Tag Archives: Ghost Story

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

dr sleepMy husband is a newspaper man.  He subscribes to his reading material of choice both digitally and in print.  Nothing makes him happier than hearing the thunk of the cling wrapped paper hit our driveway on a Saturday morning.

He reads the papers from cover to cover, but he starts at the back pages for sport.  He knows every sporting result, every match up, every ladder.  He also knows world events, politics, and what’s hot and not this week.  He reads book reviews to get ideas for me, hates Andrew Bolt, and has a special patronising voice that he reserves for reading out the guilt laden and superficial advice from the Body & Soul section.

On Sunday, he savours the broadsheet.  In the morning he uses it as a plate to eat his egg sandwich, yolk and salt dripping on the parts he’s already gotten to; and at night he pours over the extras and inserts while elbowing me in bed as he tries to manoeuvre the 3 metre pages.

So while I can say my husband is an avid reader, it’s normally The Age annual footy guide that takes pride of place on his bedside table.

Last night I went to bed late.  I expected him to be snuggled up with the light off, snoring gently after a hell of a week.  However there he was, legs tucked up to his chin, no blanket, eyes boring holes into the crisp white pages of Stephen King highly anticipated new book.

When he finally looks up, his eyes are wide and he’s bitten his lip.

Holy shit, this book is getting good.’

When I first saw the movie The Shining, there were so many creepy elements that affected me.  The dead twins in the hallway, the trademark Kubrick direction, the 70s bowl haircut on the kid who spoke to his finger, and none more than the hideously sexy ghost who seduces ‘Heres Johnny’ John Torrance and then turns into a naked rotting corpse in his arms.

And it’s only moments into reading the sequel Doctor Sleep that this ghoulish character returns and you’re reminded that you’re back reading the master of the supernatural genre.

The tale picks ups decades after the horror at the Overlook Hotel took place, with little Danny (Doc) Torrance all grown up and battling with the demons of the past.  He’s been drifting, fucking up and trying to escape both his father’s legacy and the events of his childhood that haunt him.  He self-medicates to drown out his ‘shining,’ but soon, remnants of his supernatural abilities re-emerge and the meeting of teenager Abra Stone forces him to go into battle to save her soul.

While a whole bunch of cool mind-reading, ESP, telekinesis stuff goes on between Dan and Abra, there is evil lurking nearby.  A travelling tribe of highway folk called the True Knot are in search of sustenance.  And they want Abra.  Part vampire, part kidnappers, part murderers, they are led by a powerful, engaging, and chillingly evil woman in a top hat who drives an RV.

In true King style, the action and spooks are from start to finish.  There is real substance to Dan’s personal struggles as he fights his demons in a gritty and authentic portrayal of addiction. There is a love story of sorts between an unlikely pair, and the plot is fast moving, uncomplicated and tense.  The baddies are really bad, and the goodies are genuinely flawed.  It also gives the original The Shining more depth and intrigue, as the story travels back in time to Danny’s awful memories of the hotel on the hill.

While there is always a risk of a King ending being just that bit too epic (think the giant spider in IT) the climax here is cleverly crafted and will not disappoint.

In Short: “Holy Shit, this book is getting good.”

The Waiting Room by F.G. Cottam

waiting room

I’ve always loved a ghost story. In fact, I really enjoy scaring the bejesus out of myself by reading spooky tales then daring to walk through the darkened house, peering into shadows, corners and crannies willing a figure to appear, but deep down hoping to Christ it doesn’t. It gives me a little thrill to get my heart rate up high, and then settle back into bed having conquered my fear of getting a glass of water without turning the light on.

Since having a baby, the idea of spirits or bogeymen don’t scare me as much. I think being a parent makes you fear real world threats; like meningococcal disease, kidnappers, private school fees, and wetting your pants when a sneeze catches you by surprise.

However, even the bravest of folk would find it hard not to feel a shiver when delving into The Waiting Room, by FG Cottam.

The waiting room is a derelict building that stands on a railway line that runs through Martin Stride’s country estate. A retired rock-star, and recluse, Stride and his family moved to the country where he hoped his children would flourish and play and breathe the hearty air. Everything changes when Stride’s son begins to hear strange music in the Waiting Room, and sees the ghostly figure of a soldier with a threatening leer on the railway platform.

Stride calls in TV’s most popular ghost hunter, Julian Creed, who is a fake and sceptic at heart. But he is famous and seemingly successful at vanquishing ghouls, so he plays the part and agrees to investigate. And then he spends the night in the Waiting Room…

Scary from the beginning, this story will curl your toes and make you look over your shoulder before turning out the light. The haunting is described so convincingly and cleverly by Cottam, that the reader can feel the cold, the goose-bumps, the quickened pulse and the terror that both lead characters experience.

And it’s not your typical kind of wave the curtains, rattle the windows, play music from an abandoned attic kind of ghost either. He is legitimately threatening, physically aggressive, and his breath smells of decomposing meat.

As the soldier’s history unfolds, he becomes more terrifying, and you’ll devour pages quickly to finally reach what is a satisfying end.

A genuine thriller, this book had me opting to go thirsty at night, and asking my hubby to block his ears while I used our door-less ensuite. There was no way I was walking through the dark house to the other loo after reading this one.

In short: Spine chillingly satisfying