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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
The Haunted is a story that unfolds in unpredictable ways. From the prologue that puts us on the path of unease and unsettlement, to the ending with its volatile twists and turns, this book delivers!

You are drawn along with this newly developing family as they start the adventure of moving into a home of their very own, only to discover that the house has more to it than a simple mortgage...

Collings does a masterful job of building the aura of The Haunted thru small and simple seeming ways, but then quickly gains momentum as the story progresses and you start to realize what sort of haunting you are in for!

After having seen and read different thrillers and horrors over the years, I have found that it is harder and harder for the stories to surprise me. This book did surprise me! I was lead down a path of startling images, twists and turns, until by the end of the book I found myself seeing and hearing an ending that I never thought of! It was a joy to see how close I could come to figuring it out and then having Collings throw me a curve!

Surprising, startling, and truly haunting!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
The Haunted by Michaelbrent Collings is the creepiest book I've read in years. The writing is excellent and this short novel (273 pages, $4.99 eBook, $9.99 paperback) builds, and builds to a truly terrifying climax that takes up the last 170 pages. Pregnant Sarah and her husband, Cap move in to a remote old house surrounded by a sinister forest, and the haunting begins. Little things go on at first and the quiet opening made me wonder if this was going to be like the other haunted house books that I've read in the past. It definitely was not, as the ghosts in this novel don't just make noises in the night, and hide in basements. They come after the main characters with knives that cut flesh. They are in your face and terrifying.

Cap and poor Sarah worry for their immortal souls and their unborn baby as a whole pack of murderous ghosts start a prolonged attack that takes up more than half the book. These are the most vicious ghosts I've ever read about, and Collings is a great writer who knows how to evoke a mood and pull you into the tight prose, that drips blood and terror.

If you've read a lot of haunted house books, this one may not seem to be much different at first, aside from the fantastic writing, but there is a twist at the end that most readers will not see coming--I admit that I didn't--though I had suspicions whispering in the back of my mind. The ending really left me shivering and I love how well the twist was set up all through the book.

As a writer and editor myself, I really loved how Collings crafted his scenes, as the prose really punched me in the face, and made me cringe.

If you're looking for a good scare and want a great read, The Haunted is an excellent book for you. I finally understand why Michaelbrent Collings has such a great reputation for being a really good writer, and he's earned a lifelong fan. I will for sure be reading his other novels.

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon series
Editor of the Crimson Pact anthology series
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
Not since reading Dean R. Kooontz's aptly named INTENSITY have I encountered such a compression of terror as Michaelbrent offers unwary readers in this novel. Now, Michaelbrent is my son, so I am bound to be biased, but that didn't stop me from becoming so absorbed in the final pages of THE HAUNTED that I could almost feel my Kindle growing warmer beneath my fingers as I sped from screen to screen in a flurry to find out what was actually happening.

The set-up is, perhaps, nothing new. A young married couple--the wife pregnant with their first child--moves into a new house that, from what we have learned from the "Prologue," may or may not be haunted. Immediately, strange things begin happening. Their moving van starts and stops without any visible cause. Boxes seem to move mysteriously from room to room. A box-cutter apparently teleports across the kitchen. Little things like that.

But the events do not remain little and soon become life-threatening as grey ghost-like faces appear at windows and a shadowy figure appears in the surrounding woods. As the various apparitions move closer and closer...well, you'll have to read The Haunted to find out more.

The novel is told with such predecessors as Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE clearly in mind, especially in the tone and pacing of the "Prologue," but Michaelbrent rapidly asserts control of his materials and moves them into unanticipated directions. His writing is crisp, often fragmentary as befits the harried, breathless nature of his narrative. He does, however, all readers one fairly long moment of near respite in the middle of the book...or at least, it seems so.

Nothing in the world of THE HAUNTED, however, is quite what it seems.

Father or not, as an authority on Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and horror writing in general, I thoroughly enjoyed THE HAUNTED. Highly recommended.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2012
Cap and Sarah have moved into an old house in the woods and are unpacking. Their story begins as a straightforward haunted house tale, with things seen out of the corner of the characters' eyes, strange sounds, devices that turn themselves on and off without help, etc. Then it gets freaky, visceral and dark. Father Michael says the house won't let them go. Is he right? And what does he mean? I won't give away any of the twists, but I will tell you that you'll be seeing a grotesque and Dickensian cast of phantasms out of the corner of YOUR eye when you try to go to sleep after reading this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2012
I'm not one for giving away the punchline or ruining a great story for another reader with a spoiler. Rating Collings's latest offering is, therefore, a challenge, because one must not talk about "it". But believe me, "it" is there with a vengeance, even if I can't talk about "it" without ruining "it" for the next guy. I can say, with a clear conscience, that *The Haunted* is a darn scary book, full of all the things I love/hate: close spaces, unexpected twists, disembodied and very angry personages, and NO WAY OUT. The author does the hardest thing the best, I think: he sustains a LOT of tension from the beginning to the end. It just never lets up. The relationship between Cap and Sarah is tight and nicely played out, but didn't save me from the bad dreams that I had when I finished the book well after midnight. What more could anyone ask from a horror story?
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2014
I still remember the first time I read Shirley Jackson's amazing "The Haunting of Hill House" - it's one of those stories that echoes in your mind for years. While the author attempts to acknowledge Jackson's work in his opening sentences, 'The Haunted' sadly cannot be considered worthy to stand even in the shadow of the truly great horror tales.

Collings' writing, in and of itself, isn't bad - I do believe he has the potential to write solidly entertaining books, and maybe even scary ones. But as someone who's loved good horror stories throughout my life, this one seemed forced and trite. I think 'overkill' is a fair term to use...it's as though the author tried to summon up every type of ghost, telekinetic event, 'scary' noise, and haunting image you may have seen/read in other stories, and crammed them all together in this short book.

The entire burden of the threadbare plot is carried by a couple whose characters are so obscured by the avalanche of apparitions inflicted upon them that they cease to be even mildly interesting or compelling. I just stopped caring about what was happening to them...I was too busy giggling as I wondered what type of ghost would come next in the endless procession.

I regret being a negative reviewer, as I believe this author has significant potential. But even as a super-inexpensive Kindle 'special', this one wasn't worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2014
This book just went on and on and never really scared me. I never got invested in the characters. I found myself skimming quite a bit. It was a lot of action, but not particularly interesting action. Needed more backstory I guess? On another note, this author wrote a book called STRANGERS that i HIGHLY recommend. Couldn't put that one down. This book just didn't do it for me... I give it 3 for an ok and somewhat surprising ending.

Somewhat SPOILER ALERT: I always think one ghost, or killer, or bad guy is much more frightening than several without a story behind them. Started feeling like I was reading a cheesy Night of the Living Dead type thing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2012
The Haunted is a horrifying and amazing story! It keeps you reading to see what happens next. I couldn't put it down. It's a frightening story that will grip you and hold you in suspense til the very end! Michael Brent Collings has you scared and intrigued of what frightening events this couple experiences in their new house. This is definitely one of the best haunted house stories ever written!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2013
This was an AMAZINGLY haunting and creepy book that completely surprised the hell out of me, which is really hard to do...can't say much without spoilers so I won't (the baby thing by the window??? OMG the worst visual ever!!!) READ THIS!!! I read every thriller ever written and trust me this one is awesome & crazy creepy. Love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I was in the mood for a book that would REALLY scare me, and after several duds, I came across this book. Wow am I impressed. I not only received the scare I was looking for, but also a mind-bending ending that I never saw coming. The action starts very early on in the book, and once the action starts, it's non-stop and hard to put the book down. I recommend setting aside a decent chunk of time before you start reading this to avoid a very late night.

Aside from this book scaring the $##% out of me, the book has other positive attributes that should be mentioned. One of my favorite attributes about this storyline is how it's delivered in such a unique way. Each "chapter" of the book is broken down into days and time (like: Day 4, 3:02 am) giving the feeling that you are an integral part of the action. Additionally, by providing the time of day, I was also better able to visualize, as the reader, what was happening. (Who knew daytime could be so scary)!? This tactic really draws the reader in and connects them to the setting. Character Development is top notch. The main characters are multi-dimensional, rich with description and emotions. As a result, the reader actually cares about what happens to them. The book is also well edited-a pet peeve of mine.

Where the author really shines is in two distinct areas:

First, description of details. There are many 'entities' within this book. What makes them so frightening is the readers own imagination. The author accomplishes this by not being overly-descriptive. There are just enough details given to provide readers with a 'sketch' of the entity. From there, its left up to our own imaginations to fill in the blanks. This is a genius approach because what the readers' fear-driven minds create can be far more frightening than what any one author could possibly describe. In this way, the reader maintains some small control over how macabre the 'entities' are.

Second is originality. There are numerous 'haunted house' novels on the market, yet the author manages to give this story a unique spin. Not once did I feel as though I was reading something familiar and predictable. The story and its characters remain entirely unique, right up to the unexpected and twisted conclusion.

I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for great psychological horror without the gorey and gruesome elements so commonly found in the horror genre.
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