Reviews - What do customers think about Hook House And Other Horrors?
A Collection of Lovely stories in a genre where you don't usually hear that word Jan 10, 2007
There is something so understated and bittersweet about these tales, that to call them "horror," with all the images of dismemberments and psychopaths that that word conjures, seems terribly unfair and misleading. They remind me of the Twilight Zone episodes and Alfred Hitchcock stories I grew up with, in which there was always some sense of justice and retribution and order, even if they included sadness or pain. I highly recommend this collection.
Strange Happenings, Without Unnecessary Violence and Gore Mar 31, 2006
I like to read Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, where Sherry Decker's work has been published multiple times. I found out about Hook House and read a little about it at the publishers website, where it mentions that Hook House features stories with a "a uniquely female point of view". This started me thinking about buying the book for my wife. When it appeared that the book was full of characters that might be ripped right out of one of her favorite TV shows -- Charmed, Buffy, or pick any crime show -- I was sold. I bought it as a gift for her.
Since Hook House and an audio CD comprised my first ever purchase from this site, I felt compelled to read Hook House for myself and see what I had purchased. Fortunately for me, there wasn't any gore or serious violence. Nevertheless, I was creeped out at times. In the following list, I'll tell you a little about each short story. Also, I will present them in the order I liked them, with the first one being my favorite.
Hook House - This was my favorite story of the bunch. Hook House is haunted by the people who have lived there in the past. All of them have met with terrible deaths. These moments are often replayed in ghostly fashion, much to the horror of the owners who are still alive. The house seems to have a life of it's own. The housekeeper-cook, Mrs. Soul, makes this spooky house even spookier. You'll see what I mean when you read about her. The descriptions in this story are really captivating. You'll feel like you're part of the story.
The Clan - This story is a rather tongue in cheek look at two neighbors. They escalate from petty bickering to all out war. The explanations of how things really are about Vampires, etc. as compared to commonly held societal beliefs are rather humorous. I found myself chuckling from time to time.
A City in Italy - This story starts out with a pychologist visiting a patient at their home. The patient knows that the psychologist thinks something is wrong with her, but she's not going to let the psycologist get the best of her. What does the pyschologist want and what on earth is going on? This one has a nifty ending.
Tarissa - This story is a spin on the old salem witch trials. There's a lot of action in this story, which is why I'm partial to it. You'll love the touching ending to this story.
Chazzabryom - This story is extra scary and reminds me a bit of Silence of the Lambs with all the visits to the incarcerated. Let's hope the convict never escapes. You'll find out how the life of the journalist sent to do a story on the convict is affected.
Heat Waves - A little girl hears the thought-talk voices of some strange creatures while her parents talk to the church pastor after the service. She runs off to investigate and gets involved in their shenanigans.
Gifts From The North Wind - A mother tries to shield her daughter from the outside world, because her daughter has a special gift and her mother wants to protect her against what outsiders will think. In the end, what will become of her daughter?
Hicklebickle Rock - A storied boulder with the resemblance of a woman looking over the water of the nearby bay captures the imagination of young Cassie. As Cassie goes about her life, she'll find out if there's any truth to the legends and what it means for her.
Jessica Fishbone - An elderly woman who doesn't seem quite right in the head, really enjoys her privacy from the outside world. What happened in her past that led her to be this way. How will it affect what's going on in her life today? What happend in the lives of her family when she was younger?
Shivering, We Dance - This story gave me the heebie jeebies, ditto with the next story. That's why I rate them so low. I'm not partial to stories that give me the creeps. If you enjoy that kind of thing, you'll probably rate this story much higher on your list. This story deals with the sole survivor of someone's family going to identify the corpse -- alone. From there it gets shivery.
Twisted Wishes, Twighlight Dreams - This story gave me the heebie jeebies too. It deals with a daughter who has promised to always take care of her mother. At night, she is visited by a spooky creature. Was the creature real or a dream? What does the creature want and what does it seem to be offering?
Overall, readers that like stories about strange happenings, without unnecessary violence and gore, will appreciate this collection of short stories. The stories involve a strong sense of family and are presented from female perspectives. Ratings for the individual stories are anywhere from 5 Stars (Really terrific) to 4 Stars (Pretty darn good) to 3 Stars (Okay). On the whole, I think you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of this book and I recommend it.
An Honest Appraisal Feb 28, 2006
HOOK HOUSE and Other Horrors by Sherry Decker is mixed bag of well written short fictions liberally laced with others that might best be termed as filler. A slender volume for the price, at its best it is a combination of traditional structures brought up to date to reflect twenty-first century sensibilities.
"Hook House," the lead off and title tale is a traditional gothic story about a creepy old house, its malevolent spirit and the generations of tortured souls it has ensnared and corrupted, told compellingly from the perspective of the most recent victim to be embraced by the writhing tentacles of the familial curse. Brilliantly, it keeps the reader on the edge of his chair waiting to see if the heroine will extricate herself or become the next casualty as it slowly unfolds its cloying petals. It stands by far head and shoulders above most of the rest.
"Hicklebickle Rock," another strong contender, is a stark murder mystery evocatively told from the perspective of a precocious eight year old girl whose reality consists of a sadly dysfunctional family and an ancient spirit living in the middle of a secluded bay. Realism walks comfortably hand and hand with dark fantasy.
"The Clan" is a strained account of an escalating dispute between suburban neighbors, one of whom happens to be a vampire, and the other a witch as told by someone with a questionable sense of humor who is attempting comedy. This one is definitely filler.
An eight year old telepath gets a harsh lesson in life's hidden dangers one summer Sunday morning after church, when all she really wants to do is pee in "Heat Waves." Well crafted, it is not really so much a story as a character study. Filler.
A series of interviews by a tabloid journalist with an otherworldly serial killer, "Chazzabryom" is both a mystery and a portrait in black, with chills and humor eclectically blended. Two stories here, one of the demon possessed man who sucks out his victims' eyes, and one of the journalist who is drawn into the demon's web. It is one of her better efforts although it suffers from the poor choice of names selected for the demonic characters-another attempt at comedy that falls a little flat.
"Shivering, We Dance," will leave you cringing the next time you hear the Tennessee Waltz. A tale of best revenge, served cold to be sure, but not quite as tasty as those goodies from the delicatessen for the perpetrator. A perennial favorite of the author, she has published this tale three times in as many years before including it in this collection.
"Gifts from the North Wind," is a haunting tale of resurrection magic, with a bittersweet flavor. Quietly understated, this one is a genuine delight.
A disturbing tale of insanity, guilt, compulsion, desire and hallucination, "Twisted Wishes, Twilight Dreams," is chillingly reminiscent of Poe's Tell Tale Heart and another respectable offering.
"A City in Italy," is hard to describe without giving anything away-a cleverly composed point-of-view exercise playing on the nagging doubts of a surviving twin on her way to oblivion, it is a theme that has been explored elsewhere but perhaps not always as well.
"Jessica Fishbone" is yet another account of a surviving twin, but one of realization eventually overcoming denial. This is unquestionably one of the best written tales here.
"Tarissa," an account of a witch's revenge rounds out the collection with a peal of thunder and a sizzle of lightning but not much else. Filler.
All but one of these short fictions have been previously published which makes this reader wonder if the author has held back her best work in the hopes of publishing it elsewhere. She has considerable talent, which is clearly evidenced in many of these short works--there is no question about that. Although there may be one too many witch stories, surviving twin stories, eight year old girl dealing with adversity stories in a collection this scant for most readers.
Enjoyable Shivers Feb 25, 2006
Nice mix of mystery, suspense and terror! Great descriptions, realistic settings and believable characters.
A stimulating ride Feb 23, 2006
I don't usually read stories in the horror genre, but a friend recommended Hook House, and I was delighted with it. The stories are tight and engaging, and took me on a series of varied and stimulating rides. I particularly liked Hicklebickle Rock and Chazzabryom, and appreciate Sherry Decker's ability to make her characters come to life. A truly enjoyable read. A Reader from North Bend, WA