New Release Roundup

Mitzi Weinhaus is the untalented daughter of two Munich Kabarett stars. One night, in an underground club that has so far escaped Nazi detection, she meets the enigmatic singer Giselle, who offers her the chance to be a hero. Teamed up with the mysterious Wolfrik, for whom she develops an alarming attraction, Mitzi soon finds herself ensnared in a world of secret societies, super-soldiers, monsters, and gods. With double-crosses on all sides, can she save her parents from certain death—and her heart from one of the most powerful beings in the universe?
Available at Devine Destinies and Amazon.

Humor, adventure, romance, tragedy, and joy—FROM A CAT’S VIEW is a novel-length, mixed-genre collection of short stories that will tug at the whiskers of cat lovers everywhere. This unique anthology is drawn from a pool of exceptional writers in the US and the UK, who share fascinating insights into the relationship between humans and their feline owners.
Available at Amazon.

An annual anthology of strange and darksome tales, which this year profiles the work of 21 contemporary scribes: V.H. Leslie, J.T. Glover, Joanna Parypinski, Steve Rasnic Tem, L.S. Johnson, Daniel Braum, M. Lopes da Silva, Mathew Allan Garcia, April Steenburgh, Charles Wilkinson, Farah Rose Smith, Armel Dagorn, Cate Gardner, Jackson Kuhl, Christi Nogle, Ross Smeltzer, Jennifer Loring, Tim Jeffreys, Elana Gomel, Mike Weitz, Kirsty Logan.

“A very promising anthology.” —Ellen Datlow, Best Horror of the Year

“An annual highlight of the genre.” —Anthony Watson, Dark Musings

“Weirdness with truth at its heart.” —Des Lewis, Real-Time Reviews
Available at Amazon.

We believe in ghosts. Do you? Expecting the usual? Please don’t. You won’t find haunted houses, spirit infested graveyards, demonic poltergeists, or possessed objects in these pages. It’s been said that there are no haunted places, only haunted people. That’s who you’ll find here, the haunted ones. A maintenance technician in remote Alaska, an English thief, a young couple on a road trip across America, an astronaut on a one way ride to Jupiter, an Irish gravedigger, and dozens more. All victims of an otherworldly infection, all tormented by a plague of shadows. Do you believe in ghosts? You will.
Available at Amazon.

Now available: Conduits Audiobook

Mara is a Japanese-American girl with a history of personal tragedy. Though she still cuts herself to quell the pain, she thought the worst was behind her. But her boyfriend’s sudden death, and a visit to one of the most haunted places in Washington State, sends her into a spiral of madness, landing her in a psychiatric ward.

Already suffering from dreams of a strange, ghost-infested house in the woods, Mara begins to question the very existence of reality. She is forced to confront the truth about her older sister’s death and the reason the ghosts have chosen her as their conduit.

Purchase on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

Grave’s End

I had already written a post on Grave’s End when our Evil Overlord informed us that we were to write our posts as if Elaine Mercado’s account of her haunted house were in fact true. It’s easy to suspend disbelief when you’re reading/writing something that does not claim to be anything but fiction. That suspension is more difficult to attain when someone is telling you their house is haunted and nearly begging you to believe them. I have experienced strange phenomena myself, but what made this so hard for me was Mercado herself. She seems very emotionally troubled, so lacking in self-esteem that the “haunting” appeared to be an attempt to feel special for once in her life. Whereas the opportunistic Lutzes of Amityville made me want to kick them in the teeth, Mercado made me feel sorry for her. Were the family dynamics not so awkward and embarrassing to read, I might have had an easier time writing this. As it is, I’m not sure I’ve been able to accomplish what Scott has asked of us, but here is my post anyway.

I have actually experienced two of the phenomena Mercado describes in her book. Hypnagogia was, at the time she moved into the house, a thesis being explored by Dr. Andreas Mavromatis. While it could certainly account for the “suffocating dreams,” it’s a concept that had not yet entered the scientific community at large, so I suppose I can’t fault her for attributing them to paranormal activity. I experience hypnagogic sounds very frequently–“exploding head syndrome,” not nearly as unpleasant as it sounds–in which I hear voices, buzzing, crashes and booms, and on occasion I even experience the hypnagogic hallucination of being touched. It’s truly frightening if you don’t understand what is happening. Mercado also reported the sensation of being watched. I think we have all had this feeling at one time or another. Hallucinations and paranoia often attend high electromagnetic fields, which is why I believe I feel this in my kitchen–lots of large electrical appliances in there–and no where else in my home, but I have also experienced it in a farmhouse with no electricity at all and a reputation for being haunted. So I don’t doubt her insistence that she frequently felt this sensation in her house, though believing there might be ghosts can create a sort of feedback loop that leads one to think one is being watched, whether real activity exists or not.  

I do believe that Elaine believes her house was haunted. She seems like a kind and sincere woman, with no real incentive (other than an emotional one) to make up a ghost story. I’ll even go so far as to say that I believe there was something going on in the house. But I think the true source of the “haunting” was Elaine herself. Being hysterical in front of her children, and constantly prodding them to tell her if they had felt or seen anything, created a case of emotional contagion and folie a deux if there ever was one; she admits that Christine never experienced phenomena while alone in the house. This is a woman with very low self-esteem who craves validation, and she will get it anywhere she can–through her children, through a parapsychology class, through writing a book. She surrounds herself with people who will validate her as well, like her brother and his “psychic” girlfriend; her own boyfriend with his lifelong interest in spirits; and Hans Holzer, that fraudulent “Ph.D”. Even her nursing supervisor, who conveniently happens to be sensitive to psychic phenomena (and tells Mercado about the ghosts on Halloween, no less!).

Rather than a factual account of a haunting, Grave’s End was much like reading a novel with an unreliable narrator. We are viewing Mercado’s experiences in the house through the distorted lens of her faith, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The extremely negative portrayal of her husband, the frequent infantilization of her children and her obsessive relationship with them, the ghostly phenomena themselves…these are reflections of how she perceives her world, but perception does not equal truth. Thus the events themselves are called into question, since we have only Elaine’s word (and Hans Holzer’s, though he lied about his own education, Amityville, and who knows what else. But he’s dead, so I’ll cut him some slack) that they happened.

That’s about as suspended as my disbelief can get in this case. Elaine Mercado, without a doubt, believes her house was haunted. I believe she is sincere in that belief, but it simply wasn’t possible for me to deny my own experiences and knowledge in order to accept her story as truth. I’ll try harder next time.