Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The Following" by P.D. Cacek

Cacek's ghost story is one of my favourite types of ghost story, because it's really more about the lives of the people involved in the story than about murderous ghosts and cheap scares. The story is a slow, psychological examination of its main character, Lydia Terrell, who has the special ability to capture souls. Essentially, she's a ghost exterminator. But this isn't an episode of Supernatural*, or a similar ghost adventure/horror stories that happen to involve ghosts. It's more about how Lydia copes with her powers and their terrible after-effects.

I think this is really what the best ghost-stories, or stories in general, for that matter, do. They help the reader learn about the characters involved in the story. You get to know them, to identify them; watch them change and grow. So many stories of this genre are wrapped up in interesting conceits or scary sequences that they lose this idea that a story should really be about the characters. It's refreshing to see that Cacek doesn't fall into this trap.

*As a side note, I'm not disparaging Supernatural here. I love its comic-book take on horror and ghost stories. Plus, I think it ofter does just what I'm talking about here, revealing complex stories and characters beneath the top layer of action and gore.

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