It's a monstrous maze of a mansion, built by a grief-ridden heiress. A tour guide, about to retire, has given his spiel for so many years that he's gone blind. On this last tour, he's slammed with second sight.
He sees the ghosts he's always felt were there: the bedeviled heiress, her servants, and a young carpenter who lands his dream job only to become a lifelong slave to her obsession. The workman's wife makes it to shore, but he's cast adrift.
And the tour guide comes home to his cat.
As always, I stood by the Here sign under a fig tree sprinkled scantily with small ripe figs. Behind me, as always, I felt the looming massive labyrinth of Weatherlee House.
Being a short man, I habitually assumed a military stance, stretching myself upward at least a quarter of an inch. My clipped hair, which I’m told is mostly gray, added gravitas to my otherwise bland face, or so I imagined. My tour guide’s uniform—crisp navy blazer, burgundy rep tie—bulged only modestly at the midriff. A brass name plate, over the buttoned pocket where my heart might be, labeled me Raymond Smollet. My round wire-rimmed black glasses were the only discordant feature in my demeanor. The fact is that I am blind.
The figs and my necktie hue I knew only by report. The wire-rims made my nose itch. I had tried wrap-arounds, but my supervisor Mr. Bottoms said they looked creepy. In fact, Management surely discerned that I looked even creepier with wire-rims. I could intuit patrons peering in sideways at my fixed milky orbs, a perfect match for those haunted-house billboards that sucked them in. People would pay top dollar to visit alien worlds where the only true risk was blurring a snapshot.
Today was the final day of my life and now the final hour. Final, at least, for life as I had lived it. I stood cockily under my fig tree on the brink of my retirement—a Friday that marked the completion of thirty years as a tour guide of Weatherlee Ghost House.
Many people have heard of the strange Winchester home with its stairwells that led to nowhere and all kinds of bizarre architectural features with no purpose—or was there a purpose? The paranormal fiction account of the house and the weapons heiress behind its creation is expertly imagined by the authors. Bishop and Fuller weave a ghostly account about more than one character who goes mad by giving their lives away to a house built to appease the dead—victims of the weapons created.
Mrs. Weatherlee, the elderly, eccentric heiress responsible for endless building onto her house, feels guilty. How many people died because her family created something destructive that made them rich? Sadly, she drags others into her world, innocent, likeable characters who are drawn by the hands of experts. Every character in this novel is unique, and we are made to see each of their points of view.
Occasionally, I was confused by the timing. There is a lot of switching back and forth between eras, but the overall effect of this was good for the plot and creating a sense of different values.
The characters drive this story, but the setting is critical. This tale could not be told around any but this one-of-a-kind, constantly enlarged, creepy house with the power to ruin people.
The stories of the characters—past and present—overlap and moves the suspense at an ever increasing pace. Themes of family versus work penetrate every pore of the tale, and a psychological drama plays out. It really is unpredictable. How could this possibly end? We learn a little about motives and come to understand irrationality a touch by delving into the lives of these people. The style is realism, an ironic thing for a paranormal story, but symbolism enhances the plot. The mood is somewhat tragic but interesting. I recommend this story for people who love memorable characters and settings and stories told without holding back the punches.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller’s 60+ plays have been produced Off-Broadway, in regional theatres, and in thousands of their own performances coast to coast. Their two public radio series Family Snapshots and Hitchhiking off the Map have been heard nationally. Their books include two previous novels (Realists and Galahad’s Fool), a memoir (Co-Creation: Fifty Years in the Making), and two anthologies of their plays (Rash Acts: 35 Snapshots for the Stage and Mythic Plays: from Inanna to Frankenstein.)
They host a weekly blog on writing, theatre, and life at www.DamnedFool.com. Their theatre work is chronicled at www.IndependentEye.org. Short videos of their theatre and puppetry work are at www.YouTube.com/indepeye. Bishop has a Stanford Ph.D., Fuller is a college drop-out, but somehow they see eye to eye. They have been working partners and bedmates for 57 years.
Conrad Bishop Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AConrad+Bishop&s=relevancerank&text=Conrad+Bishop&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1
Elizabeth Fuller Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AElizabeth+Fuller&s=relevancerank&text=Elizabeth+Fuller&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_2
Conrad Bishop Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4352.Conrad_Bishop
Elizabeth Fuller Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4350.Elizabeth_Fuller
Conrad Bishop Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/conrad.bishop
Elizabeth Fuller Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizful
e-book 99 cents to preorder from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/925035
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