My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Imagine that you are trapped in a grey area, neither here nor there, in-between time, space, colours, lives. The vivid stories in Grey Area: 13 Ghost Stories bring this scenario to life, with tales of ghosts and forerunners, unlikely hauntings, and messages from beyond. Thirteen strong authors show us what it is like to be in-between in this contemporary, varied, spooky and often touching collection.
The words “trapped in a grey area, neither here nor there” drew me to this book. Sometimes I feel this way in life, imagine the consequences in death! Anyway, this was enough for me to want to read the book and as an avid fantasy reader, I felt it was time for a change. Ghost stories have always been another favourite of mine.
Often you’ll see descriptions that claim “strong authors” used as a selling tool, and the book doesn’t always measure up, but in this case it’s 100% true. I rarely read a collection of short stories where I enjoy every story. There’s always at least one that doesn’t make the grade for me, but “Grey Area” doesn’t fall into that category. I enjoyed EVERY story in this book. They were tight, well written and different from each other.
Is it possible to cry when reading a ghost story? You bet! I did. Twice! “Mildred Mudd’s Epiphany” by Charlotte Musial touched me. As did “This is My Land” by Diane J. Sober. Both are simple, well written stories yet they are powerful in their messages. Both left me feeling sad (for different reasons, but mainly for opportunities lost). Both made me cry because they feed deep feelings of regret and longing. They reminded me that no matter how much we wish to, the past cannot be changed, and we need to make the most of today so we don’t have regrets tomorrow. Of course, things happen to us that are completely out of our control but we can allow those things to shape us. Do we allow ourselves to be free and happy, or do we become bitter and nasty? The ‘allowing’ is our decision.
“Out of the Deep” by D.C. Troicuk is a totally different type of story. It spoke to me because I have connections to a family of miners. Although I’ve never been in a mine, I know how dangerous they can be. This story brought mining to life. It allowed me into the mind of a miner and showed me what it would have been like; the fear, the wait, the pain, the loss. It’s a beautifully written story, with enough detail to spark the imagination, but allows the reader to interpret in their own way too. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
On the darker side is “Teetering on the Edge” by Voula Kappas-Dunn. This story spoke to me on a different level as I’ve known suicide first-hand and I know how it affects a family. This is a story about a woman who carries so much grief and fear that it threatens her sanity and her life. Believe me, fear can take over a healthy mind so quickly it’s frightening. This story can, in fact, be quite true. In the story, the woman receives help from friends and the other side. The important thing is that she does get help.
These are the four stories that impressed me the most, but that doesn’t mean the other nine stories were less entertaining. As I’ve already said, I enjoyed the entire book. Some of the stories explore the possibilities of what might happen after death. Some have those who have passed over coming back to help the living. All left me feeling satisfied and eager to read on.