RESTLESS SPIRITS

GHOST STORIES BY AMERICAN WOMEN, 1872-1926

A generous collection of 22 ghostly tales, some by well-known writers, most by long (and sometimes unjustly) forgotten authors. The volume is prefaced by editor Lundie's long and informative Introduction, which divides the stories thematically into five major categories: marriage, motherhood, sexual rivalry, madness, and widowhood or separation. What keeps this from being a really superior anthology of its kind is the overfamiliarity of some of its contents (Edith Wharton's ``The Lady's Maid's Bell,'' Ellen Glasgow's ``The Past,'' Helen R. Hull's ``Clay-Shuttered Doors,'' Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's ``Luella Miller,'' for example—superior stories, one and all—have been anthologized, as it were, to death), and the indifferent quality of several pieces (including, most egregiously, Cornelia A.P. Comer's ``The Little Gray Ghost'' and Josephine Daskam Bacon's ``The Gospel''). Lundie makes insupportable claims for such work as Mary Heaton Vorse's overheated tale about a young woman possessed by the very contrary spirit of her predecessor (``The Second Wife'') and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's ``The Giant Wistaria,'' a shrill and obviously deeply personal fictional defense of an unhappy woman's suicide (Gilman would later take her own life). Much better are Zora Neale Hurston's colorful, folkloric ``Spunk''; Hildegarde Hawthorne's compact and beautifully written tale of a wronged woman who ensures that she and her straying lover will remain united forever (``A Legend of Sonora''); (the ever underrated) Harriet Prescott Spofford's intricate ``Her Story,'' a subtle, boldly drawn portrayal of a woman who is declared mad and institutionalized by her unloving husband—and who may in fact be a victim of demonic possession; and M.E.M. Davis's clever, atmospheric story, set on a vividly evoked Louisiana plantation, about a young woman's fiancÇ seduced by the determined ghost of her passionate mother—capped by a very satisfying surprise ending. To be skimmed, then, rather than read straight through, but nevertheless a collection that fills long-standing gaps in the fields of both supernatural fiction and women's studies.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55849-055-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1996

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

THE SHAPE OF NIGHT

Running away from the memory of a New Year’s Eve party gone terribly wrong, food writer Ava Collette escapes Boston for a remote Maine village only to face a haunted house and a murder investigation.

Bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series, Gerritsen (I Know a Secret, 2017, etc.) returns with a spellbinding thriller. The focus stays tightly on the experience of the potential victim, Ava, which enables Gerritsen to spin a tight web. Entangled in her own guilt, Ava isolates herself further and further, avoiding calls from her sister and living alone in the ominous Brodie’s Watch mansion, named for its builder, a shipping master lost to sea more than a hundred years ago. Although Brodie’s Watch initially frightens Ava, the moment she steps over the threshold, she feels inexplicably welcomed. Indeed, she is most welcome, as the shadows in her bedroom coalesce into the shape of a man, a man who may well be the ghost of Capt. Brodie. He stalks the house most nights, seducing Ava into not only the passions of love, but also atonement through punishment meted out for her sins. And so Gerritsen shifts a murder mystery into a Gothic thriller, replete with an unsteady widow’s walk, secret alcove, strange smells, ominous sensations, and the ghost. Even the prologue echoes the dream of Manderley from Du Maurier’s Rebecca. But then a dead body washes ashore, and the police investigation suggests the dead woman was killed before she hit the water. Fearful that her spectral lover may be a real-life murderer, Ava inquires about Charlotte Nielson, the young woman who rented Brodie’s Watch before her and left in an inexplicable hurry. But Ava’s investigation uncovers a disturbing list of dead women, which the townspeople seem to have spackled over. Who are they protecting?

This riveting Gothic thriller explores the limits of love, guilt, and punishment.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2095-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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