Review: Spook Lights by Eden Royce



Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these tales of Southern Gothic horror:


Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….


These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated. The stories are rich in flavor and clever in metaphor, the horrors completely surreal or—far more unnerving—all too possible. She brings a refreshing perspective to the table that paranormal lovers are sure to enjoy.


—B.D. Bruns, author of The Gothic Shift


***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***


I have to agree with the review/blurb above- the stories here are wonderfully atmospheric. A central theme running through them is the climes and cultures of the Deep South rooted in the African diaspora- gullah, geechi, obeah, even Native American, West African and Haitian.


Like all short story collections some will stay with you and some you'll breeze through. The Choking Kind is my favorite- a tale of love gone wrong where a woman in search of her mother's grave discovers she might not be dead after all. Hand of Glory- about a police detective with a perfect case record- was all too short; just when it might be getting interesting it was over. Path of the War Chief- the widow of a warchief proving her worth to lead the tribe into battle- was also pretty good. A little confusing, but good.


One thing I found off-putting was the overabundance of women-against-bad men tales. The first six stories and nine of the twelve are built upon this device- as well as the old seeress who walks with shadows; only one man does any conjuring- which got to be kind of stale and repetitive after a while. One of the stories takes the form of a tone poem that helps change things up.


Spook Lights is one of those books that you want to kick back with on a warm night and let the magic take you away... well, hopefully not. 4.5/5 Stars