This was one of the older books in my to-be-read queue. Had I realized what a quick, short read it was, I’m sure I would have gotten to it much sooner. With not even 100 pages, and much of that filled with art, the reading is extremely quick.
And that is sort of a problem.
I love short stories. But I don’t love short stories pretending to be novels, and it’s pretty rare for me to purchase a short story or even a novella as a single entity (rare…but I have done so). What almost works here is that this is essentially an easy-reader book, and those are typically much shorter. But …
The subject matter, for an easy-reader, is more than a little dark. It’s dark, it’s bleak, and there is NO positive aspect to the story. That is NOT an easy-reader.
**WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD!**
A young orphan boy goes to work in a notorious ghost prison … a dank, castle-like structure that harbors vile criminals and is haunted by a variety of ghosts and creatures. Despite his fears, the young boy is confident and generally unafraid, even when he begins working the night shift. One night, all the guards are sick and the boy must not only patrol alone, but he is tapped to feed a notoriously nasty creature. Another notorious creature, a ghost by the name of Long-Neck Netty (because of how her neck stretched when she was hanged), locks the boy in the cell with the vile creature, hoping the creature will feed on the boy. End chapter. The boy reminds us that he is narrating the story and that the event happened a long time ago. He still walks the castle, confident and mostly unafraid. He is now a ghost.
Yup…that’s it! Not exactly a cheery easy-reader, is it?
I like my horror stories, and AS a horror story, this is actually pretty well written (although there isn’t a whole lot of tension or suspense built in [which is another reason it doesn’t seem to be written for adults]). But I don’t get anything from it. I’m not moved, I’m not surprised, it doesn’t make me reflect, I…it…it just sort of leaves me there and all I can think is, “That’s some really nice art!”
The black and white line drawings by Scott M. Fischer are really beautiful. It was nice to have as much of this art as we did.
This was by no means a horrible book, but there isn’t a whole lot about it to recommend, other than the art, either.
Looking for a good book? If you know a YA or Easy Reader reader who likes dark stories, than this book would fit the bill, otherwise, the best reason to pick this up is to enjoy the fantastic art.
The Ghost Prison
author: Joseph Delany
artist: Scott M. Fischer
publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
hardcover, 98 pages