A Brief Guide to the Seeking of Ghosts is a practical guide to bringing spirits back to the world. There’s so much depth to the story, giving way to conversations on life and death, and the ways people grieve. The final paragraph sealed the deal for me — it’s one of my favorite stories of the month.
A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE SEEKING OF GHOSTS
Lightspeed Magazine, September 2018 Issue
I loved this story. It’s an in-depth fictional guide to bringing ghosts into the living world, based on season or weather patterns. The writing is personable, lending a fun style to an otherwise dark topic. I love the level of detail in the instructions, and the discussion on the types of ghosts. This is, naturally, a discussion on humanity and how we cope with death (both in life and in death). It’s well-done and very thought-provoking.
The final paragraph moved me deeply, capping off this quirky guide with a reality we must come to terms with, that saying goodbye is oftentimes the only thing we can do to move on. I spent a few minutes reading this over, taking the words to heart.
The only characters are the ghosts in their many varieties and the narrator who remains aloof from the actual plot. The many types of ghosts give way to a conversation on how people die, and how they accept their death. It’s also a look at how they act when presented with the living world again. Do they rise up happily to greet those who have summoned them, or do they wreak havoc on the world around them? Do they come willingly, or do they hide in the shadows, giving nothing more than a nearly inaudible whisper? It’s a wide spectrum, and Howard takes us through it vividly.
The story leaves a lot of room for imagination when it comes to setting. The Red Wheelbarrow comes to mind when I consider the many possibilities presented by Howard. Her lack of actual setting gives readers the ability to come up with our own settings, to imagine the ghosts vividly. The setting will be different for everyone, yet we can still experience the same story. It takes this short piece of fiction and extends it infinitely. That’s the sign of a great piece of short fiction, in my opinion.
Ghosts, Fantasy, Seasons, Death, Grief
Interested in more stories like A Brief Guide to the Seeking of Ghosts? Read our short reviews here.