________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006


Haunting Fireside Stories: Ghostly Tales of the Paranormal.

A.S. Mott.
Edmonton, AB: Ghost House Books, 2005. 200 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 1-894877-55-1.

Subject Headings:

Grades 9-11 / Ages 14-16.

Review by Karen Rankin.

* /4


Cal had so far failed to rein Angelina into a calm and rational discussion of the events. Instead he just stood and waited with his arms crossed as his wife demolished everything in the house that was the slightest bit demolishable [sic]. At first he had been stunned to see her in the kitchen, hurling plates and causing Cheryl and the mold [removal] guy to run for their lives. The last time he saw them they were attempting – to no avail – to throw a chair through the front window. The window was still there, so he assumed that they were either hiding or had found another way to escape from the house. Since then he had gone from amazement to confusion and was on his way to annoyance.

“Angelina!” he shouted impatiently as she started making blood drip down from the house's walls. “Enough is enough! Stop being so damn dramatic.” (From “Happily Ever After.”)


A.S. Mott has written five, contemporary, somewhat “haunting,” sometimes humorous stories. All five have good, surprising plot twists. However, that is their only consistent strength. Most of the stories have little or no character development. There is some character growth in “Samantha's Diary,” the story of a teenaged girl/ghost who has died as a result of the alcoholic anesthetist assisting on her ‘nose job.' Ostensibly this is Samantha's story; however, it is mainly her parents whose characters develop. There is also a little character development in “The Hunt.”

     Shortly after the protagonist of this story finds out that his boss and his beloved – the boss's daughter – are werewolves, he is turned into one, too. In “Reality Television,” there is almost no difference between any of the (all adult) characters' voices. In this fairly gory horror, there are two sets of characters: a TV show's contestants and its producers. Amongst these two groups, readers would not have a clue who is speaking without the author telling them.

     Three out of the five stories in this book are about ghosts. In the first two, Mott sets up some “rules” about what happens when you die. For example, the newly dead are greeted by a man in a white suit who tells them their choices in the afterlife. In “Samantha's Diary,” the third ghost story, Mott breaks these “rules.” For instance, one can't help wondering why Samantha hasn't met the man in white, why she can choose when to leave Earth, and how she is able to write a diary when she can't hold onto anything unless she's extremely upset. These unanswered questions lessen the story's credibility. In each story except “The Hunt,” one begins to wonder, whose story is it? For instance, “Samantha's Diary” starts out about Samantha but ends up being more about her parents. In “Reality Television,” an omniscient narrator leaves the reader feeling disconnected from everyone. Similarly, in “Happily Ever After” and “Living Dead,” two ghost stories with adult casts and omniscient narrators, there are a number of point of view problems.

     Ultimately, these issues distance the reader.


Not recommended.

Karen Rankin is a Toronto writer and editor of children's stories.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.