Stop It. You’re Scaring Me
Kathleen Evans is released from the hospital. It appears that she is not only dealing with mental illness, but also suffering from amnesia since she hasn’t the faintest idea what led to her condition. The only thing that Kathleen knows is that her doctor arranges for her to recoup at the Vikingsholm Castle at Lake Tahoe, which is apparently haunted. This, of course, is an oxymoron because instead of getting appropriate rest, Kathleen lives in terror. On top of seeing (as well as in dreaming of) the ghosts of a man and a young child lingering about the old castle, it doesn’t help that Kathleen hears footsteps and whispering, and receives incessant phone calls that are filled with static on the other end. Curiously, the few castle housekeepers and sprinkling of visitors deny her paranormal phenomena — just one of a number of clues Kathleen gradually gathers. It is a matter of time if she will learn the truth behind her illness, or be confined to her deranged environs.
Emmy winning Sacramento television reporter Jonathan Mumm spins a terrifying tale that is replete with ghost stories and history. Mumm’s debut novel is set within the Lake Tahoe area and most specifically Vikingsholm, the famous Scandinavian castle, and its Tea House located on Fannette Island — the one and only island on Lake Tahoe in California. Although Mumm’s narrative zeroes in on his protagonist Kathleen, Stop It. You’re Scaring Me is aptly laced with rich imagery that takes into account the many unique features of the historic Emerald Bay castle, such as Mrs. Knight (the original owner who designed it together with her architect), its overall floor plan (including servants quarters), the Nordic fireplaces, “Selma” the clock, and the haunted stories associated with Captain Barter.
Aside from the lush history, Mumm keeps his unnerving debut novel fluid by combining a number of literary tools. Of key importance is Mumm’s use of character development. Although shrouded in mystery throughout most of the book because of her delirium, Kathleen is a slow-moving but nonetheless dynamic character. Imprisoned in this delusional world, readers struggle with Kathleen as she not only fights to return to normalcy – whatever that is supposed to look like – but also painstakingly pieces evidence together. If that isn’t distressing enough, Mumm includes a handful of red herrings to throw readers off as to the real antagonists. Additionally, Mumm alternates his plot with Kathleen’s dreams and hallucinations that are more flashbacks to her past while interweaving a plethora of repetitive paranormal references that are directly associated to objects, such as the phone ringing and its accompanied static and the reoccurring “cold, strange dank, musty smell.”
Mumm incorporates so many twists and turns in his narrative that he offers absolutely no clues as to how his chilling story will end, and the ending certainly is unpredictable. For those who love great paranormal and psychological thrillers, Stop It, You’re Scaring Me needs to be top of that list. Indubitably, it will keep readers thoroughly engrossed from beginning to end.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller