“The Witching House” by Brian Moreland, is a novella set in Texas which tells the story of the Blevin’s House. In 1972, twenty five people were brutally murdered in this house and the identity of the killer or killers has yet to be revealed 40 years later.
Enter Sarah Donovan, a young woman who has recently begun dating Dean Stratton. Where Dean is always looking for danger and adventure, Sarah is scared of just about everything. So, when Dean asks Sarah to join him and his friends Casey and Meg Ackerman on one of their Urban Explorer adventures, she’s hesitant but accepts in a an effort to appear as “the girl” for Dean.
Dean, Casey and Meg have a long history of friendship and many High Adventure stories under their belts. Their shared hobby consists of sneaking into rundown and abandoned buildings. Though urban exploring is illegal, the group claims that they simply explore for a few hours, take some pictures and go home;no harm, no foul.
Dean has recently met Ronnie, who happens to work at the pig farm owned by Otis: Otis is the only surviving member of the 1972 massacre and owner of the Blevin House. Ronnie tells Dean that he knows Otis’ schedule and can bring Dean and his Urban Explorer friends to the Blevin’s House when Otis is not there for a little exploring. Dean’s excitement over this adventure is palpable.
Despite Sarah’s extreme trepidation concerning this excursion, she, reluctantly, goes along with it in a misguided attempt to pacify Dean. Initially, Sarah is a bit of a disappointment as far as female characters go: she seems to lack self esteem and her greatest goal in life is to please Dean and convince him to settle down with her. Happily, as the story and the horror progresses, Sarah quickly transforms into the strong willed woman that you knew was lurking under that girlish persona.
The events that take place inside the Blevin’s House are wonderfully horrific. This house is pure evil and it will take down anyone who has the hubris to believe that they can enter it and leave alive. The imagery is wonderful:just the right amount of description to really illustrate all of the nastiness without being crass or gross simply for the sake of it. This is a great, fast paced horror novella. Moreland managed to make me feel uncomfortable quite a few times, without putting me off of the story. I found the characters to all be unique and easily relatable. The ending was satisfying and, for lack of a better word, lovely; I find this to rarely be the case with horror novels. Brian Moreland’s “The Witching House” is a perfect way to spend your Halloween evening. Give yourself a Halloween treat and go directly to Amazon and purchase this novella!