Glenn Rolfe “Chasing Ghosts” Review

Posted: August 16, 2016 in Reviews, Uncategorized
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Chasing Ghosts cover

BOOK INFO

Length: 102 Pages

Publisher: Sinister Grin Press

Release Date: August 1, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for Chasing Ghosts

Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I am a huge fan of Glenn’s books. I have been following his work ever since his debut The Haunted Halls and it seems like he just keeps getting better with each book. So when Chasing Ghosts was announced, it instantly shot to the top of my list of most anticipated books. As soon as you crack the cover on Chasing Ghosts, you will notice the novella is dedicated his to Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene and Jonathan Janz. If you are a fan of any or all of those writers, this should give you a good idea of what to expect and it definitely captures the spirit of those writers.

“Rumors were usually born from some kind of truth”

The novella opens introducing readers to Jesse Gerrard, a bit of a rebel who occasionally gets into trouble with his friends who dare each other to do crazy stunts like blowing up M80’s at school. Jesse knows his father is cheating on his mother and it is weighing heavily on his mind. Trying to flee his tense situation at home, Jesse grabs his coat and storms out of the house to meet up with his buddies Davey and Luke at the old Cobb place. While his dad attempts to stop him and talk to him about the incident with the M80’s, he tells his dad he is “chasing ghosts” and then he is gone. Those are the last words he will ever say to his father.

When they get to the Cobb house, it doesn’t take long for the dares to begin and each one trying to prove their toughness. Davey dares Jesse to pick up a rotting rabbit carcass, which he does with no problem. The smell is stomach churning, but Jesse’s ego won’t let him look like a chicken in front of the new kid. However, Jesse takes it a step further and chucks it through a window into the now abandoned home. Glenn builds great tension by slowly incorporating the legends that swirl around the Cobb house, like that Zachariah ate his own baby and their reputation as a group of redneck cannibals.

Luke instantly is filled with fear and is trying to convince Davey and Jesse to run, but while they are bickering and before they can move a muscle, they hear an ominous grinding noise coming from inside the Cobb House. Jesse thought they were out there all alone, but that sound indicates otherwise. They duck for cover, but once again, Jesse’s desire to prove his toughness leads him to go right up to the house. Even though his friends are scared, all he can think of is showing off and he climbs inside the house! I know I am a horror fan, but if I am being honest, I am a scaredy-cat in real life. There is no way in HELL I would be going inside that place if I was Jesse!

It doesn’t take much longer for all hell to break loose. I won’t get into what happens, but I was reading this and my jaw dropped because it is so early in the story and Glenn just goes straight for the jugular. It is right around this moment I knew Chasing Ghosts was going to be one hell of a ride!

Following that opening, we are left to ponder the fate of the group of friends in the woods and the story shifts its focus to another group of characters. Jack, Ian, and Connor are members of the punk band The New 45 and they are on their way out to a gig at a secluded cabin in the woods where a wild party is taking place. While they complain about having to play in the middle of nowhere, they are planning to have a great show and have fun partying until all hours of the night.

After meeting the band we are introduced to Jesse’s parents Derek and Heather, who are dealing with the fallout over their son’s disappearance. Heather found out about Derek’s girlfriend Melody and the stress of the affair and their son’s disappearance has left the couple’s marriage in shambles. Derek is beaten down by the emotional toll of losing his son and while his wife holds out hope he is still alive, he knows that he is gone. After their fight, Derek goes out on his bike and finds himself rocketing toward Cobb Road. He remembered his son liked to come out here and cause Zachariah trouble. As he is traveling down the road, he sees a strange person crossing the road and a frightening encounter ultimately leads him to the cabin where the band is playing.

When the band’s lead singer goes missing, Derek can’t help but think if the strange person he saw out on the road. He joins Connor and Ian as they search for their friend and they will find themselves battered, bloody, and doing whatever they can to survive the hell they have found themselves in.

One of my favorite scenes in Chasing Ghosts is when Derek’s best friend Mike fills Melody in on the wild history of the Cobb’s and the woods they called home. Now, I don’t know how other readers will feel about it, but I loved that Rolfe gradually explained the legends surrounding the woods. By giving out a little bit of the history at a time, it helps amplify the mystery that haunts the pages of this story. Mike’s retelling gives readers a more complete history of the Cobb’s and sets a very creepy atmosphere for the back half of the novella. The way Mike tells the story with perfect pacing, it feels like the sort of campfire ghost story that has you ready to leap out of your skin at the smallest noise.

Glenn’s characterization is truly exceptional in Chasing Ghosts. Glenn manages to introduce a variety of interesting characters and none of them feel like they get lost and the action never lags, even as we jump from different characters view points. Even the minor characters pop off the page, like the scraggly hipster that first greats the band at the cabin. The depiction of Jesse and his friends relationship is perfect and kind of reminded me of the kids in Stranger Things. They get each other to do stupid dares like screwing around at the Cobb Place and blowing up M80’s at school. They have no problem teasing each other, but you get the sense that their friendship is incredibly strong and that they would do anything for each other. Out of all of those characters though, Luke was definitely my favorite. He is one of the youngest characters in the book and is subjected to horrors that would break most anyone regardless of age. Despite all of the stuff he endures throughout the novella, he never gives up and fights for his life every step of the way.

I also loved the way Glenn portrays the killer that attacks the band and Derek out in the woods. He is over six feet tall and a physically imposing figure. Connor tries to attack him, but when he hits him full speed, he does little more than make the guy stumble. The group’s run-in with this guy made me think of classic movies like Friday the 13th, where even the strongest character couldn’t even phase Jason with their best effort. Connor, Ian, and Derek try to take him on and inflict an extreme amount of punishment, but it hardly phases him and still kicks their asses. This fight scene was one of my favorite moments of the book, unrelenting action that is pumping with adrenaline. There are other aspects about the Cobb family that I thought were extremely well done, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book yet. Trust me though, you won’t be disappointed! More than once I got chills while I was reading this.

Honestly, Chasing Ghosts is one of the scariest books I have read in a while and it may just be Glenn’s darkest work yet. Once you get to the back half of the novella, it is pretty much a barrage of action and extremely bleak situations. I mean lines like this: “I could see his brains on the leaves. I could see his brains on the leaves” are devastatingly effective and only scratch the surface of the blood-soaked brutality that plays out in the woods surrounding the infamous Cobb property. There is also one scene with one of the characters in the woods towards the end of the book that honestly made me wince because I could only imagine the pain that character was experiencing.

I remember reading a blog post about this one and Glenn mentioned how he wanted to capture the tone of the Leisure Books that he was a huge fan of and I feel he does that in spades. Chasing Ghosts has the feel of a vintage horror novel that is chock full of blood, guts, and pulse-pounding action. I love all of Glenn’s different types of stories, but it was awesome to see him go back the extreme horror that was on display in his debut. This was a blast to read and as a horror fan, Chasing Ghosts has everything I could want in a great horror story. I grew up around the woods and while it can be a peaceful place during the day, as a young kid who loved horror movies, the setting was terrifying at night. Rolfe definitely taps into that fear with Chasing Ghosts, which is definitely my favorite novella of the year. I highly recommend grabbing a copy and I can’t wait to see what Glenn comes up with next!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Sinister Grin Press’ Official Website

Purchase Chasing Ghosts: Amazon, Barnes & NobleSinister Grin Press, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

Chasing Ghosts tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Chasing Ghosts! – #ChasingGhosts #Rolfed #WoodsPeople

Chasing Ghosts Synopsis

The Cobbs were ignorant woods-people that died off and left nothing to fear. Locals in Naples, Maine think they know this story. But are they wrong?

Luke Howard and his mom move to Naples and Luke’s eager to make new friends. When Jason and Davey invite him out to the abandoned Cobb place for a game they call “chasing ghosts,” he’s ready and willing. However, the boys will come to discover that some vacant houses are better left to die alone.

Meanwhile, a punk band set to play in a rented cabin out of town feel eyes upon them. Somebody’s watching, but not their usual audience. When their lead singer strays too far from the group and disappears, his band mates set out in the darkness to find him.

Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there’s more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined.

Chasing ghosts is more than just some children’s game.

Praise for Glenn Rolfe

Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I’ve encountered in recent years.” — Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh

“Glenn Rolfe’s new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die).” — Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage

 “Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I’ve read about in recent times.” — Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid

“Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well.” — Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel

“There is a definite old school feel about this novella (Things We Fear). It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax.” – Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror

Glenn Rolfe Biography

Glenn Rolfe author photo

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s BridgeBoom TownThings We Fear, and the forthcoming, Chasing Ghosts; the short fiction collection, Slush; and the novels, The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain.

His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, was released in March 2016.

Media? Wish to Feature?

If you are a member of the media or a blogger that wishes to review Chasing Ghosts or feature Glenn Rolfe, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicity and marketing, Sinister Grin Press, at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.

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