BOOK REVIEW – AMBROSE BIERCE – THE MOONLIT ROAD in Classic Tales Of Horror Volume Two - Bloody Books.
A traditional American 19th century ghost story narrated from three different points of view.
The opening testimony is that of Joel Hetman Junior, who tells a court of enquiry about how he received the shocking news that his own mother has just been murdered by an unknown strangler. Rushing home to Nashville, Joel finds his distraught father who tells him how he came home to find his wife’s body in the bedroom.
Over several months, Joel struggles to help his father overcome his grief, and one night, as they walked in the garden, the father becomes convinced that he has seen the ghost of his dead wife. He is so frightened that he runs into the woods and he is never seen again.
The second statement is that of the killer himself, a madman in an asylum who was convinced that his own wife was having an affair with another man. Following her, but somehow mistaking Mrs. Hetman for her, he murders her and the look in her eyes destroys what little sanity he has left.
The murder victim herself, through a spiritualist medium, tells the third and concluding part of the story. She remembers her murder in graphic detail, and then being trapped in a dark, timeless limbo. She does recall seeing her husband and calling to him, out of love, but that he was too frightened and fled, meeting his demise in some way that has put him in a similar limbo to her own. In a final cruel twist, she reveals a premonition that her son is soon doomed to die too.
The three-handed narration lifts this above the norm and gives it a very clever edge.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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