The notion of a group of people going for an overnight stay in an allegedly haunted hotel or house is not something new. Indeed it is often the stuff that horror books and movies are based on. Two notable books that spring to mind and employ just such a plot are:
The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson and Hell House a novel by American novelist Richard Matheson and published in 1971.
Both of these works follow a similar storyline whereby a group of individuals get together to investigate houses that seem to exhibit strange or paranormal activity. Undoubtedly the recipe for a great horror or thriller, haunted houses aren’t really ground breaking in terms of new film or book ideas. However, in 2012 a innovative and fresh approach to this tried and tested storyline has just arrived in the form of The Haunted Mansion Project – Year One. This brand new title presented by Rain Graves and edited by E.S. Magill, takes the age old concept of a haunted house to a new and exciting level. Unlike it’s predecessors the writers of this book really did live and write from an old and seemingly haunted house.
Somewhere in a classified location in California during a weekend in the Autumn of 2010 a group of experienced paranormal investigators called the ‘Ghost Girls’ were invited to join a group of predominantly horror and fiction writers at a large and allegedly haunted mansion. So what exactly does happen when a bunch of writers and paranormal investigators are holed up together in a haunted house for a weekend in real life?
The result is a wonderful anthology that comprises of a collection of the fiction, poetry, journals, real impressions, and investigative conclusions inspired by that weekend. Some of the writers share their secret fears, desires and even the disembodied voices from beyond the grave. The book is packed with everything from a crisis of faith, ghostly encounters, domestic abuse, twilight meetings, ghostly seduction, shadowy figures, tarot, seances and much more. There really is a little bit of something for every ghost fan out there.
The book is an eclectic mix of genuine scientific facts and findings combined with fictional short stories and poems that are divided up into bite sized chapters. This makes it easy for the reader to dip in and out of the book. The ‘Ghost Girls’ are a genuine team of paranormal investigators and they provide their findings which are documented early on. This really does help to set the scene and adds the dimension of reality to the book. Some photographs are also included to show the reader what they found; for example there is a particularly interesting picture of a dark figure that blocked out the light on their infrared camcorder.
Participation in the Haunted Mansion Project clearly left its mark on all of those involved in its creation, indeed in the words of E.S. Magill, one of the writers:
“The setting—house and grounds—affected us deeply, evident in every essay and story you’ll find between these covers. It could even be said that the place haunted us and haunts us still.”
Interestingly some of the proceeds from this anthology are to go towards future Haunted Mansion Project events. This is really good to know because the Haunted Mansion Project Year One is a great start to what could become a series to definitely look out for in the future. It’s one to watch!