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3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  79 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
A chilling and mysterious voice becomes audible to Sanie shortly after she and her husband Jackson move into the decaying antebellum mansion that is the Bullard ancestral home in rural South Carolina. At first, she wonders if the voice might be a prank played by Jackson's peyote-popping brother Will or his equally off-kilter sister Louise. But soon Sanie discovers that the ...more
Hardcover, 179 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Night Shade Books
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Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
There are different types of ghosts at work in this story, meaning that there are ghosts you can see and hear, and then there are the ghosts you can't lay to rest that lay within you personally. This book, on that level, reminded me somewhat of Stephen King's book The Shining, where isolation leads to a spiral into the dark side.

On the surface, Shepard's book is a ghost story, but it's mingled with a bit of drama on the domestic front. Jackson and Sanie Bullard are living in a small town in Sout
Jul 11, 2007 jillian rated it liked it
I found this book to be unpleasant to read - but only for me. I dislike books where the protagonist is trapped, unable to simply leave a bad or deteriorating situation. And in "Softspoken", that's exactly the case. The main character is stuck in a haunted family home, with her husband, his crazy druggie brother, and their possibly autistic sister. And, unlike most of those ancestral Southern homes, this one is hopeless, without charm, and too decayed to love. As Sanie wanders the house, taking p ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Hugo and Nebula Award winner Lucius Shepard reveals himself as the master of the ghost story in Softspoken, a short novel packed with plenty of atmosphere and big scares. (Shepard's best work to date has been his novellas, which explains the success of such a compressed novel.) Critics favorably compare Softspoken to The Haunting of Hill House, Ghost Story, and Bag of Bones, among other horror classics, and to the work of Tim Powers and James Blaylock, who have similarly crossed over. They also

Dec 14, 2007 Loren rated it did not like it
Shelves: to-be-sold
Southern Gothic about a family going mad because their home may be engulfed in a vortex that draws in ghosts, the spirits of living people, reflections of the future, and crows. Or maybe not. Told by the least interesting character in the book, a bored housewife who can't be bothered to leave a loveless marriage and who becomes an unaware and inactive ghost. I don't know why I finished reading this.
Aug 12, 2008 Trudi rated it it was ok
Loved the strong female narrative voice. Great descriptive prose. HATED the ending. Too ambiguous, not enough closure. Very dissatisfying. Would definitely read more by this author though.
Feb 08, 2012 Lori rated it it was ok
Shelves: haunted-house
I was hopefully intrigued by this little book. The premise reminded me of one of my favorite little sub genres of story: Irritating/Unlikeable Rich People Get Haunted. There was a certain formula movie in the 1960s and 1970s where an ensemble cast of wealthy d-bags would find themselves in a haunted house for a long weekend. The premise generally involved some super monied dead relative who had written a tenet in his will that required said d-bags to be present in the creepy manse in order to co ...more
Jul 19, 2008 Anna rated it it was ok
Softspoken is sort of Southern gothic horror. I thought it was going to be a ghost story, but it was so much more than that. It was so complex that I'm still trying to figure out what the heck happened at the end. The book tells the story of Sanie Bullard, who moves from North Carolina to the antebellum mansion in South Carolina belonging to her husband's family. Jackson seeks refuge in the home so that he can study for the bar exam in peace, but the moment he and Sanie enter the house, he becom ...more
M Griffin
Nov 14, 2011 M Griffin rated it really liked it
Sanie Bullard has accompanied her husband Jackson back to his rural home town in South Carolina. Jackson wants to study for the bar, and Sanie is left on her own so much that she's forced to confront just how lacking her marriage is. Jackson's ancestral home, occupied by his crazy brother and sister, seems to be haunted by some kind of quiet, whispering spirit. Sanie keeps herself occupied by hanging around down at the country store half a mile down the road, and finds herself drawn by the flirt ...more
Feb 11, 2008 Kit rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary Kay
Oct 01, 2012 Mary Kay rated it liked it
Satisfyingly spooky! A genre blend of sci-fi, horror, and mystery, this is also a good old-fashioned haunted house story in the southern gothic tradition. Dorky sci-fi humor keeps it from getting too dark.

Desperate main character, Sanie, hears voices calling to her in her new home, a rumbling old mansion filled with family history. This history is her husband's, not her own, and at the moment their marriage is faltering, so she feels left to sort out the phenomenon of the voices herself -- mean
May 16, 2009 Therese rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 01, 2010 Seoda rated it it was ok
Sigh. I liked what little there was of it, until the last vaguely crappy-thriller-movie-esque section. I read it in its entirety in one sitting, and felt more irritated than anything else when it was over. Also, this is one of those stories where most the characters are vaguely unsympathetic, and the ones that piqued my interest--such as the sister-- were never given a full "reveal". Perhaps my desire for more closure runs counter to the spirit of the book, but the writing style pulled me in, an ...more
Jul 16, 2013 Bryce rated it it was ok
While the writing itself was beautiful, this book left me yawning and irritated. I am a sucker for plot and for characters with sweeping arcs. I want rises and falls and lessons learned. I don't necessarily need a happy ending, but I do want a definitive ending.

Softspoken, with its trapped characters and moment-of-a-life style, was not my cup of tea at all.
Nov 05, 2007 Devo rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those in search of the vortex.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. Some lines are laugh-out-loud funny, but sometimes Shepard goes on a tangent (Sanie’s an aspiring author, and Shepard unnecessarily inserted some of her writing into the story). I would definitely recommend reading this novel, but only if you don’t mind having unanswered questions when you finish.
Oct 26, 2013 Koeeoaddi rated it really liked it
Recommended to Koeeoaddi by: Auntiepam
Shelves: haunted
One of the most astonishingly creepy books I've ever read -- a horrifying little ghost story that seemed like just another dreary tale of marital ennui, until....

Happy Halloween, Mr. Shepard. I'll be visiting your claustrophobic, hopeless, depressing, haunted vortex for many nights to come.
Aug 16, 2011 Naomi rated it did not like it
This book seemed all over the place to me and the story jumped around. I guess I was expecting a true haunted house/ghost story..imo, it was anything but! The only really good thing is that it was a relatively short book that I was able to wrap up very quickly!
Marian Alden
Feb 15, 2010 Marian Alden rated it liked it
how come I dislike Gaiman but I was awed by this?
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Brief biographies are, like history texts, too organized to be other than orderly misrepresentations of the truth. So when it's written that Lucius Shepard was born in August of 1947 to Lucy and William Shepard in Lynchburg, Virginia, and raised thereafter in Daytona Beach, Florida, it provides a statistical hit and gives you nothing of the difficult childhood from which he frequently attempted to ...more
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