As a little boy, I grew up in a very close-knit community. Me and all the other kids in the neighborhood would meet up anywhere we could (at our houseAs a little boy, I grew up in a very close-knit community. Me and all the other kids in the neighborhood would meet up anywhere we could (at our houses, at the local park, in our front yards) and share ghost stories. We would try our best to come up with the most clever and realistic ones, all in the hopes of being the best storyteller. Daemon Hall by Andrew Nance took me back to that time in my life.
Daemon Hall is about Ian Tremblin, an eccentric and mysterious author, whose fascination with horror stories prompts him to come up with a writing contest. In this contest, people are encouraged to submit their best horror stories, and Ian Tremblin will then pick out the five finalists (Wade Reilly, Kara Bakshi, Demarius Keating, Chelsea Flynt, and Chris Collins) to come to Daemon Hall where they will share their stories with him – and each other. The winner of the contest will then see their story published.
This book was an easy read, and reminded me of a cross between the movie, The House on Haunted Hill, and the novel, Campfire Ghost Stories by Jo-Anne Christensen (which I love). I had a lot of fun reading this novel. Nance did a great job creating an entertaining premise. The mood he set throughout the novel was great, and the creativity within the myriad stories was also commendable. Reading Daemon Hall did make me feel all warm and nostalgic.
Now, with all that said, I couldn’t give this book more than 3 stars…and there are two reasons why.
The first reason: While I appreciated the creativity within Nance’s writing, some of the stories lost their impact and relevance in the translation. An example is Chelsea’s story (The Babysitter (Revisited)), which was written like a script/chat room conversation. In the novel, Chelsea encouraged everyone to play a part in her story, but the reader had no choice but to read every line ourselves, thus diminishing the impact of her story. Chelsea’s story would have been better told in a group setting. The impact of what Nance was trying to achieve would have been much more powerful that way.
The second – and most important reason – were the stories themselves. They were not scary. I prefer horror stories to be a bit more graphic and provocative, and Daemon Hall was probably written with a younger audience in mind and so, I wasn’t that impressed. This novel would probably satiate a young teenager’s appetite for scary stories (and there are plenty in the book). But even with that said, I could see many teenagers scoffing at the majority of the content.
Still, I would recommend Daemon Hall. Just be aware that the stories are short, entertaining, and not that frightening. And when the follow-up (Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots) comes out later this year, I will still pick up a copy. The child in me will always love ghost stories – even if they aren’t as provocative as I prefer. I just hope the next book in the series pushes the envelope a little more. ...more