Bachelor's Grove Hauntings: A John Everson Book Review

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery sits approximately 25 miles outside of Chicago and saw its first official burials around 1840. Claims of hauntings peaked in the 1970s, where reported phenomena has included the white lady, who walks the grounds carrying an infant; a phantom farmhouse that disappears when approached; numerous figures in religious monk’s robes; a black dog; and the most notable transparent woman sitting atop a tombstone.

The story of Illinois’ most haunted cemetery is the backdrop for John Everson’s latest novel, The House by the Cemetery. The chapters take turns with the perspective of many characters, from carpenter Mike Kostner to paranormal investigator Jillie Melton. In this fictional version of events, the abandoned house on Bachelor’s Grove property is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a witch. When the property is rehabbed and turned into a haunted house attraction, events leading up to opening night and through the duration of October are both gruesome and eerie.

This book was written for true horror fans – the obscure film references, the haunted tales and ultimate blood bath are all essential pieces for getting the point across in the creepiest way possible. From the time the haunted house opens to the public to the very end of the book, the details go from gory to downright disturbing.

While the house itself is the metaphorical and literal foundation of the book, it’s the characters that hold this story together. Mike Kostner rebuilds more than just the house. Bong-Soon Mon gets more than an opportunity to work with his girlfriend Jeanie at a haunted house. Emery and Katie are much more than meets the eye. Jillie Melton warned everyone about what was going to happen if the house opened to the public.

Something the story could use is a bit of caution in both parts of the dialogue and parts of the storyline. There are moments in the story where incredibly detailed murders occur that the reader might not be prepared for or may not have the stomach to read. There are also the multiple instances of fat-shaming and the conversation of the treatment of women and people of color in horror films that are both insensitive and shameful. The incessant fat-shaming could have easily been removed and the conversation about depiction in horror films could have had a much greater outcome.

The House by the Cemetery had a great setting and overall storyline, but has areas of improvement to be considered anything more than the script of a B-grade horror movie.