Ash and Bone by Lisa Von Biela is a spooky little tale published by Darkfuse. This novella starts nicely, with Eileen Maroni escaping her criminal past and looking to start life anew. With money that she hid away after a drug deal went bad, she finds herself in a rundown coastal town where she impulsively purchases a small motel. There is a problem with room #8, however. She feels uneasy when cleaning the room, guests have strange experiences, and her dog is so terrified that it will not step foot into the room. So far, so good. The author has set the stage for a nifty ghost story. Unfortunately, the last portion of the tale does not deliver as well. The author shifts perspectives to a second, and then briefly a third, character who are not as interesting or fleshed out as Eileen. While the reader learns about room #8, there is no drama in the tale, and I did not feel an emotional connection to the characters as they learned the backstory. I also felt the author was padding what could have been tight short story in order to make it a novella. For instance, there are numerous trips to and from a diner, complete with multiple descriptions of the same greasy laminated menu and the attitude of the waitresses. The result was a watering down of the story. Overall, an okay ghost story and a quick read.
Anthony Hains is a horror & speculative fiction writer.