This is a continuation of a week-long review series featuring Kindle short stories from authors from reddit’s /r/selfpublish. Check back throughout the week for more reviews.
In my request for Kindle short stories to review, Dennis Liggio pointed me in the direction of his “The Last Ghost,” a horror story narrated by a man setting his mother’s estate to order. This is a tale that slowly builds with each paragraph, intent on creating a chilling atmosphere
Since, as the title might suggest, “The Last Ghost” is a ghost story, the narrative adopts a Victorian tone to emulate the golden age of ghost stories. This voice is well-executed for the most part and helps immerse the reader into the narrator’s tale. There were some evocative descriptions, such as the narrator describing “my mother, but not as a young girl, but older, in the winter of her middle age” and “in that sound I saw rot, not the fetid diseased rot of plague, but the dry, gnawing rot of inevitable decay, the dust of a million men reduced to nothing.”
While there were multiple ghosts introduced throughout the course of the story, Liggio did well balancing their presence with one another so it did not feel like one was overly dominating or, conversely, was not described enough. The narrator’s terror grows with the appearance of each new ghost, and the tension builds as the horror elements continue to slowly creep in. The ticking of the clock, “I’m sorry,” the drip of blood: all of it ties together into an intense atmosphere.
The ending is where “The Last Ghost” struggles. As I found myself drawn into the atmosphere Liggio built in the home, I wanted to know what the ghosts meant by their silent reproach, their counting, and their pointing. And Liggio delivers, spelling out exactly what each ghost’s actions and words signify. But though this ending answers all of the reader’s questions, it is unsatisfying. The true power of horror is what is left up to the imagination, and Liggio leaves little questions unanswered, thus stripping away the terrors the reader might have imagined. Finally, some additional editing might have served the story well to eliminate a few redundancies and tighten up the writing, but overall, the story seemed to have been well-edited and I only found one typographical error.
Though the ending falls a little flat, “The Last Ghost” is still an enjoyable read, and one that I would recommend.
Final verdict: ✮✮✮✮✰