Tag Archives: ghost story

Book Review: Be Still, My Love by Deborah J. Hughes (A Haunting in Maine)

A Haunting in Maine, and it’s not a story by Stephen King!

I always enjoy reading Deborah Hughes’ real-life ghost stories and paranormal tales on her blog: Ghostly Dramas, so I eagerly snapped up her novel, Be Still, My Love, and last weekend, I spent a rainy couple of days curled up on the couch with my brand new Kindle and this ghostly tale.

This novel was perfect company for the current wintry weather we’re experiencing in Cork.  I was thrilled to learn it’s set in Maine, a place I myself refer to as Stephen King land.  With star-crossed lovers in the form of ghosts, a medium (though she doesn’t like to be called that) and waves crashing against a rocky shore, I had a feeling this tale would be right up my alley.

Tess has spent the past two years grieving for her husband who was killed by a drunk driver.  On her doctor’s orders, she heads off on a three week break to Sea Willow Haven resort which is said to be haunted.  While there, Tess gradually comes back to the world of the living and reconnects with her spirituality.  She is determined to get to the bottom of the strange happenings at the resort, though she doesn’t bargain for the friendships she makes and her attraction to ex-Marine, Kade.

I like characters that are flawed.  Tess has all but given up on living when she arrives at Sea Willow.   Her life ended when her husband’s and dog’s did, and now she chain-smokes through her days, her gaze set firmly on the past.  Even her therapist has had enough of her, and so off Tess goes to Maine, to get away from the home where she now lives alone, depressed and unwilling to look to the future.  She finds her way back to her faith through spending time with others and I found that I too enjoyed spending time with Tess and her new friends.

One thing I would have liked to see more of was a little spice between Tess and Kade.  The man is an ex-soldier for crying out loud. Fictional soldiers are always hot and Tess deserved a little romantic action.  I did find this novel quite long and felt a shorter book would have done the story more justice.  Tess’s beliefs and faith are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  I accepted that and was able to enjoy spending time with her.

Read at your leisure and enjoy the easygoing pace.  A gentle tale with a superb, haunting setting.  ***

Check it out on Amazon HERE

I’m always on the lookout for a good ghost story. I’d love to hear some suggestions?


Film Review: The Awakening (Visually Stunning Haunted House Story)

What should a ghost debunker do when she actually sees a ghost? I’d suggest browsing the Classifieds for a new job.

Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall of The Town) is invited to investigate a possible haunting in a boys’ boarding school by Robert Mallory (Dominic West).  It’s 1921 in England and the after effects of the First World War are still being felt.  Cathcart is a sceptic (think Dana Scully from an earlier era) and is grieving for a man who was lost in the war.  She now busies herself with her work as a ghost debunker and author.  The untimely death of her parents when she was a child is most likely what led to her unusual choice of occupation, and we wonder exactly how they died.   Mallory has his own demons to battle; he still suffers physically and mentally from his time as a soldier.

The drama movies quickly from London to the bleak rural countryside, and a boys’ boarding school that reeks of loneliness, something Cathcart herself is all too familiar with.  She is introduced to Tom, an orphan of the school and the housekeeper Maud who are delighted to have her there.  It’s enjoyable to watch her set up the old-school ghost detection/people trapping gadgets around the house.  She immediately notices the bullying going on between the pupils, the brutality of one of the teachers and the abject loneliness of the place.

An overwhelmingly gloomy greyness seeps from the screen, effectively capturing the sense of an old-fashioned chiller movie.  Maud (Imelda Staunton) reminded me of the housekeeper from The Others, so I was suspicious of her right from the beginning.  The dreary weather and gloom of post-war England add to the unsettling atmosphere, and the costumes and hair styles are great, as you would expect of any good period drama.  Visually the film is flawless, but the pacing could have used some work.

The most disturbing scene in the film for me involved Cathcart and the doll house.  My nerves were on edge the entire time just waiting for something bad to happen.  I felt that Cathcart’s sanity started to unravel too quickly and the first half was much better than the second.   Around the hour mark I began to lose interest, but the actors’ skills kept me watching until the end.  I was expecting something a little more haunting from this film.  It had all the ingredients for an intriguing ghost story: the recent death of a child, a huge, country estate that looks like it should be haunted, the housekeeper that seems to know too much, a ghost hunter…but I didn’t love it.  The acting and setting were impressive, providing a chilling atmosphere, but the film was let down by a sloppy third act. ***