The Witching House: Brian Moreland
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Brian Moreland is a name that frequently comes up when I ask for recommended authors to read. In all honesty, I have 5 or 6 of his releases but have only read ‘Tomb of Gods’ which was absolutely fantastic.
KR: You can read Steve’s Kendall Review for Tomb Of Gods HERE
So it was, after another recommendation on Twitter, that I check out ‘The Witching House,’ This is a brutal, fast-paced novella, one that I read in a single sitting and had a blast the entire time.
This was originally released in 2013, but the Kindle version I have is the re-released 2017 edition that begins with a prequel short story. While I did enjoy the story a lot, the events that occur in that short story are shared during the novella, so if you have an older copy, don’t stress, you won’t miss anything.
What I liked: Forty years after a massacre happened at the Blevins house in Texas, two couples venture to the location, aided by a local guide, to do some Urban Exploration of this supposed haunted place.
Look, I’m a massive fan of Urban Exploration (even if I personally don’t do it). I love seeing photos and videos of this stuff and the crazy things left behind and are discovered. So, this was right up my alley, add in the black magic/witches coven aspect and you’ll have an idea of what you’re in for. Moreland creates a really dark location for the events to take place and every creak and groan of the old structure elicits fear from the reader. We know something horrible is going to happen, we just don’t yet know what – but when it does, Brian ensures that it is gore upon gore upon gore.
I also will add that I really liked the way the house was inhabited and ‘alive.’ This is one of those bits where I’d like to expand upon that but due to potential spoilers, it may ruin some things. But Moreland makes it ultra-creepy and incredibly unnerving.
What I didn’t like: Two things really. The first is a plot issue that kind of annoyed me. Dean is the guy who arranges for them to meet the guide and go to this location. We’re told that Dean and the guide are friendly and know each other through Urban Exploration stuff. We also are told that the guide has previously sent photos of other locations to the group for their website. But then later on, this guide shares that he couldn’t believe this group fell for his fake website he made to get them to come out here. Just didn’t add up and for the shortness of the read, it stuck with me.
Secondly, and while it had a negative purpose in an effort to minimize the one character specifically – I really, really hate the use of the R-word in any form. I get what Moreland was attempting to do, and this was released a decade ago when the prevalence of that word was certainly more widely used, but it had me rolling my eyes in frustration when I came across it a few times.
Why you should buy this: Think of this as ‘The Blair Witch Project’ meets an Urban Exploration attempt and you’ll get the idea of how horrific and frightening this story gets. Moreland does a fantastic job of getting us on board with the characters quickly and root for them, even when we know things won’t be ending well.
i really enjoyed this one, so much so, I’ve already started another novella by Brian called ‘Darkness Rising.’
The Witching House
Some houses should be left alone.
In 1972, twenty-five people were brutally murdered in one of the bloodiest massacres in Texas history. The mystery of who committed the killings remains unsolved.
Over forty years later, Sarah Donovan is dating an exciting man, Dean Stratton. Sarah’s scared of just about everything–heights, tight places, the dark – but today she must confront all her fears, as she joins Dean and another couple on an exploring adventure.
The old abandoned Blevins House, the scene of the gruesome massacre, is rumored to be haunted. The two couples are about to discover the mysterious house has been waiting all these years, craving fresh prey.
And down in the cellar they will encounter a monstrous creature that hungers for more than just human flesh.
Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.