The Invention of Ghosts by Gwendolyn Kiste
"From the Nightscape Press Charitable Chapbooks line. One third of all sales of this chapbook will go to support the National Aviary.
It starts with rapping in the ceiling and spirit boards that know them a little too well.
Everly and her best friend aren’t your typical college students. Instead of raucous Saturday night parties, they spend their weekends conjuring up things from the beyond. Ectoplasm, levitation, death photography---you name it, and Everly knows all about it. But while this obsession with the supernatural is only supposed to be in good fun, the girls soon discover themselves drifting deeper into magic and further from each other. Then when one evening ends with an inadvertently broken promise, everything they’ve ever known is shattered in an instant, sending them spiraling into a surreal haunting. Now Everly must learn how to control the spectral forces she’s unleashed if she wants any chance of escaping a ghost more dangerous than all the witchcraft she can summon.
A tale of the occult, unlikely phantoms, and complicated friendships, The Invention of Ghosts is the latest strange vision from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens."
I loved this so much I read it in one sitting and then immediately read it again.
The Invention of Ghosts is one of a series of charitable limited edition chapbooks available from Nightscape Press. However for those of you like me who live of the other side of the Atlantic these books will be made available as e-books once the paperbacks have sold out.
I was so thrilled to be given a chance to read this. Gwendolyn Kiste is one of my favourite authors who defies genre, one of those rare writers who turns horror into something both scary and sublime at the same time. Many people describe her work as strange and beautiful and this story is no exception.
This is a tale about two friends who share their whole life. They grew up together and now they are both studying at the same university, even sharing the same room. Locking themselves in away from the crowds they indulge themselves in the secrets of the occult. It's not long until they are able to perform tricks by tapping into the supernatural forces around them.
These are girls with strange powers, rejected long ago from the outside world they break away. In this state they are happy, for a time.
I was hooked by the first paragraph alone when Everly, one of the two young women, is asked by her best friend what sort of witch does she want to be?
These two girls have grown up with magic, casting it around them in protection. They've forged a strange friendship so intense and claustrophobic that its hard to remember their lives away from one another.
The Invention of Ghosts has a really unusual narrative which works really well pulling you into the story and making you feel a part of it.
The story builds into a really dramatic ending, what starts of a sweet story of friendship soon takes you into a choke-hold of horror. The story touches on many themes of friendship, loss, loneliness, being haunted by your past. This is unlike any witch story you have ever read.
(I love stories featuring witches, if you do, you must check out HexLife: Wicked New Tales of Witchery, it's amazing.)
One concept from the Invention of Ghosts that I found really interesting was that each of us have many different lifetimes within our life. We constantly change from one person to the next. Throughout our journey we don't stay the same, experiences and people forge us into different people.
I loved the ending which I can't really go into without giving out spoilers other than say it was amazing!
On a side note, there's also some amazing reading recommendations dropped throughout the tale for those interested in the occult and mysteries of life.