I have to admit,I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. Ever since stumbling across a tattered paperback copy of Robert Marasco’s Burnt Offerings one summer in my youth, I’ve been hooked on all things ghostly. Give me an isolated location, some restless and malevolent spirits, and a dash of grief and guilt, and call me a happy reader. That said, April A. Taylor’s The Haunting of Cabin Green sucked me in from the first page.
Opening with a near-accident on a fog enshrouded road in the woods, the novel moves from the literal landscape fog to plumb the depths of the metaphorical fog of memory, history, and grief. What impressed me with this novel is both its attention to Gothic atmosphere and its examination of grief, loss, and depression.
I enjoyed the non-linear narrative, the way Taylor sutures events from the past with the ongoing story of Ben, the central character, as he visits a remote cabin in the woods hoping to find time to reflect on the death of his fiancee. But, as with all great Gothic tales, that inward turn to self examination leads to a slow invasion of the paranormal into the “real” world.
And the “real” world isn’t so real after all. I won’t reveal the twist that occur over the course of the novel, but suffice to say that once lulled into complacency by the standard Gothic trappings of the opening, Taylor pulls the rug out from under her readers as reality becomes more of an illusion mutually agreed upon rather than an objective fact. As the sense of claustrophobia steadily increases to an almost unbearable degree, the seemingly random temporal digressions begin to point to a well-structured and integrated climax.
I read this book in one sitting, staying up late into the dark night and frequently pausing to listen for sounds in my home and fighting the urge to turn on all the lights. If you’re a fan of ghost novels like Matheson’s Hell House, Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Simmons’ A Winter Haunting, or Siddon’s The House Next Door you will love this one!