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Saturday, August 20, 2011

From the Grave: The Prayer (William Castle)


Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a big fan of William Castle.  The man was a visionary that made horror films fun, entertaining, and more than just images on the screen.

Well, he's at it again- this time with a new book... the first book ever written by a ghost!

William Castle finds himself a ghost in the quiet tomb of Saint Sarah in France.  While learning to adjust to his new "life", he discovers that his fate is tied to the lives of four teens who are soon sent on a terrifying quest to uncover the the truth behind Castle's death... and keep those responsible from gaining the tool for taking over the world...

I have to admit, I was excited to read this book.  Seriously excited.  That last time I was THIS excited over a book was when I found a bunch of old "The Shadow" books at the book store I frequent.  And I was seriously geeking out at that time.

And as far as I'm concerned, that excitement was worth it.

The book, simply put is enjoyable.  I wish I could leave it at that, but since this a review, I'm obligated to justify my opinion.  So I will.

First off, the font is easy to read- which is a bonus since I tend to read without my glasses.  The prose itself is simple, yet has a flow to it that is easy on the ears and the thought process.  It's descriptive without being overly wordy.  I could almost imagine the voice of William Castle reading the story in my head, and think this book would be great as an audio book- especially if someone like Christopher Lee were to do the reading.  The tone is almost conversational- as if Castle was sitting there telling me what happened upon his return to this world.  The sentence structure and the general rythm of the story made it very easy to read without having to take several breaks to digest what you've read.  As soon as I opened the book, I pretty much didn't stop reading.

I also enjoyed the characters:  Mr. Castle, Aleck, Edgar, Sarah, and Luca were well crafted and consistant in their behaviour and personality.  I came to like and care about them- getting pulled into their story and wanting to see what came next.  Even the ghosts of Madame Chevalier and the lady Sermonde had depth to them, though still scary in their own right.  I have to wonder if the ghost of William Castle visits Sermonde in her quarry of crimson stone every now and then...

The story itself is geared towards young adults- as is the style, but I didn't find this a hinderence to my enjoyment of it.  The pacing was good, and varied according to the action taking place.  There is suspense, and eeriness aplenty- weaved through with the wit and humour that William Castle was well known for when he occupied a mortal body.  You start out thinking, the story is about one thing, then it evolves into something else without you really noticing at which point it does so... you're just simply enjoying the ride as only Mr. Castle can provide.  He even includes an "Audience Participatory Supplement" at the start in the form of an agreement that if you suffer from any nightmares, insomnia, or death... you won't sue him- with a line for you to sign on.  Seeing that made me smile.

Of course, even before I started reading the book, I knew that "From the Grave: The Prayer" would be a treasured part of my library because of the inscription in the front by Terry Castle- Mr. Castle's daughter:
"Dear Mike,
Thanks for your continued support of my father's work.  I understand this tale of terror is absolutely true!
Pleasant Dreams,
Terry Castle
In conclusion, I'm sitting here feeling satisfied with a good read- for young adults, or older fans of William Castle... and secure in the knowledge that "From the Grave: The Prayer" has rightfully earned its place in "The Good".

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