Book Review: “Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror” by Eden Royce


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spook light

Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Fiction, Anthology

Synopsis: Pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. Soak in these tales of Southern Gothic horror:

Sinister shopkeepers whose goods hold the highest price, a woman’s search for her mother drags her into the binding embrace of a monster, a witchdoctor’s young niece tells him a life-altering secret, an investigator who knows how to keep a 100% confession rate….

These are stories where the setting itself becomes a character—fog laced cemeteries, sulfur rich salt marshes—places housing creatures that defy understanding and where the grotesque and macabre are celebrated.

The stories are rich in flavor and clever in metaphor, the horrors completely surreal or—far more unnerving—all too possible. She brings a refreshing perspective to the table that paranormal lovers are sure to enjoy.

—B.D. Bruns, author of The Gothic Shift

You can feel the warm thick air, the rich history and legends, the desperation of the impoverished, and the deep horror of the betrayed.

—Roma Gray, author of Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon

Page Length: 135 pages (electronic edition)


*This is the first time I’ve reviewed an anthology on my blog, so I’ll be sharing a synopsis (I’ll try to be discreet) of all the stories featured in the collection and then discuss my overall thoughts about the book.

The Watered Soul: A man is tired of the fact that he will live for eternity and he tracks down the woman who gave him this “gift”.

Doc Buzzard’s Coffin: The protagonist, a young girl named Janey, and her family are in the process in “burying” their friend Doc. But is he really dead?

9 Mystery Rose: A man visits a mambo (priestess) to find out how to reach his wife beyond the grave in order to find out where she hid “their” money so he can maintain his lavish lifestyle.

Hand of Glory: A female detective is investigating a murder suspect who is uncooperative. She suspects he is behind the crime and pulls a trick out of her sleeve in order to try to get him to confess.

Hag Ride: A woman pleads to her grandmother to conjure up a vengeful being known as “the hag” to make her husband stay faithful to her. But will it work?

Homegoing: A mother visits her son in prison. He was convicted of several murders, but she is in denial that he wasn’t behind the crime.

Turn of a Key: A man named James received a mysterious package with an old-fashioned key. He becomes tempted by the desires that lay within the package due to being unhappy with his wife and overall current life.

Devil’s Playground: An eerie short poem about nighttime being the devil’s playground.

Path of the War Chief: The story follows an Indian woman named Aponi who mourns the loss of her husband who was the chief of the tribe. She goes on a journey to not only become a stronger person for herself, but for her tribe so that she can earn the title of “chief”.

Hatchet Was a Hammer: Sandra, the story’s protagonist is fed up with the years of her husbands abuse and flees to her mother’s new condo for comfort and safety. She finds it strange that there’s a hatchet laying underneath the bed in the guest bedroom…

Rhythm: A man named David travels to Haiti to help out with relief efforts, but also seeks to call on the powerful spirit, Exile Danto, to help him with his problems.

The Choking Kind: A woman returns home in order to visit her father’s grave and searches for answers about where her mother’ grave is located as well. She questions who her mother is and what happened to her.

My overall thoughts about Spook Lights is that this is an amazing collection of stories!  I appreciate the subtle style of gothic horror and that it’s not all about jump scares and intense gore. Instead of things jumping out at you from beyond the pages it’s the suspense that slowly creeps up on you.

I loved how Royce immerses her reader in the deep South, and the sharp attention to detail helps to place you in each of the story’s landscapes. A lot of the stories are blend of fantasy, the supernatural, and the real world giving them so many entertaining elements. Most of the stories also deal with the theme of morals or the seven deadly sins and puts truth to the statement of “be careful what you wish for”.

I found myself enamored by each spooky tale and the sharp twists and turns they made. Especially the endings of tales that had shocking revelations or cliffhangers. Most of the stories read smoothly for me except for Path of the War Chief because I felt like it didn’t belong with the rest of the collection. It’s hard to pick one favorite story out of this collection since they are all good, but I would choose The Choking Kind.

Final Verdict:

If you’re looking for a story collection about with a bit of thrill and spookiness, Spook Lights is the book for you!

4 star rating

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Diverse Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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