Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers

Every House is Haunted collects stories from the first six years of Ian Rogers's foray into the publishing industry. Twenty-Two stories are collected within as well as a wonderful introduction by author Paul Tremblay.

Ian Rogers pens fun weird fiction, with a nice, clean prose. Although horror is present, you can tell that Rogers is having fun with his stories. Some of the stories seem interconnected, especially the stories that deal with a mysterious "group" that investigates and deals with paranormal situations, especially haunted houses. Stories like this all seem like small parts in an even bigger setting that I would like to see even more of.

Some favorite stories:

Aces, the opening story, features a narrator who is forced to take care of his strange sisters after his parents disappear. The strange things that happen around his sister continue to grow even stranger, and oftentimes sinister.

Cabin D, which I can't help but feel is directly connected to The House on Ashley Avenue, and possibly even The Nanny and Aces, is a story about a diner waitress serving a dying man an abundance of meals throughout the day. The man works for a mysterious group, and plans to approach a haunted Cabin for a standoff after his "last meal".

Winter Hammock takes the form of a diary, an often used medium in weird fiction that can be quite effective. In this case, I loved the story. A Radioshack employee narrates his experiences during the world's end, as he tries to make due and find comforts in his warehouse stronghold.

In The Nanny, a woman is summoned to a haunted house to attempt to assist the ghostly children in moving on.

The Dark and The Young features a linguist expert who is hired by a shady research group with help deciphering a mysterious, ancient text. She discovers the purpose of the book, and the experiments take a dark turn.

In Leaves Brown an old man decides to have a man-to-man talk with his grandson about their inherent psychic abilities. The old man has his fears and weaknesses, but is determined that he talk to his grandson about how to handle the abilities.

The House on Ashley Avenue brings back the paranormal group. A man and a psychic woman travel to a special haunted house the group is responsible for, in order to close it down again. The house has much in common with the Cabin in Cabin D, being a hungry, malevolent entity as opposed to a simple house full of ghosts. This story also has a rather funny moment featuring a "psychic medium".

Scientific explorers explore death in The Rifts Between Us, a dark science fiction story. By riding the neural transmissions of dying men and women, the exploration teams can enter a rift into a weird, twilight no man's land. One of my favorites, the twilit No Man's Land with it's strange rules made for a nice, eerie, sci-fi setting.

Deleted Scenes is a surreal, bizarre take on underground Hollywood. I loved the sheer weirdness of this story, which is a creepy take on an absurdly funny concept.

The Tattletail is about a young boy attending a sort of paranormal/magic academy, who decides he wants a pet demon for a talent show. It's a fun story, and Rogers's humor is very much on display.

Charlotte's Frequency starts off with a suburban husband getting a new, widescreen TV delivered. What follows is one of the more unique stories about spiders I have had the pleasure of reading. Definitely a favorite.

A private eye is the main character in the noirish Relaxed Best. Working on his latest case brings him into a jazz club that seems to defy reality. The surreal club with it's sinister clientele, is my favorite setting in the collection.

Hunger is two and a half pages of the observations from Patient Zero in some sort of apocalyptic, horrific outbreak. This short story definitely packs a punch due to the coldness of the narrator.

Inheritor is another favorite. An insomniac inherits the old family home from his estranged father, and goes back at his father's last wish. The story has a nice buildup, and a disturbing climax.

The Candle is subtle horror at it's finest. The dread is built up perfectly in a normal domestic situation.

Altogether, Every House is Haunted is a fun collection of stories. There are moments where the horror becomes quite frightening, although Rogers balances the horror with humor and wit. Definitely an author to keep an eye on, Ian Rogers has a second collection of stories, SuperNOIRtural Tales, that highlight the adventures of paranormal investigator Felix Renn. This collection showcases the skills with which Ian Rogers can handle stories about paranormal investigation, so I can not wait to dig into the Felix Renn stories.

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