Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
This is such a fun little horror story! And what ups the ante a little bit is that it's supposedly true. We're a bit wusses when it comes to ghost stories. We turn into Sal Vulcano from Impractical Jokers when we read something particularly scary. The strange thing is that this book isn't really that scary, even with the consideration that this actually happened. It's actually kinda cheesy and even hilarious at times. We appreciate the author for this! We didn't want to be up all night or getting the heebie-jeebies while in the dark.
A lot of other reviewers made a big deal out of grammatical and spelling errors. Yes, we saw a few, but was it really that big of a deal? We don't think so. The intrigue and entertainment factors are still there. The story is actually kinda fascinating, although not unlike others we've read about or seen in movies. The Paranormal Activity movies certainly come to mind especially in scenes when the toy starts making noises on its own (without batteries). There are some scenes quite similar to The Exorcist as well. Objects move on their own or are found out of place like in almost every haunting horror story ever. But it's true this time, right?
Also like every haunting horror story ever, the lovely and unsuspecting little family (in this case Austin, his wife Jody, their daughter Charlie, and their new dog Brutus) are drawn to a fortuitously underpriced house. In this case, the fortuitous place is in Kentucky (home of the best fried chicken and the Kentucky Derby). Well, guess what? The reason why the house is priced at $43,000 is because no one wants to live there because—surprise—it's haunted as hell! Not only is it haunted as hell, but the ghost-demon thing(s) in the house apparently drive their owners so crazy that they consider taking their own lives or the lives of others all while experiencing some kind of psychotic/homicidal blackout.
That's some really dark stuff. But here's the catch: there are so many absurd, overly-specific moments in this story that it's sometimes really hard to take it seriously. Yes, maybe this haunting did happen in some, way, shape, or form, but the way it's described had us slapping our thighs, holding our stomachs, and rolling on the floor laughing. For example, when a candle falls over in the middle of the night and it's found in the morning, the two protagonists come to the asinine conclusion that it must've fallen over due to some plane flying over the house. What makes this moment even funnier is that the protagonist goes overboard and basically says he's going to make some calls to the FAA to mark their home as a no-fly zone. That's right, this one random guy in the middle of Kentucky is gonna take on the FAA because—with no evidence whatsoever—he blames them for his candle falling over.
Another thing that's hilarious is when they actually confront the demons and start prodding them with questions--actually a moment that is supposed to be taken dead seriously and should be frightening. It is downright hilarious! This moment isn't hilarious because the demons say demented-sounding things you might expect them to say (like “your mom puts pineapples on her pizza in hell”) but because the demons are are so over the top and full of crap that it's impossible to take what they're saying seriously. Let's start with the fact that one of them claims to be Diablo: Satan himself. Another claims to be Be'elzebub: Satan's lieutenant and prince. Why in the cold blue hell (pun intended) would the king and prince of all the demons be interested in SOME DUDE, a band of misfit ghost hunters, and a semi-retired exorcist in Kentucky, home of the best fried chicken?! Is this a real-life horror story or is this Scary Movie 2?
Can you imagine Satan being like, "Naw, man. Screw the Kremlin. Screw Washington DC. Screw the United Nations. This RANDOM HOUSE IN KENTUCKY is where the action's at."
Yet another funny thing is how oddly specific the author gets about the things that characters say and do in this supposedly-true story. Ok, maybe it is true, but once you start getting super specific about the things that people say, then you develop trust issues with the reader. It's like lying, once you get overly detailed, people start seeing more and more red flags. You really ruin the immersion. See, how would the author have known word-for-word what so-and-so said about such-and-such at times when they weren't there? Furthermore, how in the heck would the author have known exactly what Father Shafer said in Latin? Did he take a course in Latin and use his photographic memory to decipher what Father Shafer said? Does he have a printout of the incantation saved somewhere for future reference?
See, what makes campfire ghost stories so compelling is that the person telling the story is vague about the itty bitty details. They give you just enough information to wet your appetite while letting your imagination drive you wild with anxiety and wonder.
There are some bits that are just objectively goofy like when a character says they're now running from “the ghost of Dale Earnhardt” or when the Ghost Busters are brought up. Hey, we can't fault the author for lightening the mood of what could've been a pretty dark, dreary, and depressing story.
Instead, this is actually a very fun and thrilling story with some good camp and humor mixed in.
Check it out on Amazon!