“And I found that there were others like me, others who persisted in this half-life. Others who had failed properly to depart.”
When Jack enters the old, dark house, he isn’t sure what he’ll find in these mysterious rooms, this long hallway with a sliver of candlelight beneath just one cold door. Jack is more curious than sensible, though, and allows himself into the meeting of twelve, each surrounding a table, each facing a candle. Each will tell a story, and in time, Jack must tell a tale of his own, too.
This book is a collection of short ghost stories, which isn’t anything particularly unique in and of itself; however, the vehicle that Dave Shelton uses to deliver these ghost stories is what made me enjoy Thirteen Chairs so much. A young boy named Jack finds himself surrounded by strange adults; some kind, some cold, but each has a story to tell him, one by one. Some of the stories are simply dark and gothic in nature, while others are actually fairly haunting. I wouldn’t call any of the stories scary, but as a lifelong horror fan, my views on horror may be a little bit different from someone else’s, so I won’t say that these stories are downright incapable of frightening another reader.
Regardless of the lack of a substantial fear factor, I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery that Dave’s writing presented, and I loved how each of the twelve people at the table was a distinct character; they weren’t just props for the stories, but actually seemed to match each of their stories. I also loved the snippets between stories where we got to dive into Jack’s thoughts a little bit, and sense his gradually increasing unease with his surroundings. Of course, the ending felt predictable to me, but I still liked how the writing slowly built up to the “big reveal”.
All in all, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror anthologies and ghost stories, but isn’t looking for anything to keep them up all night.