The Gothic Tradition Lives On – “Stillwell” by Michael Philip Cash

Michael Philip Cash’s new book Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island is an entrancing new horror novel, or personally, I prefer to call it Gothic. I don’t usually read many new horror novels because I don’t like the blood and guts and gore or the chainsaw massacres, or just the crudeness of a lot of them. I prefer the old nineteenth century Gothic novels – the classics, the good stuff by the masters who really created the genre – I’m sure that’s obvious from this blog’s title and my book.

StillwellBut Stillwell has all the Gothic type elements of the old great books with some new and satisfying elements that make it very readable and enjoyable.

The novel starts just after real estate agent Paul Russo’s wife has died from a debilitating disease. Paul is trying to get his life back on track and raise his children when he is offered the chance to list and sell the Stillwell mansion on Long Island by a friend, son of the late owners. The problem is the owners died in a murder-suicide, the husband killing the wife and then killing himself. Paul needs the money, however, so he agrees to try to sell the house.

But then strange things begin to happen in the house, and in Paul’s dreams, and even his daughter claims that his dead wife is still with them. One night Paul has a dream of a demon and he wakes to find scars on his body. At the house itself, he sees blood stains, even though the site of the murder has been cleaned, and strange things happen, such as when he goes to show the house, new flower arrangements are brought in, only to wilt and die almost immediately.

The house also has quite a past. While the home is completely fictional for the novel, author Cash ties it back to the Revolutionary War, and as the story progresses, Paul discovers that his wife was related to the family and he begins to think her spirit is trapped and in some way that ties into the house being haunted.

I won’t say more or I will give away too much, but there are plenty of good old-fashioned Gothic plot elements here, including a haunting by an ancestral ghost, the plot of illegitimate children and family secrets, and even a discovered old manuscript. Tying into that are more modern elements that are not so much horror or Gothic as paranormal, including a love story and a psychic who comes to do a cleansing of the house. And to top it off, there’s a great twist about who is really causing the haunting.

As I said, the house Stillwell, is fictional, but Cash has based it on plenty of old mansions on Long Island. On his blog he even has photos and tells the stories of the hauntings of some of these houses.

You can find out more about Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island and view some of the photos of the Long Island mansions  and other haunted places at the author’s website http://michaelphillipcash.com/pages/home and its accompanying blog. Cash is also the author of Brood X, another horror story about a Cicada takeover of the Northeast. Check it out.

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Filed under Contemporary Gothic Novels

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