Familiar Spirits by Various, Edited by Donald J. Bingle

Eleven tales of shadowy encounters with those yet not moved on. Unfinished business, the need for revenge, or never-ending loneliness keeps them tethered to the plain of the living. Including works by Sarah Hans, Wren Roberts, Jean Rabe, Dolores Whitt Becker, Kate Johnson, and others.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Donald J. Bingle for giving me the opportunity.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I didn’t altogether dread this read, but I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t connect with it due to my personal thoughts on ghost stories; they tend to bore me with their predictability, and even though I don’t avoid them, I’m forever in search of something new to the premise. To put it bluntly, I didn’t anticipate my enjoyment of this at all. I’m happy to say, much to my delight, that Familiar Spirits added a great deal of variety, and I got the impression the intention was to include more unique and imaginative voices. The majority packed some form of emotional punch, be it domestic abuse, the loss of children, or the consequences of past crimes. More than once I almost teared up, and that’s something I treasure in my reading experience.

Whilst I didn’t outright dislike any, I considered some a bit weaker than others. Stepping into October by William Pack, Green Lady by Lynne Handy, and Legend of the Sea Captain by Ric Waters just didn’t tickle my fancy all that much. They were wonderfully written, like all of the additions, but for me they didn’t entail anything special.

My top three:

The Cold Earth by Sarah HansI have power in death I did not possess in life.
This was the first story in this anthology – a tale of vengeance from the grave – and I found myself glued to every word. The narrative was captivating, and the writing engaging. It was told from the perspective of the deceased, which immediately appealed to me. Who cares about the living? The dead are far more interesting; what they feel, how they think. They’re often the villains, the evil force intent on causing harm, but what if there’s more to it? I want more like this; short pieces that leave a mark.

What Happened at the Lake by Wren RobertsShe would play with him forever, if he would just come home.
Initially, this one actually shocked me. I didn’t expect such painful honesty regarding the parenthood of disabled children. It definitely pulled on the heartstrings, and the aspects of horror were subtly weaved into a story of loss. This is where I first felt that nip at the back of my eyes, especially when it came to the ending.

Cold-Nosed and Cold-Hearted by Jean Rabe“Troop’s throaty sound had a way o’ pulling in all the sadness in the world and sending it back out like a thousand women was wailing for men never coming home from war.”
How could a story about ghostly dogs not make its way onto my favourites? I found the style of writing a little jarring at first, what with the emphasis on the accent, but I got used to it. One thing I should mention however, is that I wish it had ended differently. I think I would have really cried if it hadn’t went down the path it did – the moment was ruined.

More of note: All I’ve Got is a Photograph by Dolores Whitt Becker, The New Girl by Kate Johnson, The Hut by Cathy Kern, Statuary by T.S. Rhodes, and Irene by Melaine Waghorne.

In conclusion: I was hoping my last read of 2018 would be a good one, and that came true. I thoroughly enjoyed the focal point on spirits affecting the lives of characters – there was a lot of emotion, proving that ghosts can indeed do more than move furniture.

© Red Lace 2018

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5 Comments on “Familiar Spirits by Various, Edited by Donald J. Bingle

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