the Damned, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors, and anyone else living in the horror lane.

He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Season of the Witch is here! The Bell Witch - Discussion Week I #witchseasoncm

It's officially October and Season of the Witch has arrived! We are reading along the book The Bell Witch by John F.D. Taff (in conjunction with my TuesBookTalk read-a-long group on Goodreads). There will also be some spooky guest posts this month and I'm hoping to share some interesting stuff and perhaps more Edgar Allan Poe (because his stuff never gets old, right?). I'd still like more guests so if you're game, just let me know. 

So, this is week one of our discussion of Part I of The Bell Witch and boy were we treated to a lot of information in this first part. Before we jump in, I would like to share a little bit of the story of the Bell Witch, as this is based on a legend surrounding a real Tennessee family from the 19th century. I live in Tennessee so it's really a story of interest in our neck of the woods.

The below information was found on Wikipedia so may not be completely accurate. For a more detailed and extensive account, visit The Bell Witch Website.

An artist's sketching of the Bell home, originally published in 1894
The Bell Witch or Bell Witch Haunting is a poltergeist legend from Southern folklore, centered on the 19th-century Bell family of Adams, Tennessee.

John Bell Sr., who made his living as a farmer, resided with his family in Adams, Tennessee in the early 1800s. In 1817, his family came under attack by a witch, who was believed to be a lady called Kate Batts. Various accounts written afterward, tell stories similar to other poltergeist legends. It began with noises in the walls and grew to include unusual sounds, people being slapped and pinched, objects being thrown, and animals being spooked without visible cause.

In the 1894 book An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch, author Martin Van Buren Ingram claims that the poltergeist's name was Kate, and that she frequently cursed the Bell family out loud. The activity centered on the Bells' youngest daughter, Betsy, and worsened after she became engaged to one Joshua Gardner.

Several accounts report that during his military career, Andrew Jackson was intrigued with the story and was frightened away after traveling to investigate. Other stories relate that the family was haunted by scratching noises outside their door after Bell found a half-dog, half-rabbit creature. Some stories end up with Bell being poisoned by the witch. Accounts vary about the witch being someone who had been cheated by Bell or a male slave whom Bell had killed.

The only known account of the haunting prior to Ingram's publication was in 1886, more than 60 years after the events. This one paragraph in the Goodspeed Brothers book History of Tennessee does not mention Andrew Jackson or the death of Bell Sr.:

A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the "Bell Witch." This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The feats it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfort of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary.

Paranormal investigator Benjamin Radford, as well as Brian Dunning, conclude that there is no evidence that Andrew Jackson visited the Bell family home. During the years in question, Jackson's movements were well documented, and nowhere in history or his writings is there evidence of his knowledge of the Bell family. According to Dunning, "The 1824 Presidential election was notoriously malicious, and it seems hard to believe that his opponent would have overlooked the opportunity to drag him through the mud for having lost a fight to a witch."

All of the above accounts of the legend are drawn from two sources. In part, the Goodspeed article was a source, but newspaper publisher Martin Van Buren Ingram provided most of the material. Seventy-five years after the Bell Witch events, he wrote An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch. Ingram states that he based his book on the diary of Richard Bell, who was a son of John Bell Senior. The events happened when Richard Bell was 6–10 years old, but he didn't write the diary until he was 30. According to Brian Dunning no one has ever seen this diary, and there is no evidence that it ever existed: "Conveniently, every person with firsthand knowledge of the Bell Witch hauntings was already dead when Ingram started his book; in fact, every person with secondhand knowledge was even dead." Dunning also concluded that Ingram was guilty of falsifying another statement, that the Saturday Evening Post had published a story in 1849 accusing the Bells' daughter Elizabeth of creating the witch. That article does not exist either.

According to Radford, the Bell Witch story is an important one for all paranormal researchers: "It shows how easily legend and myth can be mistaken for fact and real events and how easily the lines are blurred" when sources are not checked. Dunning wrote that there was no need to discuss the supposed paranormal activity until there was evidence that the story was true. "Vague stories indicate that there was a witch in the area. All the significant facts of the story have been falsified, and the others come from a source of dubious credibility. Since no reliable documentation of any actual events exists, there is nothing worth looking into."

Dunning concludes, "I chalk up the Bell Witch as nothing more than one of many unsubstantiated folk legends, vastly embellished and popularized by an opportunistic author of historical fiction." Radford reminds readers that "the burden of proof is not on skeptics to disprove anything but rather for the proponents to prove... claims".

Joe Nickell has written that many of those who knew Betsy suspected her of fraud and the Bell Witch story "sounds suspiciously like an example of “the poltergeist-faking syndrome” in which someone, typically a child, causes the mischief."

Interesting stuff!

An artist's drawing of Betsy Bell, originally published in 1894
So, now that we have the history of the legend, we can delve in to the first part of the novel. In Part I, we get the set up. Betsy Bell has been tormented frequently by nightmares, but they're more like waking nightmares, as she feels like someone is literally lying atop her, holding her down, forcing themselves on her. Did anyone else hear alarm bells going off? Then we're treated to the next morning with Betsy's mom, Lucy, asking Betsy about her nightmares and then, when Betsy says she doesn't want to talk about it, this: "Part of Lucy, buried and ashamed, relaxed with Betsy's answer." Now what exactly is behind that reaction? 

The same night that Betsy experienced another dreadful waking nightmare, the chimney exploded. Another strange occurrence. And then, not too long after these events, Betsy falls ill and then falls under a coma-like state. 

I won't go into too much detail about the various events in Part I, as we all read it. But I will say that there were definitely some creepy moments. How about when the three young Bell brothers go into that cave and the voice speaks to Williams Bell? Terrifying. 

At the root of this story, there are definitely some family problems. Jack seems to be a tyrant-like family leader and possibly abusive, physically perhaps...definitely emotionally. He is also abusive toward his slaves. There is also the belief that he is having an affair with the Batts woman which is another betrayal of the family. Then we have various innuendos throughout, such as "Then he saw something in Lucy's face, something unfamiliar and alien, angry and knowing. He turned away, staring at the floor." This was Jack after he tried furiously to wake Betsy from her newfound coma state. It really makes me wonder what's really going on at the root of this story. 

More insight into the family trouble issue is seen when schoolmaster Richard Powell (who has a thing for Betsy) shares his thoughts with Lucy on the theory that the occurrences in the house and with Betsy could be from a form of hysteria experienced in young girls of Betsy's age. This immediately had me thinking of Stephen King's Carrie. Perhaps Betsy has experienced some type of abuse from a man in her social circle which could perhaps bring on a form of telekinesis...a way for her to vent her frustration and anger. Of course, this is all theory and speculation on my part as well. HaHa.

Oh, and let's not forget that mysterious horned and cloven hoofed figure Jack Bell keeps seeing. Another decidedly creepy aspect of this story. It seems the devil is at his door. What has Jack done to warrant such attentions, I wonder? 

All will be revealed (I hope)!

What were your thoughts on this first Part of The Bell Witch?

Note: "Cursed: The Bell Witch" an A&E series premiers October 26th. Details here.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe - The Fall of the House of Usher - Discussion

I'm quite behind with this final Gothic September read-a-long discussion. The month got away from me.

So, I finished reading last night and I was struck by how much I confused this story with some other story...I'm not even sure which. It's my pesky Vincent Price obsession again. I think he had starred in another movie that I thought was this, besides starring in the actual production of the Fall of the House of Usher film, which I watched last night as well.

I enjoyed this story, but I have to admit that I actually liked Ligeia best out of all three stories read for this event. Poe is a genius, as always, evoking a gloomy and Gothic atmosphere and a sense of something hidden beneath the surface of what shows in the daylight.

In the book version, the narrator is an old friend of Usher's from school and he visits to find his old friend in a not so healthy state, along with his twin sister. In the movie version, the narrator (or main character) is an acquaintance of Madeline, Usher's sister. He is intent on taking her from the house with the big crack in the facade (weird), saving her from her fate. It seems that the Ushers' health is directly tied to the health of the house, and as the house decays, so do they. At least, that was my observation.

***********Spoiler Alert**************

So, in both versions, things escalate and someone is buried alive (you can probably guess who). In the book version, entirely by accident. In the movie, not so much. In both cases, revenge ensues and at end, we are treated to the "Fall of the House of Usher"...hence the name. 

I have really enjoyed reading these Poe tales and I plan to continue sharing some of his works during Season of the Witch this month. I hope you will visit and perhaps join us for The Bell Witch read-a-long.

I'm also hosting a read-a-long of Stephen King's Salem's Lot at my Stephen King challenge blog. Feel free to join in.

And don't forget about the FrightFall Read-a-Thon coming up next week!

October is here!!!

Also read for (and movie watched for)...

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