Tales from the Graveyard: The Complete Collection by Susan Shultz

Received from NetGalley for review.

2.5 stars

Tales from the Graveyard is a collection of short stories by Susan Shultz. They all focus on a New England house where terrible things have happened, and keep happening – a historical house of horror that has been continually filled with abuse, betrayal, and murder. We are introduced to a series of characters that have recurring roles throughout the stories: The Blacksmith, Jessie, Ainsley, and Sam. They each have their own story, which is told across the four stories. For a collection that is meant to be scary Tales from the Graveyard fails spectacularly; although some of the stories are a bit disturbing, there is no sense of fear, menace, or tension. I think they’re actually too short to develop any sense of anything, and the writing style in most of the stories is bland and boring, more like a list of facts than an actual story, so the narrative could be very stilted. Essentially it is a collection of stories about bat shit crazy women, some of whom are just drama queens, in need of a slap and a dose of reality. The only reason I finished this collection was because the stories were so short and easy to read.

Book 1: The Blacksmith, 2.5 stars

-Introduces us to Ainsley, one of the main characters throughout the series. She is deeply disturbed by her past and becomes insane because of it. She longs to feel warmth in her ‘dead heart’.
-Narrative is stilted and reads quite juvenile. It’s the kind of writing I would expect from mediocre GCSE students.
-Quite an interesting read, though. Ainsley’s insanity is weirdly fascinating, as is watching her obsession with Sam unfold.
-Also introduces us to The Blacksmith who seems to be a central figure throughout the series. He seems to have some kind of power about him, where he draws people into darkness and leads them to death.

Book 2: Jessie, 3 stars

-Tells the story of Jessie, a ghost from the first book. She is an abused wife, who finds solace with The Blacksmith
-This is the most well written story; the descriptions are lovely and I had a real sense of the time period and atmosphere. Jessie was the only character I felt any sympathy for. Her tale is truly tragic.

Book 3: Dirt, 2 stars

-Tells the story of Lila, a journalist who becomes obsessed with Ainsey’s story, at the cost of her mental health.
-This was my least favourite story. Lila is stroppy and annoying, a silly drama queen who descends into madness for no reason at all. Her story is ridiculous and not believable on any level. I also think it was the shortest story; it was so fast that no emotion or connection could be created.

Book 4: Sam, 2 stars

-Picks up the story around fifteen years after everything has happened.
-Tells the story of Sam in the aftermath, and his pregnant wife, who move into the abandoned house. There is a dark presence surrounding the house which haunts both of them.
-If this was supposed to bring everything to a neat conclusion, it didn’t. The ending was unsatisfying and didn’t really make sense.

Read: October 16th-17th 2015

2.5/5 stars

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