5 out of 5
Book by Kiefer Lane
A chilling psychological ghost story that explores the darker side of human nature.
Madelyn Pulaski lives in a haunted house… or does she? Despite Madelyn’s ghostly encounters, therapist Dr. Judy Haig isn’t convinced her patient is experiencing supernatural activity, but psychotic depression. Working together week-to-week through therapy sessions, Judy delves into Madelyn’s past and hopes to unravel the truth. Ghost? Hallucination? Or madness? Something is definitely haunting Madelyn… and it refuses to leave.
One of the scariest elements of a horror novel is fear of the unknown and our inability to understand it. Low Spirits is a little different in that it focuses on the human psyche and the monsters within us. It explores this concept by delving into the mental, emotional, and psychological states of the characters. True to the genre, both Madelyn and Judy are troubled, unstable, and unreliable. Madelyn’s disturbed psychological state challenges and even confuses the reader’s grasp of the narrative. We doubt the story told because of Madelyn’s distorted perception. Is she really haunted? Or is this the work of her descent into madness? The doubtful perception sets an ominous atmosphere throughout the entire novel.
Information and clues are often revealed through the eyes of different characters in the one scene, and while head hopping is often frowned upon in narrative writing, in this instance it works to create a jarring effect. Multiple, unreliable perspectives make us question the characters, their motivations, and the darker side of their natures.
The real horror in this story is not the ghost, but the psychological fears that empower the ghost. If you enjoyed reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House or Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, Kiefer Lane’s Low Spirits is one to add to your TBR list.