Tuesday, May 29, 2007

#42 - The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan

I love ghost stories, so I decided that this would be a good book to read. I'd heard the story before from melodramatic television documentaries, and I saw the movie a few months ago when it first came out on DVD.

The story goes something like this......wealthy landowner hacks off weird witch woman. Weird witch woman curses wealthy landowner. Ghost comes to haunt landowner's family. Landowner's family and the haunting become a spectacle. Landowner dies. Ghost leaves after having the last word.

Obviously, Monahan took the Bell Witch ghost tale and added more umph to the story -- the spirit talks, interacts with many people, and basically causes all sorts of problems -- to make this a good novel. And then he adds the surprise ending to explain the haunting.

I'll give the book the same comment I gave the movie. "It's ok.'' I felt the ending of the story smacked lightly of Scooby Doo -- it's not a ghost....it's a person. I can't elaborate as I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the movie adaptation. And, to me, Monahan added a bit too much to the story. The Witch doesn't talk just a little bit.....she talks a lot. She nearly does a tap dance and magic act to draw attention to herself.

The original Bell Witch tale is just a story about the Bell family members being attacked by an unknown force and ends with John Bell finally becoming deathly ill and dying because of the curse. The original tale without all the embellishment to me is more scary than this dressed up version. An unseen force that you can't reason with is much more frightening than a spirit that talks, sings, recites Scripture, interacts with the family, shows kindness, etc.

Too much story......not enough scary. In fact, Monahan's version really isn't scary at all.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 22/50


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