My rating: 5 of 5 stars
John F.D. Taff once again weaves a delicate, complex tapestry of words that unfolds into a glorious work of art, in a style that is uniquely and unmistakably his own brand of storytelling.
The original legend of The Bell Witch is a true American horror story, and rather than tell you about it here, I advise the reader to source other books if they wish to research the historical documented case, something which John Taff himself did before fictionalising the event in this remarkable book.
The story that John Taff regales us with here is not actually a ghost story, as the entity, the Witch herself, states that she has never lived or died, and therefore can not be considered to be a ghost.
Although the Witch exhibits behavioural patterns akin to those of a poltergeist, it soon becomes clear that there is a much deeper purpose behind her violence towards Jack Bell and his daughter, Betsy, though other members of the Bell family suffer to a much lesser extent at the hands of the sometimes vengeful, sometimes playful entity.
Rather than the book just being about the Bell family and the effects that the Witch has on the Bells, the Witch is brought into the heart of the book as a major character that interacts with members of the local community, holding conversations with them and singing in church, and such. The dialogue throughout is masterfully written, and totally believable.
I offer no spoilers here at all. The Bell Witch is a story with a very dark theme indeed; it is a mystery that is unfolded to great satisfaction as the story progresses, it is sprinkled with well-timed elements of humour, and the consequences of the Witch’s insertion into the life of the Bell family changes the lives of all who come into contact with her.
Once again, John F.D. Taff shows us that he is a true master of his craft, and I cannot recommend this book enough.