Reading Sanctum: Potpourri #4

Reading Sanctum: Potpourri is one of our continuing features of quick cut book reviews to help you find some otherwise innocuous books that might have escaped your attention. As a huge library/book reader geek, I love sharing stories about the books I am reading. So if you love books like I love books, then you just might love this feature, too.

In Three Stories by Raymond Finkle, he collects three scary short stories for the Halloween season. The 50-page booklet was released in October of this year, 2020. I received it free on Amazon in exchange for a fair review.

The first story is written in the form of ‘A letter to the editor discovered in a dusty lockbox in the cellar’. It is about a sheriff in the 1920s investigating a wealthy woman’s death that looks like it could be murder. The second story is about a group of young people hiking through the mountains, when an apocalyptic event occurs. ‘We’re the Aliens’ is a cool short story, the best of the bunch IMHO. The last story is ‘Evening Paddle,’ an introspective little tale of a man in a canoe that I think is the weakest in the bunch.

The booklet is 50 pages. The stories are short, not a big investment in either money (.99 cents on Amazon Kindle) or time. The stories are geared to the little jolt of surprise in the end, but the first and last stories are more creepy than scary. This is a little more than a middle of the rode read and if you keep track of your books on Goodreads, this one is something you can read in an hour and a half to meet your end of year goals.

I have to apologize for not having talked about Amy Cross before. Amy Cross was first published in 2011. In the interim, this amazing horror writer writes about a book a month. (Her current list is over 100 books. She is incredibly prolific.) I call her a horror writer although she writes other things like supernatural love stories that have a certain bent. She’s a woman after my own heart.

If you go to her Facebook page, and like it, you will see that every month, for a few days, she offers one of her books for free. Most of her books run about 150 pages more or less, so they are short books, but you are sure to experience some scares, some chills, and occasionally some outright horror.

There are some longer works like The House of Jack the Ripper (900 pages), Asylum: the Trilogy Collection (1000 pages), The Ward Z books (3 books), and several continuing series. Most of her books are 99 cents, but like I said, every month she offers something for free. Best of all most of her books are offered on Kindle Unlimited. Not all of her books are winners, but I’ve enjoyed my fair share. Not even Stephen King hits homeruns every time.

So let’s talk about The Ghost of Old Coal House. The Ghost of Old Coal House is a Gothic Victorian tale told in first person narrative-form. Arthur Foreman works for a publishing house. He is going to visit his sister and her nuclear family for Christmas in a town where the mysteriously reclusive Walter Ward also lives.

Ward is an unpublished author that sends a supernatural horror story to the publishing house every year. Because Ward seems like such an oddity, Arthur’s superiors send him to meet with Ward. They want to know what drives this man to write a thematically similar story every year. When Arthur arrives at his sister’s home, he detects something wrong with her, and when she uncharacteristically throws a fit, she throws him out of the house.

He must spend the night at the Old Coal House. Ward invites him to stay, but he warns Arthur of the ghost that haunts his nights. By the end of the tale, not only has Arthur discovered the secret to Old Coal House’s haunting, but he also discovers the cause of his sister’s anger might be tied to the sibling they lost when they were all children.

This fascinating tale is told in a genteel, yet sophisticated manner, as one would expect from an editor at a publishing house. There is serious creep in this novel. I don’t really enjoy supernatural stories, but this one is pretty good. I may have to re-think my stance on supernatural. Whatever the case, I strongly suggest you add Amy Cross to your must-read authors. I have read some of her other work and been impressed, but this one puts her over the top in my view.

I always promise to keep the Reading Sanctum: Potpourri short. I may have extended myself today, but I really wanted to share Amy Cross with you horror geeks. I think she is special in a way that Stephen King is not. He is prolific, but not in the way of Amy Cross. The horror ideas practically fly out of her mind.

All right, reading freaks, and geeks, I always appreciate you reading my stuff. The Beard always reminds you to wear a mask, like superheroes. I want to remind you all that I love you, and would love for all of us to be able to see all of you one day in a “The Mustache and the Beard Get-together” some day. Please take care of yourselves and the ones you love. We still have a few months of this thing left to go.

Thanks for reading! See you later! Take it easy! Peace!

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