Sought out by ghosts at the Hotel St. Nicholas

Hotel St. Nicholas, Cripple Creek, Colorado

Since WordCrafter Press holds a paranormal short fiction contest each year, I’m always on the lookout for a good ghost story, and since this year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger, revolves around settings, haunted places have been of particular interest to me. According to paranormal investigator, Connor Randall, in his csindy.com inteview (May 12-18, 2021) with Heidi Beedle, “In terms of ghosts, liminal places are key,” he says. “A liminal place being a location that is in between… They’re places that are locations of transition…”, which “seem to attract more haunting energy.” Which is why hotels are common locations of ghost hunts. To my thinking, a hotel which was originally a hospital would be even more likely to be a liminal place.

Said to be one of the most haunted places in an old mining town that is reputed to have its fill of ghosts, my stay at the Hotel St. Nicholas, in Cripple Creek, Colorado featured a few occurances that may have been close encounters of the ghostly kind. There are rumors of hauntings all over Cripple Creek, but when I saw the 120 year old Victorian building perched on a hillside, I was convinced that ghosts roam its halls, just from looking at it. This is the kind of place where ghost stories are born. (You can read a full history of both Cripple Creek and the Hotel St. Nicholas on the Hotel St. Nicholas website.)

I’m not a professional ghost hunter, but I’ve had my share of ghostly encounters in my lifetime. I don’t have a bunch of fancy apps and special ghost finding equipment. Also, I didn’t want my experience to be influenced by the tales that went with the hotel, so I waited to do my research until after I had spent a night in Room 12.

The hotel itself has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere with many authentic Victorian furnishings throughout. I went there during the off-season, so there were only a handful of other guests and I was able to wander through the halls and peek into the unoccupied rooms, as each room is unique in this boutique B&B.

The building was originally a hospital run by The Catholic Sisters of Mercy, a group of nuns who offered medical care to the mining community, so many of the rooms have been converted to accomodate individual bed & bath. (There are actually two rooms that have private baths across the hall.)

On the lower level of this three story Inn, you’ll find The Boiler Room Tavern, which is open on weekends and sporadically during the week. The accompanying parlor area features a bar, a sitting area with table and chairs from the Victorian era, fireplace, piano and billiards table. I didn’t feel or smell or hear anything odd while enjoying this unique boutique atmosphere, but someone or something was helping me with billairds, because I kept winning.

The lights above the bar may have given of a few mysterious flickers that could easily have been written off as faulty wiring, but just looking up the back staircase, raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I later learned that this staircase area is where a ghost called “Stinky”, due to the raw sewage smell that accompanies his manifestation, is reported to be encountered the most. I believe that I met Stinky, although my room was on the third floor, and the back stairs only go to the second floor, as I smelled a rather rank smell several times throughout the night. (On a later date I stayed in Room 1, which is right at the top of the back stairway, on the second floor, but neither Stinky nor any other spirits came out to say, “Hello”, on that visit.) According to Legends of America, Stinky may also be seen as an old miner with no upper body, as well as the ghost of a small boy named Petey, who is often thought responsible for “stealing ciggarettes and moving objects about”. Good thing I quit smoking.

In addition to experiencing unexplainable olefactory encounters with Stinky, while lying in bed whispers were also heard outside the door of Room 12, accompanied by a feeling of shame, as if I’d been caught in a state of undress and told to cover myself, although the actual words could not be made out. When I later learned that the nuns occupied the third level of the building, with patient rooms on the lower floors, this experience seemed to make a lot more sense. In addition to its original use as a hospital, the building has been used as a boarding house or stood vacant until it was opened as the Hotel St. Nicholas.

Both of my visits to the Hotel St. Nicholas were enjoyable experiences, with or without the ghosts. But, keep in mind that I wasn’t really looking for ghosts when I decided to stay there, and I only connected any odd experiences to the ghosts reputed to haunt there after the fact, because I didn’t do any research until the following morning. Maybe that is why they made their presence known to me, because I had no expectations. It’s not surprising that I had no encounters on my second visit either, because my expectations had changed on that visit. I mean, think about it. If you were a ghost, would you want to appear on demand when ghost hunters show up with all their fancy apps and gadgets, like you were some sort of circus sideshow? I know I wouldn’t.

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“Clay House”: A Middle Grade Paranormal Horror Novel

Clay House

Sometimes evil dwells in the land itself, and it can burrow deep, laying dormant for a long time. But it always awakens eventually.

Moving to a new home is never easy, especially when you have to deal with a not so nice step-father, and the house is old and spooky. The town is quick to fill her in on the mysterious stories about her house, and when she finds a cemetary in her new back yard and her little brother Mark starts behaving oddly, Tatiana begins to get scared. The increasing cruelness of her step-father, leads her to uncover another kind of secret. Now all she has to do is figure out what to do with what she knows.

The bonus story, “Olney”, which is included with Clay House, is equally well-written with a similar theme, providing extra reader value for your book buck.

With two brave young heroines and two spine chilling ghosts, resulting in two well-crafted stories filled with twists and turns to keep readers guessing, I give Clay House five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Through the Nethergate”: A supernatural journey through time

NETHERGATE

Through the Nethergate, by Roberta Eaton Cheadle, is a captivating journey in the here and now that reaches through the barriers of time to bring legend to life, and it’s a very scary legend. This is a tale of horror, but not all spirits are evil, and many of Cheadle’s ghosts make up the cast of characters. Cheadle brings the characters in this story life masterfully, even the ghostly ones, whose backstories are woven into the legend’s tapestry to become part of the whole while still standing on their own individually.

When Margaret comes to live with her grandfather in a haunted old inn that has been in their family for centuries, she discovers that she has the uncanny ability to bring spirits back and make them more real and substantial. But, she doesn’t possess the ability to release them from the tethers that bind them to this plane. As she meets each of the inn’s ethereal occupants and learns their stories, she finds they are all held by an entity of local legend, Hugh Bigod, who prefers to appear in the form of a huge black demon dog. Hugh Bigod was a truly evil man and his spirit is just as nasty. When he feels the spirits pulling away from him, as Margaret’s presence breathes new substance into them, he blames her and vows to stop them by putting an end to her.

Through the Nethergate is a brilliant production of the stories within the story, and an excellent example of god vs. evil dark fantasy. Filled with plenty of suspense and clever story twists. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Writing for a YA Audience: Boo! There’s a ghost behind you.

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Ghost stories have always fascinated me.  I’m obsessed with history, so I see ghosts as a link to the past.  They’re our chance to communicate with those who came before.  Plus, the mystery surrounding ghosts is fascinating.

Ghost stories are prevalent in young adult fiction, as well as non-fiction.  Whenever I visit a new locale, I always check out books on local ghosts.  You can see I love ghosts, right?  They tend to drift into my writing more often than not.  My young adult novel, VICTORIAN, centers around ghosts in an abandoned village where visitors come to relive the past.  ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW features a ghost child trapped by a witch’s curse.  TREASURE DARKLY tells the story of Clark Treasure, a young man who receives the gift of communicating – and raising – the dead.

Oftentimes, I’m asked if I believe in ghosts.  That’s a big yes.  I’ve even experienced a few ghostly happenings.

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Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had people say my name, voices no one else hears.  It doesn’t happen all the time and the voices never answer if I reply.  I always turn to find no one behind me.  The earliest time I can remember was when I was driving by Lake Delta.  A voice came from beside me on the back seat.  “Jordan!”  No one was there and my parents hadn’t heard it.  More recently (a few years ago), I was working in a renovated woolen mill.  This building of weathered brick was infamous in the neighborhood for its hauntings.  I never saw or felt a presence, but twice a female called my name from directly behind me when I was alone in an office with a closed door – and the only other person in the building was a male custodian.

I was a recent high school graduate when one of my grandmother’s close friends passed away.  She and I were in her bedroom when the phone rang,  My dog – the only one else in the house – was also in the bedroom.  While my grandmother was learning about the passing from her friend’s daughter, a box of candy flew off the kitchen table and slid across the floor.  It had been on the center of the table and we hadn’t experienced an earthquake.  Nothing else in the house moved.  I like to think it was the friend’s way of saying goodbye.

The other ghostly goodbye came while I was at my then-boyfriend’s house.  I suddenly had an eerie feeling.  The world wasn’t quite right.  After a few minutes, I went to get a drink.  As soon as I walked into the other room, a female voice said my name directly behind me.  Almost instantly, the eerie feeling passed.  I learned the next day that my father’s aunt had died.  I’d only met her a few times, but perhaps she had done her rounds through the family to say farewell.

I’ve been on plenty of ghost tours, but only once did I catch an orb on film.  A local church is connected to a mansion with giant pillars, beautiful windows, and embellished rooms.  The mansion is breathtaking.  A friend hooked my parents and I up with an exclusive tour.  Many people have claimed to have experienced ghostly happenings, but we didn’t see or feel anything.  I did, however, catch a clear orb in a picture of the upstairs sitting room.  Ghost or dust?  I like to think it’s a ghost saying hello.

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Have you had any ghostly experiences?  If you have, share them with us below!

Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author.  She may or may not be staring at a supposedly haunted house trying to see faces in the windows. You can connect with Jordan – and point her in the direction of some paranormal activity – via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.


“Bait”: A YA Supernatural Romance Even Death Can’t Kill

Bait

Fans of werewolves, vampires, ghosts and ghouls alike will enjoy this tale of vampire and monster hunters. Bait is the first novel in author Kasi Blake’s Order of the Spirit Realm series, which promises to be full of surprises. Certainly, this first book was filled with them.

Nothing is as it seems, including Bay Lee’s life, which is all one big lie.  No one can know that she is a Van Helsing. Or is she? And she has a strange, unexplainable aversion to rock star Tyler Beck, even when he appears in her bedroom after his death. The rock star she thought she hated turns out to be the hunter that she loves. Whether he is Tyler Beck, or Nick Gallo, Bay Lee’s love for him overrides all, including her quest to become the best hunter ever to attend the Van Helsing school and avenge her parents’ deaths, and the prophecy that says that together they will cause the end of the world. Will Bay Lee be able to handle the truth when she learns she isn’t who she always thought she was?

This is an entertaining story that leaves room for to be carried on with the series. The only criticism I have is that there is a lot of head hopping, and abrupt scene changes, leaving the reader trying to figure out what’s happened. This is one of my pet peeves, so it really bothered me, especially when it occured in spots where I was really getting into the flow of story. For me, it was a real problem that detracted from my enjoyment of the tale.

The story itself is great, highly entertaining, but the unsuspected switches are distracting, pulling the reader out of the story each time. Overall, I can only give Bait three quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

 


“Weeping Willows”: A Ghostly Tale

weeping-willows

Weeping Willows by B.J. Robinson has the potential to be a good ghostly tale. Unfortunately, Robinson didn’t take it quite far enough. All the elements are there, but they just don’t come together very well.

The story fails to set a tone scary enough to cause any real anticipation. The House of Usher, it is not. The one spirit that actually shows herself, isn’t very threatening, is actually rather helpful, providing all the needed information about the house’s history, so the story may proceed, thus removing any sense of mystery the story might have been carrying.

The plot is classic haunted house to the point of almost being cliché. Two couples enter into a contest where the couple who lasts the longest in the old house, which threatens to crumble and fall into the sea, wins a honeymoon in Hawaii, but of course, the house is haunted and the spirits don’t seem happy about its latest guests.

The circumstances often seem a little too convenient, as if the events occur at the convenience of the author, to get the story out. It feels like the characters do what is necessary for the story to unfold, but perhaps not what would be natural for their personalities, but that could be because the characters lack depth. Character development is always a challenge when writing short fiction due to the short amount of page space, but without it, it’s difficult to care about the characters.

Weeping Willows is a ghost story of fair quality. I give it three quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Victorian”: A Ghostly Story Packed Full of Secrets

Victorian

Victorian, by Jordan Elizabeth, is a truly unique YA story featuring not one, but two young girls, Celeste and Weronica, who each have a dark secret hidden in the past that keeps them closed off to others. When they both get jobs at a historical fair in a strange old village which harbors secrets of its own, things turn interesting, as each one learns to trust again with the help of the fair’s colorful cast of characters and the ghosts of the past.

Elizabeth’s characters are realistic and believable. Weronica acts as if she’s self assured, but worries more about what others think of her than she lets on. She shares only enough to keep curiosity at bay, keeping her ghosts close and the secrets they hold even closer. Celeste really just wants to belong, but fear that her secret will be revealed causes her to hold others at bay. Her ghosts are really those of the historic village, but they hold the key to unlocking her secrets, as well as unraveling the mysterious past of the village.

This well-crafted story builds just the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning, as it alternates between the two co-protagonist’s points of view. The story line is easy to follow, the village setting becoming a character in and of itself. Victorian is well worth the read.

I give Victorian four quills.                 Four Quills3