Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-61922-911-2
Convalescence is a ghost story set in 1965, when 14-year old James Bentley is sent to his uncle’s home at the Devon/Dorset border for a few weeks of – yes, yes – convalescence. Poor James is all alone after tuberculosis claimed his parents and sister, and the disease left him all sapped out. Uncle Thomas is a very distant relative, and James has never met him in person before. The man stays in a big creepy mansion and, naturally, there are places that James should not wander into. Yes, he sneaks into those places after a while. His uncle and the housekeeper can be warm at times, but James feels that there is something just not right about the place. Things become interesting when he bumps into a boy who may just be a ghost. As you can imagine, Uncle Thomas has his secrets, and the haunting of that place has to do with those secrets.
This is a slow-moving story, but the author has an engaging narrative voice and the atmosphere is terrific. I feel like I’m in that creepy big house myself often just from reading this story. However, this is also a story that holds little surprise. The uncle’s secret is easily guessable, and the denouement is a bit of an anticlimax as I can see it coming from a mile away.
At the end of this day, this is a well-written story that is, however, too predictable for its own good.