Well The Bell Witch was not at all what I was expecting, and I liked it so much more for it! I was totally thinking this was going to be your typical haunting ghost story, the title, the creepy cover, the real history at play here, everything leads you to believe that’s exactly what you will get.
Even the beginning of the book starts out giving you what you thought you wanted, random objects moving on their own, a voice rambling out of no where. The poor inhabitants of the Bell manor are being accosted by something they can’t see or touch, unfortunately for them the “witch”, as the entity ultimately becomes known as, can see and touch them, and she does so menacingly.
What started as the usual haunting symptoms quickly escalated and went far beyond anything I could have foreseen. What the witch ended up being was something I’ve never quite seen before. It was crazy how her presence, and her antics, quickly became a source of relief from the heavier undertones of the question, and answer, of WHY she was there to begin with. It was an interesting read for me in that sense, to have something so awful, I mean completely stomach turning going on, but have this witch, the character that you would think would be the source of this turmoil, end up instead being an antihero of sorts and your only reprieve from the unjust situation that lead to this haunting. It was amazing to me to actually laugh out loud at some of the things this witch would do or say!
It was hard to think that was possible with the heaviness of the other things going on. I really appreciated this aspect of the story.
Although the witch could be humorous and insightful at times, she also made it clear from the beginning that she was there for retribution of sorts, to right a wrong that had been done. She was not shy about voicing that she was there for certain members of the Bell family, and to ultimately kill the patriarch, Jack Bell. Even with that being known, she left the why of it as a journey they would all take together and that some parties would also endure individually too. This witch ended up becoming a mirror of sorts, where some of these characters had to take a long hard look at themselves, and those around them, and start to realize and accept things that had been going on unacknowledged for awhile. Terrible, damaging things. I’d say that there was a clear message here of the potential dangerous repercussions from not expressing one’s true feelings. The very real sense that things like anger, bitterness, hatred, etc. can all fester and build into something we might not recognize within us anymore, and even take on a life all it’s own. I love the way the author brought those ideas to life, it was wonderfully done.
While there are obviously quite a few things to gush about here, there were also some things that were not as thrilling too. I was honestly pretty underwhelmed by almost every character in this story, other than the witch that is.
The witch stole the show here, and I felt that everyone else was playing second fiddle to her orchestra. There were also times where things seemed to drag out and the story wasn’t progressing as much as I wanted it too. I figured out what was going on here pretty early on, and it became frustrating at times that the characters were taking such a long time to come to the same conclusions. I get that their acceptance was the journey, but after awhile I couldn’t help but to want someone to shout it from the roof tops and for some justice to be doled out. Although I suppose the slow building torture, the witch being there day in and day out may have been the ultimate form of justice, for no one could take a day to try and forget the horrors of it all when it was so clearly in their faces. Still, after so much I was as eager as the Bell’s to see it all come to an end.
All in all it was an intelligent and fresh take on a rather famous documented ghost story. It was a great blend of fact and fiction and an interesting journey.