Tag Archives: story

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

Teen Picks: Breathe by Cliff McNish

You know those book fairs that your school hosted back when you were a kid? That’s where my little sister and I stumbled upon a book called Breathe. We were suckers for ghost stories like books by Mary Downing Hahn, and this seemed like it was right up our alley. We stole it away into our bedrooms and read it under the blankets late, late into the night using flashlights. I still have the original copy we shared. I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite ghost stories. Not only is it easy to read, it is fantastically vivid and well written.

It follows the story of Jack and his mother, Sarah, a mother and son who move into a haunted farmhouse where the souls of four children are being held hostage by what is known as the Ghost Mother, a spirit that feeds off of other souls to prevent being taken away by the Nightmare Passage. The Nightmare Passage is an Inferno-esque plain of ice where a constant wind beats and batters its residents. It is where the souls of those who refuse to go (or are kept from going) to the Other Side eventually are taken.

The book is full of metaphors for abusive behavior, rape and sacrifice. The Ghost Mother tortures these poor children’s souls, feeds off of them, and even forces one of them to try to behave like a daughter. It is disgusting. Disturbing. And it’s not hard at all to hate her. The children, who are put through so much pain and suffering, do eventually find redemption and get a happy ending, thank goodness. As does Jack and Sarah. For most of the book the Ghost Mother possesses Sarah and actively abuses Jack, emotionally and physically. It’s gut wrenching to read as Jack desperately tries to save his own mother.

All in all, it is an incredible story about loyalty, fighting for the one’s we love, about the acceptance of death, and how death is not the end. I reread this book every once and a while, because boy-howdy is it a doozy. Talk about heavy. And reading it as a twelve year old? You can bet that my sister and I had some nightmares after the first time. Sheesh. But we still love it, and in fact, it still comes up in conversations sometimes. The deep and complex issues of abuse and consent, as well as life after death, the different afterlife planes, the inspiration from Dante’s nine circles of Hell inspiring the landscape for the Nightmare Passage. It is a really fascinating read. I highly recommend it. I give it a 4/5, just because it does have some pretty sensitive topics it covers.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill | The Book SmugglersThe ...

I first saw The Woman in Black in theaters, when it first came out. I own it and watch it on a regular (at least once or twice a year) now. It is a very, very, very creepy movie. And I purchased the book not long after I saw the movie for the first time. Say what you will about the movie OR the book, but one thing is very true about both: they are very, very creepy. There is just such an eerie way that the story is told and presented. Its just anxiety-inducing and frankly, a little jarring. I reread the book for what I think is the third of fourth time to do this review, so it would be fresh in my memory, and I had forgotten how many differences there were to the movie.

First of all, Arthur Kipps is a VERY different man in the book than he is in the movie. He isn’t struggling, and hasn’t lost his wife. In fact, he is not even married yet and he’s practically a partner at the law firm he works at. He starts the book off telling the story from his perspective as an older man, not ‘old’ persay, but older than the events of the movie. Before the whole ordeal at the Eel Marsh House, he is a cheerful and happy person. Another key difference is that the innkeeper, the coach driver and Mr. Jerome are all very kind and polite to him in the book, whereas in the movie they are all…well…rude and cold. I think this made a pretty big difference. And while Mr. Jerome’s attitude towards Arthur does change, the others don’t. Also, Mr. Daily is actually kind of distant and cold in the beginning and then they slowly become friends.

One of the biggest things that is downplayed in the movie that is actually really important in the book is Spider, Mr. Daily’s dog that becomes Arthur’s companion in surviving the horrors of the Eel Marsh house. He becomes very, very attached to her (not in a weird way. like in a cute loyal way) and actually risks his life to save her. In fact, Mr. Daily says that he will give Arthur one of her puppies as soon as she has a litter. It is not until after Arthur leaves Crythin Grifford that he gets married and has a son (and makes Samuel Daily the godfather. Awwwww.) that tragedy strikes and his wife and son are killed due to the Woman in Black returning for revenge. Arthur, however, lives to remarry and be a father to several step children. Unlike in the movie, where Arthur dies with his son.

So, yeah, in short the movie is really good, AND the book is really good but there are definitely some huge differences between the two, to the point to where the kind of paint a different story. I think that the book had more of a slow-creepy-eerie-unsettling feeling to it, while the movie was definitely more jump-scary. I definitely recommend the book to any horror fans out there, however, especially those who like British Period Horror pieces. It’s very well written, and while it does have some slow parts, its still a fairly enjoyable and easy read. Overall, I give it a 4/5.