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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cyrus Review of The Haunting of Sam Cabot by Mark Edward Hall

A Cyrus Wraith Walker Review

5.0 out of 5 stars The Haunting of Sam Cabot, December 16, 2009
The Haunting of Sam Cabot
By Mark Edward Hall

Review by Cyrus Wraith Walker, Fiction Tips Weekly (Portland, OR USA)

What scares us is how close to the surface horror stories like The Haunting of Sam Cabot brings us, concerning things we choose not to allow in our cognitive awareness.

The realization of how we deal with, deny, ignore, and suppress fear, loss, death, or change, and how those things just might be the consequences of our own decisions or simply our feelings of guilt derived for taking responsibility for those things.

The fabric has always been about suppression, and Mark Edward Hall serves a good dish. You cannot serve in the armed forces and a war as Mark did without being spoon-fed tons of things that you are expected to suppress, ordered to suppress, and things that you cannot bear--even of your own fruition--to let to the surface because to do so would challenge ones sanity. We are a repressive/suppressive society. We are trained to do so from birth.

Is Cabot a ghost story, or a story of madness? Does the presence of ghosts or supernatural phenomena in one's life materialize because we cannot find a scientific explanation or a psychological explanation to use as evidence to continue wearing the false mask of reality we wear when suppressing truth? The answer is yes, just in case you didn't know, however, for those that are permanently gone there is no recognition only "REALITY" you know, but the reality we build is usually a tool to keep what we have repressed suppressed.

The Haunting of Sam Cabot makes us horribly aware that that is exactly what it is! Ghosts or spiritual phenomena then are as real as the psychological or scientific evidence we concoct along with our spiritual or other belief systems. Monsters do exist. Why, because, we must have evidence! We must suppress the truth! The truth will kill us, so we will become preachers, scientists, and psychologists, and we will attend Mass and counseling sessions, and get that diagnosis from the experts because we must not get to close to . . . the TRUTH!

General Story and Plot: 5 Stars

In an interview with yours truly Mark spoke of how stories such as I am Legend, as well as the works of Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and show like The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits, spoke to him, telling him more about the human condition than what society as a whole feeds us. The author does a fantastic job at bringing that to the surface.

Written in first person from the perspective of the protagonist, you get the sense that as Sam Cabot makes his slip into madness but oddly notices his madness. After wondering if the piece would be better written in a third-person omnipotent view the reader tricks his/herself into making judgments as to what information is sound and grounded in reality and what is not. This is how the author grabs us and makes us see our own denial of things that we repress. Even in the climax where things get very strange we make excuses about the narrative, about the author, about anything besides what we really fear. Therefore I give the 5 Stars for Story and plot.

Narration/Scene/Overall Length: 4 Stars

The major area I thought could be improved upon was the handling of various narratives, which I thought could be transpired into more dramatic scene work. This book has the potential to be even more gripping and of a greater, more satisfying length if the reader was made to experience certain sections as opposed to just being told through Sam's conscious stream. I would like to have seen some more of the nightmare sequences dramatized to subtle transition just like the first key nightmare sequence was. It may just be my own desire to have more Sam Cabot so I regretfully give this area only 3 ½ for desired improved upon length.

Placement within the Genre: 5 Stars

The book fits nicely into the psychological/supernatural form of the horror genre. It fulfills expectation when we realize that reality is not necessarily the truth but a fabrication to be used to keep what we have repressed in suppression. Because of this the story fulfills the purpose of the genre. The Haunting of Sam Cabot would make an excellent screenplay. 5 Stars for placement.

This book is intended for an audience of young adult and up. It is by far repugnant in any way but rightfully has a rating of three by the publisher Damnation Books for Sex and Violence.

Style: 5 Stars

Mark's colloquial informal style makes the story and the reader comfortable enough with the characters to identify intimately with them. He then uses this advantage as a tool to stir up doubts in the readers mind about a character causing a sense of distance or something not right. Like a movie director manipulating diegesis leading the viewer to infer things before hand, so does this technique appear in Marks style.

Quality: 4.7 Stars Accumulative
1. Coherence: 5 Stars
2. Clarity: 5 Stars
3. Originality: 4 ½
     Even though the story draws heavily on other stories such as The Shining and The Amityville Horror, it does so to develop our expectations in order to present a surprising twist. For this reason I still give 4 ½ Stars for originality.
4. Forcefulness: 5 Stars
5. Conciseness: 5 Stars
6. Fullness of Development: 4 Stars
      As stated earlier I felt that there could be more development in the way of expanding too much narrative into more exciting scenes.
7. Fluidity: 5 Stars
8. Does it suit the intended audience: 5 Stars
9. Quality of the printed version: 3 ½ Stars
     As the face of publishing has changed, it has been increasingly more difficult for publishers to make a profit. Certain things occasionally are done to try to keep the price of a title competitive. For that reason I give only 3 ½ Stars to the quality of the printed version. Even though the cover is very nice, the print itself suffers because the Kerning and Leading, spaces between letters and lines is a bit scrunched. While this definitely reduces the retail price of the book it makes it a bit cumbersome to read.

Personal Affect: 5 Stars

I have forever battled the ignorance we cling to in the name of repressing what's true. Stories such as The Haunting of Sam Cabot help that plight. Through the story’s insanity, sanity is confirmed. A realization takes place that we all tend to believe without question that our personal perspective is correct until we face ourselves with objectiveness only to find out we were dead wrong.

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