Book Review: Building 51 – Jennifer L. Place

Preamble

Jennifer L. Place is a native of the Hudson Valley in New York. Her most recent book ‘Building 51‘, is based on a real abandoned asylum, in which the titled ‘Building 51″ is part of.

Building 51 - Jennifer L. Place
Building 51 – Jennifer L. Place

Having grown up in an area with this forgotten hospital Jennifer confesses she’s had an interest in it since childhood. It loomed in the background, and although she’d written 3 other successful books, the time came to invest in her curiosity.

She organised a tour of the sprawling campus and this shows throughout the book. Her knowledge of the grounds enhances the atmosphere of the novel. This is further boosted by accurate historical information displayed throughout. Evidence from the hospitals 140 years of life and beyond provides us with the chilling truth. Nothing that despicable ever dies.

Building 51 - Jennifer Place
Building 51 – Jennifer L. Place

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about the author herself, please feel free to head over to her website which can be found here.

 

 

 

 

The Review

As a lover of the horror genre, my initial approach to any novel within its scope is tentative. Unlike softer genres such as comedy or romance, when horror is bad, it’s awful. Therefore I was delighted to find that this story, while formulated in a classic Building 51 - Jennifer L. Placetrope, has new ideas and scares to offer. The opening shot sets group dynamics of 7 friends. They’re young, carefree, and mischievous, perfectly positioned for pain. Place jumps right into the guts of the matter as they plan to explore the abandoned hospital.

While you may make some predictions, you will not fully guess the ending. We are treated to complex character arcs, without an over indulgencing in flashbacks.  You can tell the author’s imagination is well-developed and her days pondering over the dilapidated hospital is apparent.

*Ahead there be spoilers!!!*

The ‘love’ triangle’ which plagues 3 of the characters adds to the story agreeably. I have often found this tool to be cumbersome, however, without it, the characters may have behaved differently. Place directs her characters and ultimately people break off into groups. Which you should never do in a horror story, don’t they know they’re in a book?! Although Place dips into classic horror analogies there are times the characters poke fun at this and do not make the decisions we would expect them to make.

Another theme I really loved was the classic blood ‘wakes’ the beast. It shows Place really thought about ‘the why’ when she wrote this book. The 7(also a classic horror number) friends are not just attacked because they dare to wander the grounds of the hospital. It’s is an incident where blood is spilled which causes the hospital to rouse from its slumber, and welcome its new guests.

The grandmother’s introduction was seamless and the throwback to her at the end was inspired. I think this is a sensational read and you won’t want to put the book down. So make sure you’re sitting comfortably with your beverage of choice before you embark.

Anything Else?

Yes, you can find Jennifer L. Place on all the usual platforms, and I’ve linked much of her media below. She has other books if horror is not your fancy, as you can see, so go buy one of those. You won’t be disappointed, and once again, thanks for reading Moonlings!

Building 51 - Jennifer Place
Building 51 – Jennifer Place

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

 

Granny Phillis

The fire, a welcome contrast to the descending mist outside, was soon obscured by all seven grandkids. As they fought over who would be directly in front, the youngest Seán, decided that he would sit with his beloved great granny Phillis. “Hello granny! Happy Halloween. Would you like a sweet?” Her marble eyes found him, and she squinted. “Is that you Georgie?”

Seán smiled, unoffended. “No, it’s me Granny. It’s Seán. I’m Georgie’s son!” Her solum face lit up. “Ah it’s me little pet Seán, how are you love?”

“I’m grand granny I got loads of sweets would you like one? I have the sucky sweets you like!” As she reached out Seán was already obliging with an orange flavored glazier. “Thanks pet, and by the way, we don’t say happy Halloween.”

Seán, a wise nine-year-old, knew not to question his great granny. His sister Susan however, was a boisterous twelve. “My teacher taught me it’s polite to say happy Halloween to your friends and family.” Granny Phillis sat up straighter in her armchair. Seán often wondered if granny was born in that chair because he rarely saw her out of it. Although in fairness, she had been 85 when he was born.

“Susan, don’t talk to your granny that way!” Her mortified Mother squeaked. Susan gave a familiar look. One that normally resulted in an argument. Tonight, however, Susan had a big bag of sweets and wasn’t about to relinquish them. “Sorry, granny Phillis.” She muttered.

Seán cast his eyes over to granny’s face. Although not as indignant as it had been, she still looked annoyed. “Why shouldn’t we say happy Halloween granny?” He asked gently. Phillis glanced at her great-grandson smiling. His resemblance to her husband in both manner and looks had always given her pause.

“Well, young man I’ll tell you why once your father gets me my Halloween treat.” His father Georgie promptly lept up from his seat and went to the kitchen to get her a double whiskey. Seán offered her another sweet and when Georgie returned with her whiskey she took a good swig.

“Now, Seán. Do you know what Halloween is?” Seán tilted his head. This seemed like a trick question. “Oh, I know this!” Susan shrieked. “It’s a festival to celebrate the harvest.” Waiting for her obligatory pat on the back for the correct answer. Her shocked face, when it didn’t come, was glorious to Seán.

“Listen to me. Halloween is a very dangerous night of the year. Why do you think our ancestors had the bonfires? As a way to be grateful for the harvest? Nonsense. They were trying to keep the light going until midnight when it was safe again.” At that Seán’s mother jumped in. “Now Phillis no need to scare the children, come on everyone I think your Granny Tricia has the tea ready, quickly now, into the kitchen.”

The rest of children, grateful to be finally allowed leave their eccentric great granny Phillis alone, milled out of the room. Seán remained, as unlike the rest, had a soft spot in his heart for the elderly. Phillis knew this, and her heart swelled. “Who were they afraid of Granny?”

Phillis shuffled in her chair so she was facing Seán. Her glassy eyes shone in the firelight. “You see Seán, there are many things out there, especially in Ireland. We have the likes of the banshee, the faeries, and the tricksters. Now most of them, are not much trouble. They live alongside us, as hidden as they may. Now you don’t have to worry about them. The banshee weeps at the dead, the faeries love treasures, and the tricksters are feckin’ annoying.”

Seán’s eyes widened. “Faeries are real!?!” Granny held up her hand. “Don’t interrupt me Ghassan. Now those entities have been around longer than us and will be long after we’re gone. They’re in our world but they’re not, and most of them are happy with that. It’s the dark ones that you need to worry about.”

Granny’s eyes deepened, and she sipped at her neat whiskey. Moments went by and Seán had to nudge her. “Sorry pet, I was just thinking back to when I was your age, now that wasn’t yesterday or the day before.” She glanced down at her hands. “85 years or so now.” Seán’s head comically shook in disbelief. Although he knew her age, he never thought about it like that. He had certainly never thought of her as a child before.

“So when I was your age, Halloween was no laughing matter. We didn’t go around begging for sweets from our neighbours. We battened down the hatches as if there was a storm coming…” Sip. “Yes in those days we feared the dark on Samhain, it’s not like it is now. There is always light available when you go outside these days, but when I was a young wan. Well…”

“Must have been Halloween 1932. No no, it was 1933 I think. Whatever year it was, I was a young girleen, about your age Seán. I was sent to me granny’s to check on her, It was early enough in the afternoon around three or so. I was to be back by five. She only lived down the road sure.”

Seán shifted uneasily in his seat, chewing slowing. Granny Phillis loved to tell him tales of her childhood. This time, however, his arms were trembling. “Getting to my granny Síle’s house was one thing. It was another one entirely getting home. You see, the mad McDonagh woman caught me, unawares. She stopped me and started babbling about things I weren’t in the habit of thinking about.”

Phillis shook her head. “In those days regardless of how mad they were, you respected your elders. She was babbling about the demons, and how on Halloween a young girl like myself shouldn’t be out alone. When she was a girl she would be burning a fire with her family, like it was proper, to ward off the bad spirits.”

“Eventually I had to tell her my Mammy was expecting me, and oh God!” Granny Phillis laughed. “She actually gave me a wallop and said, ‘then what are you doing standing around here for, have you no respect for your mother, get home now you brazen brat!’ Well, I hopped off as quick as I could with my arse stinging from the slap.”

She looked up at the door as if to make sure no one was going to correct her swearing in front of the children. “It was already getting dark then, and although normally I felt safe walking the 20 minutes from me granny’s house to me own, I felt frightened that night.” She sipped on her whiskey, and then looked at Seán directly. “I’m not scaring you lad, now am I?”

Seán held his breath for a moment and shook his head. Although this was a lie, he wanted to hear the story. He wanted to hear what happened to granny all those years ago. She nodded and patted his hand. “You’re a good boy Seán, you remind me of my husband Jack God rest his soul.” She tipped her glass to the sky at this declaration and Seán felt the need to tip the bar of chocolate he was holding. Phillis cackled and she took another sip of her whiskey.

“Ah God, back in those days I was so innocent Seán. I thought nothing could hurt me, because they all told me the monsters in the woods weren’t real.” She looked at him directly now, her vitreous eyes filling up. “I’m saying this because you might get a bit scared pet, but you need to know the truth. There are things we know nothing of only legends and hearsay, and most of it is crap. But some of it, well some of it is real, and it came after me that night while I was walking home alone in the dark.”

Seán shuddered, realising he was still wearing his jacket, but the fire gave him no warmth. A charge spiked down his back, and he seen Phillis looking worried too. “Granny are you ok?” She nodded as firmly as her old neck would allow. “Oh don’t worry pet I’m fine, it still just gives me the chills to this day.”

“Well I was walking down the road just before I turn down the lane to my family’s old farmhouse. That house is long gone now. When from the thickets, I heard someone calling my name. Except they weren’t calling me Phillis like most would. They were calling me Philomena.”

Seán’s brow furrowed. “Philomena?” Phillis nodded furiously. “Sure that’s me full name pet. Bet you didn’t know that. The only people who ever called me Philomena was the local priest Father Martin, and me granny Síle. So naturally, I thought she’d walked behind me and got stuck in the hedges or something beside the road.”

“I stopped walking. It was dead quiet at this stage. I heard the voice again. ‘Philomena?’” Granny stopped and finished her whiskey off. She placed the glass on the table beside her. “The voice almost sounded like me granny Síle, except, there was something not right about it.”

Seán couldn’t move. He had lost all interest in his sweets, his eyes transfixed on his great granny Phillis. “I looked around. It was dark now, the moon wasn’t quite out yet. It was that great half dark.”

“My eyes were adjusting to the dark, so I looked into where the voice was coming from.” She paused. “When I tell you I can’t truly describe the horror of what I seen. I’m doing it justice Seán. It was a thin white creature, mostly hidden by the hedges, but what I could see was spindly and sharp.”

“Its eyes were the worst though. They were sunken dark holes. No matter how many times I call up this memory, my brain tells me that the creature, whatever it was, was evil. Evil like the demons of hell that Father Martin used to talk about. And it was calling to me.”

“Well Seán I hightailed it out of there. I was sure it was chasing me the whole way back to the house. Even though I stared out my bedroom window all evening I didn’t catch a glimpse it again. A week or so later I finally plucked up the courage to ask my Granny Síle about it. We were very close. I needed an adult to tell me that it was my imagination, and I was safe.” She glanced at her whiskey glass, willing it to be full again.

“She did to some part. She told me I was safe because it wasn’t Halloween anymore. The things in the dark couldn’t get at me any other night of the year. On Halloween though, the walls are soft…”

“They can creep through, and they want a warm body to possess, and sometimes they succeed. That’s why there’s true evil in the world Seán, because that one night a year, God can’t see what they are doing.”

Silence fell on the room. Seán’s imagination ran wild, scaring himself to almost epic proportions. “How do I protect myself granny I’m scared!?” Granny Phillis turned to him with her shining eyes and grabbed his arm. “My dear boy we are doing it now. The fire, the whiskey, the company of another. They cannot reach where light and love is. I just want you to know that there are risks, but you are more than safe here with me.”

Seán’s fear melted away. He was just about to ask Granny Phillis another question when Susan burst into the room. “We’re leaving now Seán say goodbye to great granny Phillis.” Susan came over and made a show of hugging her great granny, Showering her with kisses. “Love you granny Phillis bye now, you mind yourself.” Her flattery didn’t go unrewarded and she left with a five euro note in her hand. “Thank you so much granny!” She curtseyed and left the room.

Phillis turned to Seán. “My young boy, I love all my grandchildren equally. Do you understand that?!” Seán nodded kindly and hugged his grandmother tight. He was rewarded with a twenty euro note, and a small photograph of his great-grandfather Jack. She put her finger to her lips, and Seán nodded gratefully. As he was walking out the door, Phillis spoke once more. “Remember Ghassan. Let the light burn, even if it is within you.” Seán nodded as if he understood, storing these words in his brain forever. He left his almost blind great-grandmother staring into the fire.

 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Want to stay safe? Read this poem.

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/30/consecrate-fire

Consecrate Fire

Bronze dead chattels,

Fading to grey, in the mist. The veil ascends.

Catch it before it clutches you.

 

They are waiting, patiently eager,

Vibrating into view, atrophied senses, madness-inducing.

Dimensional shrouds have their limits.

 

The whiskey slowly warms,

Burn the fire, oxygen combusts, creating florescent beings.

Gatherings create havens for the living.

 

The dead are beyond.

Do not let the Mephistopheles trick you of your elemental form.

Dybbuk will cede your soul.

 

Let the light burn, even if it is within you.

 

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Previous poems and stories!

https://thinkingmoon.com/category/stories/

 

Top 5 H.P Lovecraft Short Stories

As you may have gathered I am a huge fan of the macabre. The horror genre is my utmost favourite in all mediums. While I can, and have been known to write fiction which is uplifting, action-packed, or romantic, horror is where I feel most at home.

Of course, you must be a reader to be a writer[i] and I am an avid reader of the horror genre. I love the supernatural, the paranormal, unsolved mysteries, unnatural laws, and the foibles of humankind. In this sense, I feel there is only one author who stands up to meet all these criteria and that is H.P Lovecraft.

His is the story of a genius who remained unrecognised in his time. While he did manage to sell and publish stories during his lifetime, it wasn’t enough to keep him afloat. He relied on his inheritance, which upon his death at the age of 46, had been slowly ground to nothing.

His stories are now in the public domain and have influenced writers such as Stephen King to J.C Lynch. (Self-shout out and no I’m not sorry!)

The criteria for this list is as follows: It must be a short story. It must be written solely by Lovecraft. It must be published before his death.

I digress, so without further ado I present to you my top 5 favourite HP Lovecraft short stories.

  1. “The Colour Out Of Space.” Written 1927, Published 1927.

This fantastic horror story documents the experience of a family, living in the hills outside of Arkham after their farm is polluted by a meteorite from space. Futile attempts to study the meteorite by local scientists results in the matter sinking into obscurity. Years later a surveyor is unnerved by the land, prompting a local to tell him the tragic story of the Gardner family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyda5iiGEo

  1. “The Cats Of Ultar.” Written 1920, Published 1920.

Set in Lovecraft’s dreamworld, this simple story tells the tale of a caravan passing through Ultar. A young boy’s kitten is killed by a local couple who are known to despise cats. The young boy, distraught at this discovery, casts his eyes to the heavens and mutters a curse upon the couple. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but in Ultar to this day, all cats are revered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSnhKfV17X0

  1. Pickman’s Model.” Written 1926, Published 1927.

The narrator’s eccentric artist friend Pickman, known for painting harrowing scenes, invites him over to see the works rejected by the gallerys. The daunting scenes of creatures unknown to man causes disquiet in the narrator, however, he takes solace in knowing the beasts portrayed, are nothing more than fiction from the mind of his friend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KT10mIOm3M

  1. The Outsider.” Written 1921, Published 1926.

Set in a decrepit castle, deep in the woods, our narrator does not identify themselves in anyway. They lived in this castle all their lives, and as far back as they remember they’ve never seen the sky. One day,  frustration gets the best of them, and they make a perilous journey. Climbing to the top of the tallest tower they finally see the outside world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH2UefOMx18

  1. The Doom That Came To Sarnath.” Written 1919, Published 1920.

My favourite story of Lovecraft’s is once again set in his auspicious dreamworld. It documents the history of the great city of Sarnath, the shining jewel of civilisation. They become arrogant, conquering the neighbouring city of Ib, simply because they do not like the creatures which inhabit it. They take the city’s stone idol of ‘Bokrug The Water Lizard’, and reign on high for a 1000 years. However as the story goes, doom must play its part in the city of Sarnath.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RdHZSZogfo

Please go follow: ‘Books For Intellectual Exercise‘ on YouTube for more amazing H.P Lovecraft readings.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Rpcc3P0jGK7LTMC9dR1xg

If you like lists of things, check this out:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/09/11/instagram/

[i] King, Stephen. 2000. “On Writing: A Memoire of the Craft.” Scribner. New York City.

Missing

*warning this contains adult themes*

He didn’t just get lost. Charles ‘Charlie’ Buckton didn’t just lose his children. He also didn’t have favourites, and yet, Billy his youngest was such a sweet child. He loved his Daddy more than anything else and followed him everywhere. Maude hated when he brought the kids camping in the woods, yet so often relented for a quiet house from time to time.

Tramping through the woods, his muscles aching from weariness, Charlie ran the day over in his mind.  He and his five children had been camping in Itasca State Park. An activity they did several times a year. While out hiking, his eldest David, had stopped to help Billy tie his shoe. Charlie and the rest had moved on ahead. He could still hear David, “Alright Billy I’ll race you back to the others. First one to touch Dad is the winner.” The laughter from both boys, the stomping of running feet, then the slowed uncertainty. “Billy?”

Charlie shuddered, his skin crawling. David, while only 13 years old, had blamed himself. “Dad I could hear him behind me the whole time until suddenly I couldn’t, I should have paid better attention.” Maude had held David as he sobbed in their small farmhouse’s kitchen. “It wasn’t your fault David, someone took him. Someone in those woods I’m sure of it.” Maude had looked at him reproachfully, her eyes begging him to stop.

His arm snagged on a tree branch causing him to stumble. Hiking normally brought him peace. Yet today all he could focus on was the day, one month previous when Billy had gone missing. Most people had given up, especially after they found his shoes a week later, sitting on a log in the woods. “Most likely animal predation.” The State cops had declared. They expressed their sympathies and called off the search. They were little Billy’s shoes alright, but they weren’t bloody or torn. So Charlie wasn’t giving up. He trudged on down the same trail from that fateful day.

Ellie had begged him not to go, “Daddy please don’t go back, what if the thing that took Billy takes you?” He looked down at his baby girl, only 1 year older than 6-year-old Billy, and smiled. “Don’t worry Princess, Daddy is big and strong, and nothing can hurt him.” He proceeded to lift her up and give her a good squeeze. “I should come with you Dad.” David had protested. “No Davey, this is no job for a kid…”

“Dad I can help…” David began.

“No. David. I need you to stay here. You’re the man of the house until I get back. You have to mind your Mama, Peter, Mary, and Ellie. You understand?”

He had understood, and although he had wished he had the company of his eldest, he thought it best not to bring him. The things he’d read online since Billy’s disappearance had shocked him to his core. Unexplained mysteries in National Parks all over the country? Not on his watch. Not with his kid.

Charlie felt his breathing grow laboured and worried that at the tender age of 35, he was having a heart attack. He then assessed his surroundings and realised he was back at the spot Billy had disappeared. The air was thick, still, and eerily silent. No wildlife rustling through the grass. No wind whistling through the trees. Sweat poured down Charlie’s back, soaking through his shirt. His eyes darted around the forest.

“Back for your child yes? People are so curious.”

He spun to meet the utterer of this sentence and felt faint. A tall, thin creature, shaped like a man, but was everything but. Its white skin was taut over its bones, it’s eyes sunken and fingernails like claws. “We take you to him, come.” Charlie frowned, patting the front breast of his coat. “Your human weapons won’t work here. We’ve shifted you to our plane now, come.” The creature turned and Charlie had no choice but to follow. Under his trouser leg on the right was his hunting knife. He’d be damned if that didn’t work here, where ever ‘here’ was.

The creature led Charlie to a camp. Surrounding a fire were more creatures. Not many, but enough to make his hand twitch towards the gun again. His eyes assessed the area realising the greyness of everything. It was the same forest he’d entered, but more barren. The trees seemed to droop. The sky though cloudless was grey, and the fire, provided no warmth. “Come, we show you.” It beckoned him to a stone altar where to his horror he was met with the bloodied corpse of his son. “Billy,” he bellowed. “No, my poor boy. My sweet boy. What have they done to you.” Billy’s lifeless eyes stared at the grey sky as Charlie wept over him.

When he finally looked up the creature’s face was covered in a grin. “We need blood. Young blood for the Gods you see, to please them, the dark ones. There is so little blood here on our plane, but so much on yours. You need to share.” Its grin stirred the reptile in Charlie’s brain and he lunged at it. They wrestled on the ground, it’s sharp teeth inches away from Charlie’s neck. He kicked it off him, pulled out his gun and pulled the trigger. Just as the creature had warned him it made but a soft popping noise, like a party item, and then no more. He threw it at the creature as he made for his hunting knife.

The rest of the group had descended on him now. As he brandished the knife, he reasoned. “Let me go, with my boy, and I won’t hurt any of you.” The grinning creature, now with a dark blood spot above its eyes simply shook its head. The others, in their hysteria, had grown all the more terrible. Their eyes darker, their manner more hunched, their claws glinting. “We can’t let you go. You will tell the others.” Charlie violently shook his head. “No, I won’t tell anyone, just please, let me and my boy go. My blood is no used to you, I’m not young.”

The grinning creature simply responded. “No, but your flesh is good to eat.” Charlie fought valiantly, killing one of the creatures in his struggle. He finally succumbed to death as the grinning creature tore at his neck with its teeth. His final thoughts were simply, “I’m coming for you Billy, my boy.”

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

*Inspired by David Paulides – The Missing 411.

Check out my previous scary story:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/09/obsolescence/

Obsolescence

*warning this contains adult themes*

Her skin was frigidly cold now, the pain in her leg was easing. Endorphins flittered down throughout her blood causing her to shiver. The wound still pulsed but the aching was retreating. Although she would have welcomed this relief not an hour ago, she understood what her body was doing. It was giving up.

She drew a blanket around her and limped to the window, the sun was rising in the desolate, ash-filled sky. It cast flickering rays through the clouds of debris. From the window, in the distance, she could see the Atlantic ocean, bobbing as it always had. It worried not about the dead and poisoned marine life. It cared not regarding the polluted rivers joining it at it the coast. It cared not for Lilith who sat on an uncomfortable chair by the window, gazing at it, taking her final few hundred breaths.

Lilith knew last night that death was upon her as the fever had reached maddening heights. Visions of a world free from nuclear winter had raged, her loved ones living, with plenty to eat and drink. Although now she knew that they had been delirium dreams, the pang that it caused her now tormented more than the wound ever had.

As the last of her water streamed down her face her mind grew bitter in the knowledge that she was dying at the tender age of twenty, not quite twenty-one. Twenty years of suffering, death, and violence, ending now in a flurry of anger. Why had they so royally fucked up the world? What did it accomplish? Where were they now? Dead most likely, nothing gained, and everything lost.

Lilith shifted her leg one last time, and the faint web of pain confirmed her suspicions. The sprinkling sun lit up her pale, undernourished face. Her brown eyes flashing in its splendor. She looked at it directly now, for the first time, and the last. Her tears ceased, and although she had determined to die with dignity, all that remained was fear. Fear that this was all there was and all there ever would be for her. She let out a miserable whimper, and was no more.

The sun continued to rise, the ocean continued to flow, and the Earth continued to turn as the last human being, died in the room she was born in, not twenty-one years ago.

Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved

Inspiration:

—T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925)

Genuinely tell me, how did this make you feel, on your inside space?

Or would you rather listen than read?

Also, check out additional spooky Tuesday blogs:

https://thinkingmoon.com/2018/10/02/wicca/

WordPress.com.

Up ↑