And so it begins…
John Milton, book reviewer for AndyErupts, has left a great review for The Bell Witch over at Amazon.UK. Since many of you aren’t cruising Amazon.UK regularly, at least I think, I’ve reproduced it below:
“Laying my cards out on the table, I’ve never been a big fan of ghost stories or tales of hauntings. To my mind, they’re all ultimately the same; this is especially true of movies which take spirits/ tortured souls as their focus and rely on cheap scares to hide low budgets and poor acting. However, when I was approached by John F.D. Taff, an author with more than 65 short stories and seven novels in print, to consider his latest work, The Bell Witch; I was intrigued.
For those of you not familiar with the story, Taff has taken as the foundation for his novel a legendary haunting from the early 19th century in Tennessee, where The Bell family were purportedly plagued by a poltergeist where members of the household were terrorised by scratching from behind walls, being assaulted by unseen forces, furniture being thrown across the room and all the activity centring on Betsy, the youngest of the Bell family. Given the various stories surrounding this legend, it certainly made for fertile ground for the author to have free reign to forge a unique tale all of his own.
Taff, although remaining faithful to what could be considered the “source material”, weaves in the various known aspects of the legend and still creates a tale that is, to my mind, unlike any other ghost story I have ever encountered. The titular witch does not thrive on cheap scares but is unwavering in its attempts to make the Bell family miserable, subjecting them to numerous ordeals as it moves towards its vengeful goal. The characters created by the author guide the plot and the inclusion of the paranormal aspect is itself, a manifestation of the woes of the Bell family. However, Taff does not simply create a malevolent force in this spirit but a being who is one of the central characters of the story itself. Although the very real problems of the Bells are at the heart of proceedings, this tale is clearly horror with some truly dark moments but is likely to leave those looking for something on the gory side unsatisfied.
On a critical note, I was struck by the interaction between the family and the spirit. This is perhaps due to being subjected to numerous generic ghost stories over the years since Taff’s narrative rationalises the behaviour of the main players, making such contact seem reasonable.
Ultimately, John F. D. Taff, the lauded author of Little Deaths, takes a 200-year-old tale from the American Deep South and creates a tale rich with history and lore that puts its contemporaries firmly in the shade. In The Bell Witch, he conjures up a malevolent spirit which is determined to make the prosperous Bell family suffer… one of whom will pay the price for their dark secret. Taff infuses the spirit of legend with motive for its vitriol, creating a compelling ghost story like no other, which will haunt you long after the last page.”
Thanks for the great review! And if this sounds interesting to you, pick up a copy of The Bell Witch today!