Revisiting Maynard’s House – Second Posting in My Haunted Cabin Series

mhOnce. Twice. Three times is the charm. This is the third time I am posting about the book Maynard’s House by Herman Raucher. The first was for an article I wrote called From Summer to Autumn: The Spirit Remains the Same (The Darker Sides of Ray Bradbury and Herman Raucher.) In the article I compare the season in which the stories take place to the central themes of the books. I compare an earlier work of Raucher (Summer of 42) to Maynard’s House:

The first book is about the building of a man. This man is constructed on a warm sandy beach in the wake of a wartime tragedy. The second book is about taking apart a man. He is deconstructed in the cold winter snow

Maynard’s House is the story that takes place in the snowy mountains, the story that deconstructs a man – inside a cabin! (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Cabin time!)

The second time I wrote A Review or Maynard’s House , a fitting review since I write about haunted houses and the house that is central to this story, out there on a snowy terrain, is most certainly haunted. But it’s not really a house per se, it’s more of a – haunted cabin! (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Cabin time!)

It should be obvious where I’m headed. This third time I am posting about Maynard’s House in order to place it in the context of this month’s theme – haunted cabins. If you haven’t already done so, please read my article Beyond the House: An Examination of Hauntings Within Alternate Structures. Part 1 – Cabins In one section, I write about cabins from a “solitary confinement” perspective. What the heck is that? To be honest, I had this book – Maynard’s House – in mind when I wrote that bit. Oh hell, I’ll just copy/paste that section into this article. It’s only two paragraphs:

The cabin sometimes becomes the mirror-for-the-disturbed-mind for the sole cabin dweller. Quite often, this solitary character, when confined to a cabin and cut off from civilization, will develop a psychosis that is caused by a lack of human contact. In this scenario, the character is an unreliable narrator and readers often discover that the things that haunt the cabin manifest from his/her own broken mind. But that doesn’t make these things less scary, or even less real.

Trapped spirits are a major staple in a haunted house story. The walls and roof confine them. An old large house has the time and space to trap many spirits from different eras. In a similar manner, the thoughts and temperament of the sole cabin dweller, the “vibes” if I may, have nowhere to go. They coagulate in the corners and add a disturbing stuffiness to an already cramped space. Eventually they boomerang upon the solitary dweller that has conjured them. They morph into ghosts and demons.

The main character of Maynard’s House is all alone in a cabin in the wintry mountains of Maine.  What does he do there? He reflects. Reflect reflect reflect. On his life. On his experiences serving in the Vietnam War. Does he create the spirits he sees or do they exist independently of his mind? Are the children that visit him real?

This lone man, in a cabin that acts like a mirror for his disturbed mind – does this scenario occur in other works? To a smaller extent it occurs in the film I am going to review next (I’m not telling!). But how about to a larger extent in other books or folk tales? It seems as if it does, or that it “should”.  But I tell ya’, this theme is very much at home in Maynard’s House.  If it exists out there in the “wilds of literary motifs”, then Raucher has found it ,harnessed it, and clothed it well with the pages of his book. Raucher develops the theme so well  that the events that occur in his book seem as though they have been prewritten inside our collective unconscious. What happens has always happened. (This time paradox also occurs in the book.) Dog gone it, Raucher, you just had to brand things in my brain before I had even met your work!

It should be obvious that I really, really, really enjoy this novel. With that, nuff said! For more details read the other two articles I have written. Or better yet, read the book!

(Stay tuned – Films about haunted cabins are coming next!)

Review of Rough Draft – First of the Haunted Cabin Series

Rough DraftSometimes Facebook ads really do work. Every once in a while (sometimes its more like twice or thrice in a while),  a post will appear in the Facebook newsfeeds; not a friend’s post, not a post from a liked paged or a group to which one belongs, but from a seemingly foreign source.  In small letters under the post’s heading, the word “sponsored” appears.  This is how I discovered Michael Robertson Jr.’s 2014 novel Rough Draft. Had it not been for the cool looking picture of a log cabin against a gray sky and murky background, I might have passed it on by. The picture caught my attention because, see, I already had this month’s theme in mind – haunted cabins – when this ad appeared in my newsfeeds. So I clicked on the post, and I believe it led me to it’s Amazon page, where I discovered….Yes! This IS a book about a haunted cabin, just what the doctor ordered! (Does anyone still you that expression? Well I did just now, and I am someone!)

Thankfully, this was not some “rough draft” that an author was furtively trying sell as a finished work. (In these days of Amazon scams, you just never know). I confess I don’t like the title. But it does make sense in the context of the story. I do, however, like the taglines that describe the skin of the story:

Three strangers. An abandoned cabin in the woods. And a chilling one hundred year-old mystery that doesn’t want to be solved.

A mysterious blackmailer forces three authors to meet at cabin and write a “rough draft” for a prospective horror novel about the cabin, the surrounding woods and a nearby town. They HAVE to complete this assignment – in one weekend – or face the consequences.

And so, the authors travel across the country and arrive at…gee, I forgot the state, Colorado perhaps? Anyway, two meet at the airport and ride together, where they then have to journey across dangerous terrain to find this isolated cabin in the snowy mountains. They pass over a flimsy bridge, hoping the car can make the crossing. Once they arrive at the cabin they find the third author waiting for them. Now they are three – Robert, a good-looking, smart-alecky kind of guy, Vic, a woman who fools her fans into thinking she is a male, and Finn, a geeky Zombie apocalypse story writer. What happens next? Lots of stuff. Some good stuff. Some disappointing stuff.

The overall atmosphere of the story is delightfully chilling. The build-up to the mystery is done very well. Some scary shit goes down. As it turns out, the authors don’t need to develop a fictitious account of a haunting; the place is already haunted. During the night, their cars are stolen or damaged. They are truly abandoned. But who could have done such a thing, there is absolutely no one around…not another living soul for miles and miles . Things begin to go bump in the night. Hell, the whole cabin shakes at one point. Could this have anything to do with the strange story that they had heard before making their way into the mountains? (One hundred years ago, all the residents of the nearby and former coalmining town. At one point Robert leaves the cabin to go exploring, only to discover mysterious figures weaving in and out of a trail of trees. He then makes a startling discovery in a nearby cave!


Kudos to atmosphere and tension-building drama, the laying out of the mystery, the casual influx of ghostly happenings. But alas, the mystery doesn’t go to a place worthy of the compelling setup. In sum, it falls into a “good guys vs. bad guys” trapping that, IMHO, is a quite lame. Also, there is this other flaw; or maybe its “three flaws”. At least two. Two very noticeable and damning flaws. I refer to the characters, especially Robert and Vic.  Robert is shallow and somewhat smug and yet he is presented as this likable hero. Likewise, “Vic” is an annoying “damsel-in-distress.” At one point, Robert and Finn are very careful not to accuse her of being over-emotional so as not to come off as sexist. The way I read this, it’s really the author, Michael Robertson Jr, that fears that he has written his character much too stereotypically (and he has,) so he adds this part only as if to say, “See, I am wary of stereotypes. I don’t do them.” Oh but he has.

So, what happens to these three characters? Do they become friends? Lovers? Enemies? Dead? That is for you the prospective reader to learn. I cringed at the outcome but who knows, maybe you will find the resolution quite enjoyable.

In sum, good start, great tension-building, atmospherically frightening. But it digresses into the land of the banal, dragging along some very weak  characters.


** Haunted Cabin Analysis Time ! Woo hoo! Haunted Cabin Analysis Time ! Woo Hoo!**


In the article Beyond the House – An Examination of Hauntings within Alternate Structures, I discuss various themes that may or may not occur in haunted cabin stories.

I name the first theme “Outposts on the Edge of the Unknown.” By this I mean that the haunted cabins of stories are surrounded by all kinds of spookiness. Sooner or later, that spookiness will find its way to the cabin. This theme certainly plays out in Rough Draft. Quite often the haunting begins outside. Arrows are found pierced into the front door, as if a phantom archer was taking aim at the cabin.  There are spirits in the surrounding environment and at one point in the story….ah nevermind, I don’t want to give anything away

The second theme I call “Isolation”. Simply stated, cabin horror stories frequently feature dwellers that are trapped in their location with little to no communication with the civilized world. In Rough Draft, their cars are damaged or stolen. Their generator often fails to work. They have laptops that are connected to a private network – the network that is set up by the mastermind of their unfortunate situation. They do not have general Internet access. The third theme, “Micro-Haunting,” states that the haunting is symbolically simple and that haunted cabin stories usually only feature a few characters. This is certainly true in Rough Draft. The fourth and final theme, “Solitary Confinement”, does not apply since this theme pertains to the solitary cabin dweller.

Stay tuned for the next haunted cabin feature. I know which films and books I will be reviewing but I haven’t decided on the order yet, so sorry, I can’t say that the next post will be a review of Blah Blah Blah. But the educated horror fan should be able to guess at the movies I have coming down the pike. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!