Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island, by Michael Phillip Cash

Four stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Michael Phillip Cash, Chelshire Inc., and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

Cash provides readers with a wonderful novella, full of chills and action, while keeping the spirit phenomena from becoming too corny. Paul Russo is forced to pick up the pieces from his shattered life after his wife’s death. With three children and piles of debt, Paul can no longer hide from the world and must find a way towards normalcy. When his youngest begins talking about seeing her mother’s ghost, Paul downplays this as a grieving mechanism. Once an esteemed real estate agent, Paul is forced back into the competitive world, searching for a sale to boost his confidence and economic prospects. An estate he frequented in his youth enters the market and Paul is asked to represent the buyers. With a horrific story tied to the recent owners, Paul must try to get it sold without letting this haunt any potential buyers. As Paul learns more about the house’s history, he also discovers that there are eerie stories within its walls and a spirit lurking, one with ties to his wife’s family. As Paul is haunted by his wife’s spirit in his dreams and sees her struggle with a demon, he must forge ahead and save her, along with the house’s original spirit, or face a lifetime of struggles. All this, while trying to put on a brave face for his children and ensure them that their mother is in a better place. Cash hits the mark with this novella, captivating the reader from the opening pages and not letting go.

When I read the premise of this novella, I was not sure if it would have an eerie nature to it, or be something as corny as floating ghosts and rattling chains. Cash invests much time into fleshing out his characters and provides a strong narrative, as well as a plot that pushes the story forward without making it seem silly. His historical sub-plot is woven nicely into the tale and keeps the momentum as the reader tries to learn a little more about Paul, his wife, and the Revolutionary War spirits haunting this estate. Use of the spirit in Paul’s dreams juxtaposes nicely with his need to let her memory rest in peace. Barring a few typographical errors, the novella presents almost flawlessly and keeps the reader attuned to all that his going on, without delving into anything too outlandish or silly. It has piqued my interest to find more of Cash’s work to compare this.

Kudos, Mr. Cash for a great piece and I hope you keep writing with this high-calibre style for years to come.