October 28, 2015

Chasing Tale [Books Received for October 28, 2015]: Oh, Hell House

Chasing Tale is a regular feature on the blog where I highlight the latest books to wind up on my to-be-read pile, followed by a rant on whatever happens to be on my mind.

Nine Toes in the Grave by Eric Beetner - There's a new book coming out by Beetner through All Due Respect Books. Good title, good cover, good author. It's all goood.

Rumrunners by Eric Beetner - This is another one by Beetner, this time from 280 steps, about a family of rum runners who get up to their necks in trouble. I wanna picture a 70s-era Burt Reynolds as the main character, but we'll see.

Toxicity by Max Booth III - This one sounds like some acid-tinged crime fiction here, with an ex-con trying to make the cash to buy custody of his estranged daughter from his ex-wife and her new junkie boyfriend. Sounds like all kinds of crazy.

Never Let Me Sleep / Never Let Me Leave by Jennifer Brozek - The first book in this new YA horror series came out just a week or so ago, and the second book set to be released in a couple weeks. Jennifer will be stopping by the blog next month too, to help shed a little light on this alien-hunting mayhem she's cooked up.

Without Light or Guide by T. Frohock - Speaking of sequels, the second book in Teresa's Los Nefilim series will be released in November as well. Some historical fantasy, anyone? I actually interviewed Teresa about this series, and you can read that by clicking here.

Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski - This is one I could have sworn I bought, but apparently not. At least not since it was rereleased. If you are a fan of revenge horror, I hear this one is a must-read.

The Damaged by Simon Law - Here's a little British horror to get added to my review pile. This one has a bit of the ol' revenge tale to it, with some psychological horror thrown in. We'll see how that goes.

The Humanity of Monsters edited by Michael Matheson - This is a new anthology slated for release in January from Chizine Publications. Michael's gonna stop by the blog in the near future too, to discuss the anthology, so watch out for that.

What Happens in Reno by Mike Monson - Here's another new novella from All Due Respect Books, this time seeing a marriage go from bad to worse when a boozing layabout of a husband runs into some money. I got an interview with Mike coming in November too, so be ready for that.

Wilted Lilies by Kelli Owen - I have an interview with Kelli lined up as well to discuss writing and her latest horror novella, which was originally published as a serial in Lamplight Magazine, but is now available in this complete iteration.

The Ripper Gene by Michael Ransom - Speaking of interviews, I had one just last week with Michael about his new thriller, which you can check out by clicking here. This psycho thriller came out late in the summer and explores the ideas and the science behind genetics of serial killers.

The Silent End by Samuel Sattin - I won a copy of Samuel's YA horror novel a little while back. Small town horror on Halloween night that sees three high school friends take in a wounded monster. Sounds like it could be really good. It's picking up some positive reviews thus far, anyway.

The Dover Demon by Hunter Shea - I interviewed Hunter about this alien invasion novel last month, which you can check out by clicking here. The review copy finally arrived, so it'll be neat to see how this one turns out.

Dead Girls Don't by Mags Storey - Here's some more YA horror, this time from Chi Teen. I don't think I've read anything from Chizine's teen imprint, but this one about a girl who talk to the dead trying to figure out who the town's serial killer sounds like a great premise.

Oh, Hell House

Hell House has been going on for years apparently, but I only learned about it this week. I'm not talking about the Richard Matheson novel, either. I'm referring to faith-based scare tactics used around this time of year to ensure kids go to Heaven when they die, all under the guise of a haunted house attraction.

I guess there was a documentary made about this kind of stuff a few years ago, but I just caught a ten-minute vid on YouTube highlighting the sights of one of these attractions. It was ... eye-opening.

Under what pretenses these kids are brought into the so-called hell house, I don't know, but once inside they are led from room to room so they may witness surprisingly graphic reenactments of domestic abuse, suicide, abortion, drug addiction, and even a school shooting in some cases, all culminating in the players of each scene descending into the pits of Hell for their sins. Sins such as getting an abortion or committing suicide after being drugged and raped. Ya know ... the usual.

It's that school shooting one that may be the most galling aspect, because I'm pretty sure that if I had seen that kind of horror as a child, portrayed by actors(even over-the-top amateurs like those who work in these attractions), I would be absolutely traumatized. And I'm not even sure why the church feels the need to include such a scene. It feels like it's there purely for shock value, tapping into the very real crisis in America of gun violence at schools.

Heck, kids and even adults have needed help exiting the darkened hallways to vomit or break down in sobbing fits over what they've had to watch. And once the kids have witnessed enough blood-soaked propaganda, they finally end the tour in a quiet room where they are told they have two choices in life: either give yourself to Jesus (even offering an adjacent room in which to pray with members of the church; or not, and take there chances outside with the rest of the sinners.

Well, holy crap.

I've never found those extreme haunted houses with monsters of every ilk jumping out of the shadows to be my idea of having a good time. Gimme some candy, a costume, and a jack-o-lantern, and I'm good. I'm laid back like that, but I won't begrudge somebody who seeks a good time by having the bejesus scared out of them. But hey, if someone else wants to shell out a few bucks to have a few jump scares, more power to 'em. However, subjecting children to a staged school shooting and other agenda-driven scenes for the sake of either converting them to or cementing their existing faith in Christianity (or whatever religion or agenda) is my definition of cruel and unusual. So far as I know, we don't have these events in Canada, and I hope they don't catch on.

But, then again, in the eyes of the organizers, I'm the weird one for celebrating Halloween and not being a devout Christian. It takes all kinds, I guess.

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