Title: Witch Hazel
Author: Jeffrey Ford
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror
Dates read: 24th November 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: He’d drink and talk, and I’d listen.
We wear sprigs of hazel to honour the souls on All Hallows Eve. But where does that practice originally come from?
So I’ve never heard of the practice of wearing a sprig of hazel on All Hallows Eve. Although, I don’t really know all that much about All Hallows Eve (or Halloween) since it is not within my normal experiences. Regardless, I liked this kind of origins story to such a practice. It took a practice that seems cute and folksy… and then turns it into a horrifying mess that makes you cringe. A lot.
The image of a beautiful young woman covered in blood, running around with a Hachette in a forest is pretty much what nightmares are made of. The fact that she kills her dog just expands on the horrors of this. Certainly not an image that I can get out of my head. And the fact that it’s all because there is some weird disease going around? Creepy, creepy, creepy. And blood everywhere.
I did really enjoyed the fact that this story also plays on the superstitions which tend to surround twins. The idea that there is something a little bit evil about twins (sorry to my twin-friends out there). The haunting that they perform and the twist at the end makes me not want to see one of my very good friends for a little while… being that she’s a twin who loves blood and all (she’s a nurse, nothing weird here).