Book Review – Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

Summary

“What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness, persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my laptop?” In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and history soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die.

Spook

Along with my love for horror I’ve always had a (sometimes terrified) fascination with the paranormal. This has felt somewhat contradictory to my secular upbringing, but it’s something that I simply haven’t been able to help. I can’t help but find videos or written accounts of the strange, otherworldly, or unknown alluring. But lately I’ve taken a greater interest in considering accounts of the paranormal more closely. It’s easy enough to be broadly skeptical and give the subject no time of day, but when I hear stories of ectoplasm spilling from a medium’s mouth, communicating with the other side, or children remembering past lives I want a more thorough examination of these incidents that lays all details bare. This is where Spook by Mary Roach comes in, a book that works to scientifically consider various studies of the afterlife to see what, if any, proof has ever truly been found.Read More »

Book Review – Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

Summary

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

GwendysButtonBoxCover

Gwendy’s Button Box, a novella written by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, is a twist on a familiar story/social experiment. I was immediately reminded of the 2009 film The Box, based on the Richard Matheson short story “Button, Button” and previously adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone by the same name. The story more or less always goes that an enigmatic man gives someone a box with a button on it. If they push the button two things will happen: they will receive a sum of money, and someone will die. What follows is the expected moral dilemma. While I’m certain this book is meant to recall these tales, the situation here is actually a lot more complex.Read More »

Which is Scarier?

While there are numerous ways to present the horror genre, I’ve found myself considering two distinct types of horror stories: those where the threat is paranormal, and those where the threat is mundane. When I say mundane, I mean something that we all acknowledge is within the realm of possibility. Stories that tell of gruesome killers and levels of cruelty only a twisted human imagination could conjure up and for all intents and purposes could actually happen.Read More »