December 18, 2014

If You Go Out in the Woods: a review of Kelli Owen's "Crossroads"

by Kelli Owen
Gypsy Press (2014)
84 pages

Available via

I can remember heading out to one of the local cemeteries with a bunch of friends back when we were in high school. It was the middle of the night and we were gonna hold a seance. The ghosts no-showed, but I did get bit on the arm by one big ass bug because I didn't want to break the circle (plus, I had a bit of a crush on the gal whose hand I was holding, and flinching away and squealing about some bug biting me just wasn't an option). But I digress. What I'm getting at is that effing off into a graveyard for some midnight shenanigans sounds more exciting than it actually is. For the teens in Kelli Owen's story though, they get the night of the their lives.

Dean, Tucker, Stephenson, Bobbie, and Jody take off in Dean's pickup onto a back road in search of an old church and graveyard, with a ouija board in tow. Oh, Ouija. You and your abominable deviltry. Now, maybe you were subjected to that PG-13 horror flick, Ouija, this fall and are in no mood to be twice disappointed by hackneyed attempts at horror. Well, fear not, for Kelli Owen is responsible for this tale and she does not f**k around with any PG nonsense. Nor does she let you get to comfortable in how you think this story is going to play out, because it diverges from the predictable and offers up horror from a different source.

The conflicts and cowardice and contradictions found in each of the five characters are wrought out through much of the story, both in its preamble to the ghost play in the woods and after the surprise that lays in wait for them rears its head and scares the bejesus out of them. With the limited time, Kelli afforded herself in writing this novella, she manages to wring each character for all they're worth, though there were a few moments that could've have been stretched, but that's just me getting wrapped up in the interactions when the sh*t hits the fan.

It's a genuine heartpounder.