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Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World Paperback – September 30, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
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You have to love an author that takes the whole family fun, wholesome image of Disney World and twists it into something spooky and malevolent...this book is spooky alchemy at its finest. --Peter D. Schwotzer, Famous Monsters of Filmland
I finished this book over 5 days ago, yet her dead animal story, "Skeletons in the Swimmin' Hole," is still with me. Now that's a good storyteller! --Nicole Henke, Bless Their Hearts Mom
From the Inside Flap
Casey's brother had died while clutching a Magic Kingdom ticket.
Casey kept the ticket under a refrigerator magnet so he'd see it every night before he went to his job as a monorail pilot; Saturday, though, he notices it's missing.
At work, he locks up the monorail fleet for the evening and starts hurrying to his car, only to stop when he hears the whoosh of a train on a nearby beam.
"I know I secured them," he says on a call to his supervisor. "Should I go back and investigate? Someone could be joyriding."
"No one told you?" his boss replied. "We have special hours for guests who held non-expiring tickets at death."
Top customer reviews
The namesake story is about a woman artist whose specialty is taking photos of dead animals. It speaks well for the quality of writing that such an apparently repugnant brand of art comes across as hauntingly beautiful, in the woman's point of view--so much so that when her husband acquires the ability to sense the last thoughts of the dead, her desperation from having to abandon her art is palpable. When she meets a strange man, one of the avid fans of her art, she cannot help but fall for him, forming an unusual love triangle. But she's soon to discover the dark side of the fascination with death, darker by far than her own.
Miss Reyna Gets Her Comeuppance on Flash Mountain is a very short story about a young woman who is deathly afraid of rollercoasters yet works for one. Why? It turns out Miss Reyna has reason enough for both in her past. One of the best stories in the collection, it ends in a resolution that's happy and tragic at the same time. The language is hypnotic--again, easing the reader into the main character's decision.
In a striking, but less haunting, parallel, Charlotte's Family Tree also features a woman who's afraid of one particular attraction in Disney World, so much so that she denies her daughter the fun of visiting the place. But when she's finally pursuaded by her husband, we discover what had happened between her and her mother at that same attraction when she was a little girl herself. But the darkness is resolved through the main character's daughter--and, surprisingly, her dead grandmother.
In All This Furniture and Nowhere To Sit, the genders are reversed. This time, it's a man whose father, dead by now, didn't let his young son visit Disney World, believing that his son was better off learning the practical things on the farm. Now, the main character's wife suddenly acquires a very expensive obsession collecting relics of the now-dismantled attractions and refashioning them into new furniture for their house. Soon, they end up sleeping in a 1964 Small World boat for the bed. Oddly enough, the relics "whisper" something into the man's mind. This time, though, it's the dead's turn to find atonement.
Perhaps the funniest in the collection, Doing Blue is about a drug-like high inflicted by the Blue Line attraction on a weird group led by a Jesus impersonator (earnestly believing he's the real deal). This gives much opportunity for related humor. But the highlight of the story is the atonement found while "doing blue" by a new member of the group, tormented by her crimes.
On the weirdness end of the spectrum is Romancing the Goat, about a teenage girl having trouble adjusting to her new adopted sister. She does make mistakes. But I wonder whether it was possible to get along with Angelina, the way she's portrayed--for she's no angel. The story is open-ended, with the sense of inevitable horror coming the main character's way. But I felt that the girl acted younger than her age.
With the possible exception of that story, I find atonement to be the overarching theme of the collection. Worth a read.
So, I am double delighted that my copy of this book arrived on 10/15 so that I can enjoy it into Halloween. I have had the pleasure of seeing and sampling some of these stories in their infancy over the past year and cannot wait to see how they ended up in print.
You know how Stephen King has that uncanny ability to tap into the familiar? Imagine that, but for a Disney fan...
Stephen King meets Walt Disney - what more could you want!?
The book is a quick read and a few of the stories are pretty good, but I don't think there is quite enough "haunted" nor quite enough "Disney" to really attract the readers of each or both of these interests. Worse, it seems like the stories could stand alone on one or the other - haunted or Disney and it seems almost like pandering to go for both.
The writing flowed easily, but I was irritated at several instances where I had a hard time believing a character would do what they were doing when the actions seemed so unlikely. A sense of realism was often conveniently overlooked in order to steer the reader toward a given plot point.
Overall, I'm glad I read the book, but I probably won't be reading it again or buying it for anybody else.
Kristi Petersen Schoonover is a talented writer with a flowing, easy-to-read style. Her troubled characters and spooky storytelling captivated me and I read this book in a day and a half, always eager for when I could return to it. I found the references to Disney Parks in each story vivid and fun. Anyone who enjoys ghost stories will want to get a copy of this book, and this is must-reading for adult Disney Park fans.
I enjoyed all of the stories, but if I had to choose, my favorites were All This Furniture and Nowhere to Sit, and Charlotte's Family Tree. In the former, a wife goes nuts bidding on expensive Disney memorabilia such as a Small World boat, a monorail cabin, and cars from the Peoplemover. As the house turns more and more into a deserted amusement park, eerie things begin to happen. In Charlotte's Family Tree, a mother must confront the ghosts of her past in the Swiss Family Treehouse. Behind the haunting tales is the profound message that a person can escape from the world for a few days, but can never really escape himself. I can't wait for more books in this delightful series.
Most recent customer reviews
You have to possess a really creative mind to think of using Disney World as the focal point of a book...Read more