Reviewed by Elaine Lamkin
Written by Mark Edward Hall
Published by Damnation Books
For a novella, The Haunting of Sam Cabot packs quite a few scares. I started this book with some hesitation, given its length … or lack of. And I would argue that the title should be The Possession of Sam Cabot, but I was impressed. Sam Cabot, a writer, and his family – wife, Linda and 6-year-old son, Sean – have finally found what they think is the house of their dreams in the small town of Davenport, Maine. The Farnham House, once an inn, and now owned by the sinister (or is he?) Francis Carlisle, has everything they need … and even more things they will soon discover they don’t. At ALL!!
A sinister heating system (sounds goofy, I know, but remember the boiler in The Shining), the backyard well (why are wells so damn creepy? The Ring, The Changeling, The Other – creepy wells in all of them), an old Halloween mask; and you have a story that will give you goosebumps. What IS in that well? Who IS Mr. Carlisle? What IS happening to Sam and his family? And most of all, what IS the history of Farnham House that so upsets the neighbors? This last is where I felt the book could have been better or at least longer.
Taking his son trick or treating, Sam meets one of his neighbors, Mrs. Miller, who is none too thrilled to meet Sam. She hints at the Carlisle family being cursed and that whatever has cursed the Carlisles has poisoned Sam and his family. I would have LOVED to have had more back story on the Farnham/Carlisle House. Perhaps author Mark Edward Hall is gearing up for a much more in-depth tale of this town and the people (and legends) within it. Much like a short film can lead to a feature film, this novella could definitely be a much more detailed account of what has gone on in this town for, apparently, decades.
Still, it IS creepy and that small-town Maine setting (which, of course, IS Stephen King country so it can’t NOT be creepy and fun fact: Mark Edward Hall attended school in Durham, Maine with Stephen King although King was a year ahead of him) and the old haunted house together with other spoooky goings-on make The Haunting of Sam Cabot a book I would seek out for a cold, rainy October evening.
3 1/2 out of 5
Discuss The Haunting of Sam Cabot in our forums!