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The Watching / Paul Melniczek

Bad Moon Books / October 2009
Reviewed by:  Joan Turner

Paul Melniczek’s novella The Watching is the first in the new Halloween line from Bad Moon Books. Jill Bauman’s cover and artwork are outstanding. The Watching is a limited edition of one-hundred-fifty numbered paperback copies and twenty-six lettered hardcover copies. The story has interesting concepts, but unfortunately, fails to achieve its full potential. It is a fusion of fantasy and mild horror with a bright, near-fairytale beginning. The mood and atmosphere then change as the story descends toward a dark conclusion. In addition to being caught between genres, several of the main characters are one-dimensional – either totally good or totally evil – and most of the dramatic action takes place off stage. 

Pat is a happy little girl who lives on the farm with her adoring Aunt Margie and Uncle Ray. Ray’s sister, Trish, who also lives with them, is Pat’s caretaker. Trish is Pat’s favorite aunt and best friend. The only problem is that Trish is fond of good naturedly teasing Pat and telling her scary stories that sometimes frighten her. One day Trish tells Pat a terrifying story that upsets her and makes her angry. That night she has trouble sleeping.

Getting out of bed, Pat goes to her window and looks out, her mind filled with spooky and bad thoughts. She has an overactive imagination that she sometimes thinks is a tangible entity, a separate being that sleeps inside her mind with a mind and life of its own. This night she instinctively knows that her imagination is wide awake.

She hears a voice from below and peering down sees her Aunt Trish trying to coax one of the family cats into the house. Suddenly Pat hears a sound like something being stretched. Then something reaches out from the darkness of the house, grabs Trish and pulls her back into the shadows. No clue is ever found to explain Trish’s disappearance.

The story takes a downward turn that is ever more somber and depressing as unseen entities Pat calls her “keepers” deal mercilessly with anyone perceived as a threat, even those who love her most and only want to protect her. 

While the story’s characterization and narration are less than satisfying, The Watching does have potential. The entity born of the lead character’s imagination is an intriguing villain, presenting an interesting hypothesis of the supernatural and the power of the subconscious mind.

Purchase The Watching by Paul Melniczek.

Posted on Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 11:33AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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