#5 – A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb
If always felt that ghost stories are underappreciated in the horror genre – not necessarily under represented, but not celebrated the way that they should be. Readers can find ghosts cliché, but what monster holds more meaning than the living memory of what we used to be?
A Certain Slant of Light takes a new approach to the ghost story. You won’t find tormented souls or demented poltergeists between these pages. The story that Laura Whitcomb has to tell is much more human; Helen just wants to exist, and finds being a ghost only the smallest of setbacks. Whitcomb has entirely rewritten what it might be like to be dead, writing new definitions for words like ‘haunt’ and ‘possession.’ Helen is more of a muse to the man she haunts, helping him to write the novel he has dedicated his life to. When she finally decides it is time to take possession of a body, to have physical form again, it is not because she wants to reclaim the life she lost, but instead because she is eager to start a new life. Our ghost falls in love with the first person to see her in 130 years – a person who is, in fact, a ghost who has learned the trick to possessing humans. The story that ensues is heartbreaking in its clarity and honesty, as we delve not only into the lives of the two ghosts, but into the lives of the bodies that they’ve claimed as their own. Helen and James do battle not only against the demons that live inside soulless human shells, but against Helen’s body’s psychologically and religiously abusive mother, and James’ body’s physically abusive father, as they learn that being alive again might be more horrifying than death.
I wouldn’t quite call a Certain Slant of Light a horror story, but since this is a list of monster stories, I think that this beautiful and unique retelling of a classic tale more than deserves its spot.