Stillwell: Michael Phillip Cash
Paul Russo’s life has taken a turn for the more difficult losing his wife Allison and having to deal with three difficult children. Each one seeking his attention and each one trapped in their own world of grief. Jessie his oldest seems to be rebelling in every way, both in school and at home. He can’t deal with his mom’s death and he won’t even enter his parent’s bathroom not able to handle her lingering scent and feeling all-alone. Stella Luna the youngest hears voices and thinks that her mother’s spirits is lingering around and she is not at rest or at peace. Not believing her nor wanting to argue Paul plays along with her rants and her raves about a demon in the house and that her mother needs their help to get to the other side. Veronica who was at one time placid and is Jessie’s twin feels sad, deserted and hurt at his actions and outbursts explaining to Paul exactly where it hurts. But, things are not quite normal for him either as he has a nightmare that is quite terrifying, the morning after he does have some bruises or the rest of the terror has yet to begin as the author takes us to a house that his more than just haunted, a listing that Paul hopes to get and sell but one that would make most shy away from. Stillwell Manor is a family home on Long Island but is haunted by a suicide- murder. Somewhere within this home is an omen and a house haunted and plagued with horror that when Paul goes to inspect it before deciding whether to sell it what he sees or envisions is frightening. Told that the crime scene was cleaned up he never expected the gory sight left behind.
Trying to create a schedule for his children, learning to deal with their wants and tantrums and needs, Paul has to reinvent his life without Allison.
Their marriage was a connection of eternity for life. Three small children, his parents and Allison’s willing to help but wanting to cope on his own, nightmares about a demon or monster that has captured his wife’s spirit and is not allowing her to rest in peace on the other side, Paul begins to think he is imagining things as he opens his eyes and sees Allison’s image float by. Within his nightmares he begins to think that someone has kidnapped Allison, who, why and can he safe her while at the same time his youngest daughter expressed the same and wanted him to know that her mother needed his help.
Entering the house to analyze what needed to be done before showing it made Paul realize that there is something or someone that does not want the sale to go through as he falls down stairs and is injured. Not wanting to make a big deal out of the incident he forges ahead, goes to another booking and begins to wonder whether he should even take the listing or give it to someone else. But, money is the issue at this time. Going back home his entire family is there helping to deal with his children but for some reason Paul seems disjointed and does not really relate until later on to his sister Lisa what seems to be bothering him and she does not take what he says seriously.
The history of the area is introduced, the history behind the young girl who died behind the house in the well and the possible reason for her death are quite compelling to Paul and what is driving him to learn more. Could there be a spirit in the house? Why does Stella keep saying she sees her mother and that he has to find a way to help her? From what?
Paul is a realtor and the nightmares he is having are real, vivid and each time he winds up with cuts and bruises that he cannot account for. His children feel his pain but their own is just as prevalent and each one is dealing with Allison’s death in their own way yet each one feels her presence. Learning about the family home or estate and realizing the history he not only works with the client who is a friend of his parents but Allison’s mother who tells him a story that changes it all. Was it really a murder/suicide? The house seems to be haunted and although he prepares it for the open house he feels a connection to Hannah the girl who lived there and sent missing and might even be a connection to the strange sensations and feelings he gets in his own bedroom and the shadow of a woman that appears. Learning that Allison was related to this family and hoping to find the reasons behind his dreams will the history help, will he come close to facing his wife and what about the woman in the well?
A photo would change it all and when someone else sees the shadow of the woman Paul begins to question more than his eyes and decides he needs to take part in a cleansing. Is the house haunted? Why did the flowers and bouquets he had placed in the house for the showing all wilt and die? What was the house telling him and why did he children feel the presence of his wife too?
Dealing with the death of my mom and my sister six months apart I feel the sadness, sorrow and frustrations that Paul is going through. Wondering why is not always answered and dealing with family is difficult. Having to help both my niece and nephew come to terms with losing their mom is it understandable that Paul would find it hard to focus on work, learning how to be two parents to his kids and finding time to just grief. On the other hand we feel the presence of not only Allison but Hannah too who seemed trapped in limbo somewhere.
As you get to the end of this novel you realize that there is more to come before the supernatural ending. The feeling of despair within Paul, his children at times and not knowing how to deal with what he thinks he sees takes readers inside the spiritual world, supernatural phenomena and keeping a link to his past in the present.
Sometimes things draw you in and what happens at the end will either make you a believer of the supernatural, ghosts and links to those that have passed but remain in your heart or you might still have doubts. Will Paul finally really that he has to let Allison go?
Stillwell Manor: Will it sell or will the spirits win? An ending that you won’t expect as Paul makes a startling revelation about the young couple that died by the hands of someone who refused to allow them to be together? Hannah: Did John kill her or how did she wind up in the well? Sometimes you have to believe before you can move ahead. This is a great book teaching family loyalties, love, hope, beliefs and remembering that as long as there are stars in the sky the people that we miss will always be there for us. I do believe that is true. Once again author Michael Phillip Cash has hit a supernatural high mark with this outstanding thought-provoking novel. Veronica, Stella Luna and Jesse: Three children linked to a mother now and forever.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/ MJ Magazine
Since I love a great Starbucks Decaf Cappuccino and sometimes a piece of their delicious lemon sponge cake that Paul loves too: Let’s give him five coupons for his drink of choice and five pieces of golden lemon sponge cake.