Paranormal fans, I know what you’re thinking: Here we go, another ghost story.
As someone not obsessed with the genre, I couldn’t put down Michael Phillip Cash’s Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island (Red Feather Publishing). Upon realizing the book is only 161 pages, one might wonder how quickly and deeply the author can advance his story. Stop wondering – this one packs a wallop.
We are introduced to Paul Russo, trying to get his life back together after the death of his wife. He struggles with the demands of three young children and needs to turn attention back to them after devoting all his time to his wife, who loses a painful battle with cancer.
Paul also has to return to his job as a Long Island real estate broker, which is hanging by a thread due to his neglect while tending to his wife. He has a chance to rebound quickly and save his career when he is handed the listing for a multimillion-dollar mansion, Stillwell, which was owned by the Andrews family, parents of one of Paul’s old friends. The house is for sale because the husband murdered his wife and then killed himself.
Signs come early and often that something is amiss. It starts with Paul’s daughter Stella, who insists the ghost of her mother is around the house. As Paul tries to reassure her it’s just her imagination, Stella persists, “No Daddy, she’s here. I heard her.” After Paul leaves the room, Stella whispers, “You can come out now, Mommy. He left.”
Later, driving to work, he hears strange static while trying to tune into his favorite radio station. Through the static, he hears the words, “She’s mine, she’s mine, she’s mine…”
Then there’s the Stillwell house itself. Paul goes to inspect the house for the first time, assured that a cleaning service has removed the signs of the murder. However, as he wanders from room to room and eventually approaches the bedroom, he cries, “Oh my God!” The author writes, “Bile rose to burn his throat when he saw the carnage inside. Guts and gore splattered the room. Streaks of blood and holes from the shotgun pellets peppered the white walls. Bits of brain and decaying flesh decomposed on the floor.”
Later, upon further inspection with a colleague, the house indeed is clean and there are no signs of what Paul experienced the first time. Events like these make Paul question what he is seeing and feeling, and whether he might be going insane.
The secret to what Paul may or may not be seeing or experiencing lies within the notable history of the Stillwell property, going back hundreds of years to the time of the American Revolution. In researching the history, Paul stumbles upon an old picture of the original owner’s daughter Hannah, who bears a striking resemblance to Paul’s dead wife. What can that possibly mean? What’s the connection? Does this revelation help explain the weirdness Paul is dealing with?
What makes Stillwell so compelling is Cash’s ability to capture the everyday mood and feelings of a man trying as hard as he can to return his life to normalcy. Whether it’s making breakfast and sending his kids off to school, setting up dance lessons for his two girls, pickups, drop-offs, meetings with teachers – it’s Paul’s quest – and challenge — for a fairly typical existence that makes the introduction of the paranormal so convincing.
Publisher’s Weekly says it well: “Cash makes the pain of a man who lost the love of his life palpable in this supernatural thriller with a genuinely surprising resolution.”
Stillwell is a quick and captivating read for fans of the paranormal genre, or for non-fans that want a page-turning taste of it. Pick it up – and keep a lot of lights on.
Stillwell is now available for purchase.
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ABOUT MICHAEL PHILLIP CASH:
Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novels are bestsellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. Stillwell is his second novel. Visit www.michaelphillipcash.com.