Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island is a new mystery- horror novel by Michael Phillip Cash. It is rare to find an intelligently written work of fiction these days. Although the haunting genre is popular and commonly depicted in horror and suspense novels, Cash's talent using the written word is what sets this book above and beyond the competition. One can say the market is saturated with books on hauntings and the paranormal- the idea of a haunted mansion and an ominous evil presence is nothing new- except for the fact that Cash delivers the story with an element of realism and authenticity. This conscientious writer pays attention to the fine details of writing, the sights, sounds and even odors of horror. There is no detail that gets past the eagle eye of this writer- where the written word becomes a form of art. There are literally no dry areas in this book- something is always happening. It has become commonplace for fiction writers to include dry filler to simply fill up pages and empty space. Michael Cash's novel is full of poignant description, drama or action from the first page to the last. He even has the talent to transform the seemingly ordinary after dinner or office work place scenes into scenes of complex psychoanalysis. The end result- a well written novel with a touch of believability, in the tradition of the classic horror writers. The chapters themselves are ordered by the days of the week over the span of seven days for a more dramatic effect in the tradition of the great haunting classics.
This hybrid genre combines the best of horror with mystery. Cash's novel will draw in a variety of readers as it integrates elements of suspense, horror, psychology and even history. There are enough authentic contemporary as well as historical details to make the geographic setting of the story believable for the reader. The three dimensional characters are very well developed. In fact the reader can get into the deep recess Paul, the main character's mind, as he succumbs to the living nightmare, doubting his own sanity. The reader can share in empathy with the grief of Paul after the loss of his wife. He and his children seem so vulnerable and lost, physically as well as spiritually. Their lack of religious belief is obvious as the Paul and his children grasp for answers and assurance in the midst of the supernatural nightmare they face in the aftermath of Allison's death. Overall the author does a thorough job as he delves into the depths of human emotions- resulting in a plausible scenario of how an average, otherwise sane individual would face such nightmarish circumstances and events. The reader gets the real sense of the insurmountable responsibilities shouldered by Paul in regards to his work, family and grief - on top of the nightmare he finds himself caught up in. He finds he must even take on the role of a detective to end the nightmare, to boot!
The physical presentation of the book does not do this story justice- and could be improved with some updating for greater visual appeal. The printing quality is not quite up to par with what you might find with the typical mass produced paperback novel, especially the binding and formatting details. A raised or embossed title on the cover would more effectively grab the readers' attention therefore more suitable for this vivid and powerful work of fiction. Overall, I do not see what would stop Michael Phillip Cash's horror masterpiece from becoming a bestseller. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published be Red Feather for the purpose of writing this review.