Urban Legend: Ghost Town of Lake Lanier

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Lake Lanier is the largest lake in the state of Georgia, boasting more than six hundred miles of shoreline that borders five different counties. It is itself a man-made lake, created to establish flood control as well as hydroelectric power and drinking water to much of the surrounding area. It provides many practical services, but it also provides a place for nautical excursions and summertime pleasures. Every summer millions of people flock to this massive body of water in North Georgia to enjoy boating, fishing, and time spent on the beach. But would so many carefree cavorters come if they knew of the deadly lore of the ghost town that (quite literally) lies beneath the surface?

Lanier County and Lanier Lake map in Georgia

The Ghost Town of Lake Lanier is a sprawling urban legend that concerns unmarked graves, displaced souls, hundreds of deaths, and vengeful spirits. Back before the lake was built, the area was home to a variety of businesses, churches, and homesteads. When the government decided to dam up the Chattahoochee River in the 1950s, thus creating the lake, they had to pay off and remove around 700 families.

Though the US Army Corps of Engineers removed many of the buildings in the area (though some built of stone and concrete still remain on the lakebed), they had a harder time when it came to the cemeteries scattered throughout the land. Try as they could when relocating the bodies, there was no way to account for every single soul buried in the soon-to-be-flooded region. By 1956 the lake was finally filled in.

And that’s when the deaths began.

Unnatural Encounters

Imagine a vast body of murky water, in the depths of which resides an abandoned ghost town of concrete skeletons, rusting ferries, countless debris from personal belongings, and even the grandstands of an auto-racing track known as Looper Speedway. Now imagine you’re going for a swim and you feel unknown hands grabbing at you from beneath the waves. Or, conversely, imagine you’re going for a dive and you feel body parts frozen in rigor mortis. As local longtime diver Buck Buchannon tells it, “You reach out into the dark and you feel an arm or a leg and it doesn’t move”. 

Dark water with hand coming out

In addition to these grave encounters, other apparitions have been sighted by lake goers throughout the decades. For some it’s giant catfish as big as station wagons. For others it’s a raft piloted at night by a cloaked figure who vanishes when you go for a better look. But the most detailed and famous story involves two women who drowned there in the fifties. 

The Lady of the Lake

Back in 1958, friends Delia Mae Parker Young and Susie Roberts were driving their Ford across Lanier Bridge over the lake when they suddenly veered off the edge into the water. Divers searched the area but could find no evidence of the women or their car. Then a year later a body was discovered, missing both hands and several toes, but it could not be properly identified. Finally, thirty-one years later in 1990, the Ford is discovered with the body of Susie Roberts still inside, leading most to assume the body discovered decades earlier belonged to Delia. 

Where the story really gets creepy is that for years people have claimed to see a lady walking the length of Lanier Bridge, dressed in blue and missing both hands. Not only would that sight be enough to scare the bravest away, but some have reported that the spector will accost them, using her maimed arms to try and drag them into the lake. Chilling stuff. 

Creepy bridge at night

Lake Lanier Now

Many who visit Lake Lanier would never suspect that such nefarious legends surround it. In fact, its popularity has only increased over the years, and it has become a number one destination in the state during the summer months. However, it is also a place with a checkered past. In addition to the alleged supernatural occurrences, there have been over six hundred people who have died in the lake since it was created. That high body count, much higher than any similar lake in the area, has only buoyed confidence from those who believe the area to be haunted. The truth of the matter is, there is an actual ghost town beneath Lake Lanier, and it’s a sobering fact that hundreds of bodies, both living and dead, were displaced in its creation. Sounds ripe for a haunting to us!

Sources

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/31/us/lake-lanier-urban-legends-trnd/index.html

https://www.southerngothicmedia.com/lake-lanier

https://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/issue-113-summer-2021/the-haunting-of-lake-lanier

Book Recommendation – The Worm and His Kings

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Reviews

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper.

Hailey Piper writes horror and dark fantasy, and is a member of the Horror Writers Association.  She is the author of Unfortunate Elements of My AnatomyThe Worm and His KingsThe Possession of Natalie GlasgowBenny Rose, the Cannibal King, and others. Her short fiction appears in publications such as Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, The Arcanist, Flash Fiction Online, Daily Science Fiction, Tales to TerrifyBlood Bath Literary Zine, and many more. She lives with her wife in Maryland, where she haunts their apartment making spooky noises. Find her on Twitter via @HaileyPiperSays and on Instagram via @haileypiperfights.

Hailey Piper author photo

Synopsis

New York City, 1990:

When you slip through the cracks, no one is there to catch you. Monique learns that the hard way after her girlfriend Donna vanishes without a trace.

Only after the disappearances of several other impoverished women does Monique hear the rumors. A taloned monster stalks the city’s underground and snatches victims into the dark.

Donna isn’t missing. She was taken.

To save the woman she loves, Monique must descend deeper than the known underground, into a subterranean world of enigmatic cultists and shadowy creatures. But what she finds looms beyond her wildest fears—a darkness that stretches from the dawn of time and across the stars.

Review

The Worm and His Kings is the best cosmic horror story I’ve read all year, and easily takes a place amongst my all-time favourites. It has a protagonist you really root for, creepy monsters (love the Grey Maiden), a fantastic backstory, lots of twists and turns, and plenty of unsettling and mind-bending scenes. It also has an ending that surprised me, but also makes perfect sense with the story. This is my first book from Hailey Piper, and I can’t wait to read what else she has written.”

Ben (@reading.vicariously)

To read the full review, click here!

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace

Book Recommendation – Sour Candy

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Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Reviews

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Hailed by Booklist as “one of the most clever and original talents in contemporary horror,” Kealan Patrick Burke was born and raised in Ireland and emigrated to the United States a few weeks before 9/11. Since then, he has written five novels, among them the popular southern gothic slasher Kin, and over two hundred short stories and novellas, including PeekersBlankySour Candy, and The House on Abigail Lane, all of which are currently in development for film and TV.

Most recently, he adapted his work to comic book format for four volumes of John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloween Night series of anthologies and contributed a short story to Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors.  He recently completed a new novel, Mr. Stitch, a collection of novellas entitled Guests for Suntup Editionsand a graphic novel for Storm King Comics. He lives in an unhaunted house in Ohio with a Scooby Doo lookalike rescue named Red.

Kealan Patrick Burke author photo

Synopsis

At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to set his own bedtimes and eat candy whenever he wants. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.

What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.

Review

“I was truly enraptured as I read. I couldn’t look away. I had to know what was going to happen next to Phil as his life is turned upside down in a most upsetting way. The young boy is seriously creepy, and I was legitimately worried about what was going to happen. And speaking of, there are numerous twists and turns that I did not expect. And that ending…wow. In fact, it’s the type of story that is best read with your expectations at the door. Just buckle in and enjoy the ride!”

Ben (@reading.vicariously)

To read the full review, click here!

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace

Book Recommendation – Crossroads

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Reviews

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

Laurel Hightower grew up in Kentucky, attending college in California and Tennessee before returning home to horse country, where she lives with her husband, son and two rescue animals, Yattering the cat (named for the Clive Barker short story) and Ladybug the adorable mutt. She loves discovering new favorite authors, and supporting the writing and reading community. A bourbon and beer girl, she’s a fan of horror movies and true life ghost stories. Whispers in the Dark is her first novel, though there are always more in the pipeline, and she loves researching anything horror related. She can usually be found working on the next project into the wee hours, sometimes as late as ten at night, as long as her toddler allows.

Laurel Hightower author photo

SYNOPSIS

How far would you go to bring back someone you loved?

When Chris’s son dies in a tragic car crash, her world is devastated. The walls of grief close in on Chris’s life until, one day, a small cut on her finger changes everything. 

A drop of blood falls from Chris’s hand onto her son’s roadside memorial and, later that night, Chris thinks she sees his ghost outside her window. Only, is it really her son’s ghost, or is it something else—something evil?  

Soon Chris is playing a dangerous game with forces beyond her control in a bid to see her son, Trey, alive once again. 

Reviews

Crossroads is a gripping, deeply emotional ride. From its very first sentence to its shattering finale, this novella held me spellbound. If you aren’t reading Laurel Hightower, you’re missing out on one of horror’s brightest rising stars.”

Jonathan Janz, author of The Raven and Children of the Dark

Grief addicts unite! This book should come with a free therapy session, or at the very least a box of tissues. What a heavy read. I could feel the sorrow and pain coming off the pages as I read, and after finishing it I was completely wrecked. Overall this is an incredible novella, and one of my favorite reads of the year so far!”

Ben (@reading.vicariously)

To read the full review, click here!

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace.

Witch Novels that Taught Us Not to F#$k With Witches

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books

Stories of witchcraft are as old as time, and the concept of “witches” is one that spans many countries and cultures. Throughout the centuries witches, or simply those suspected of witchcraft, have been hunted and persecuted by mainstream society. There are many different types of witches, including kitchen witches, hedge witches, bruja, and daayan – all with their own beliefs, practices, and conflicted history. However, across categories one fact remains the same: witches are powerful.

Given the diversity in witches and witch folklore, it’s no surprise that stories involving witches are just as varied. We at Puzzle Box Horror want to acknowledge that the term “witch” should not be an inherently negative one, and there are many practicing witches and pagan communities that are a boon to society. Our goal with this article is not to disparage witchcraft in general, but rather to explore the darker side of the coin. With that in mind, we’d like to present some of the scariest witches in literature.

Maggie’s Grave by David Sodergren (2020)

Maggie's Grave book cover with spooky skeleton

MAGGIE WALL BURIED HERE AS A WITCH. So reads the faded inscription on the solitary grave at the top of a mountain. In the shadow of this mountain is Auchenmullan, a small Scottish town that has been left forgotten and lost to the world. Only forty-seven residents remain, plus the grave on the mountain. In a dead town with nothing to do, the residents suddenly find themselves confronted by the chilling fact that sometimes the dead don’t stay buried. Especially when they have unfinished business.

Maggie’s Grave is a shocking, disturbing, and fast-paced thrill ride of witchy horror. The buckets of blood, the flawed characters, the gross-out moments, and the folk horror elements will linger in your mind long after you’ve finished reading.

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman (2020)

The Remaking book cover with snake eating it's own tail

In the 1970s, Amber Pendleton was cast in a horror film titled Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek, based on a true story of a mother and her daughter who were burned at the stake for witchcraft. Then, in the 1990s, Amber was cast in a remake of the cult classic movie. Now Amber herself has become the target of a witch hunt. In an attempt to free herself from this cycle of horror, she decides to tell her story one last time to a true crime investigator for his popular podcast. But will this retelling bring the closure she needs, or will it unlock a dark and vengeful force from the past?

The book brilliantly engages with four different versions of the same urban legend, while also populating each version with interesting characters and shocking incidents. This unsettling read will be sure to please fans of both horror and true crime!

Devil’s Call by J Danielle Dorn (2017)

Devil's Call book cover with hat and shadow

A western horror with witches? Say no more! Devil’s Call is written in the form of a diary from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. One wintry night in 1859, Li Lian’s husband was shot dead right in front of her. Unfortunately for the men who did this dirty deed, Li is part of the  McPherson clan, a long line of women gifted in the dark arts of witchcraft. In the diary Li recounts how she crosses miles of harsh land and numerous odds to hunt down the monsters who killed her husband.

With her rifle, her wits, and her powers of witchcraft, Li is truly a terrifying force to be reckoned with. It’s a supernatural tale of vengeance and motherhood set in the wild west, and it’s a must-read for lovers of witchy horror.

The Witching House by Brian Moreland (2017)

The Witching House book cover with old stone house

Sarah Donovan is scared of just about everything, from heights, to tight places, to the dark. But when her boyfriend wants to go explore a supposedly haunted house in the woods, she must swallow her insecurities and face her fears. The house in question was the scene of a brutal massacre in the 70s, where twenty-five people were killed and whose perpetrator remains a mystery. But the hauntings in the house are more than just urban legends, and Sarah is about to find out that the evil residing in the basement has simply been waiting for fresh prey.

The Witching House veers away from copious blood and gore, instead delivering a fast-paced tale of suspense and pulse-pounding terror. It’s a lean horror novella, one you can fly through while also reveling in all the twists and turns of the unique storyline. 

Wytches by Scott Snyder (2015)

Wytches book cover with creepy dark forest

The Rooks family, hoping to escape from a haunting trauma, has recently moved to the remote town of Litchfield, New Hampshire. They’re hopeful for a new life and a fresh start, but the ancient evil watching them from the woods has other plans…and it’s hungry.

Wytches posits a world where witches are darker and more terrifying than previously imagined, throwing out cliched tropes in favor of creepier creatures. The story is surprisingly emotional while also unsurprisingly bone-chilling, and is one of the absolute scariest graphic novels about witches we’ve ever seen (thanks in part to the nightmarish imagery from artist Jock). This volume collects issues 1-6 of the miniseries from Image Comics.

The Good House by Tananarive Due (2006)

The Good House book cover with house on a hill

Looking for a sweeping and spooky saga of family, loss, grief, and witches? Then look no further! Angela Toussaint has spent the last few years burying herself in her work, trying to rebuild her law practice after her son Corey committed suicide at a Fourth of July party. Unable to keep her questions at bay any longer, she eventually returns to the house where it all happened and looks for answers. However, the dark forces she discovers are more sinister than she could have imagined.

This epic 500 page book takes its time, allowing you to learn more about the Toussaint family, the surrounding town of Sacajawea, and the Good House itself. But there is a constant building dread, and when the horrors hit, they hit hard. Even seasoned horror readers will find themselves spooked by this tale of ancestral evil and voodoo witchcraft. 

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon (1973)

Harvest Home book cover with house in a storm

Time has not touched the village of Cornwall Coombe, a small town in New England. The quant colonial homes and white-steepled church seem to exist outside of modern life, and life in the village seems peaceful and easygoing. Newcomers Ned and Beth Constantine fall in love with this remote hamlet, assuming they’ve found the safe haven they’ve always dreamed of. Unfortunately, what they find instead is a disturbing and wicked force that turns Cornwall Coombe into a place of ultimate horror.

This book plays well to its folk horror roots, with its emphasis on rural life, dark pagan secrets, and evil in a small town. It’s definitely a slow-burn horror, but it maintains a high level of tension throughout while also delivering complex characters and a fascinating, if unnerving, storyline. Mysterious omens, brutal violence, and terrifying witchcraft – Harvest Home is one not to be missed!

Other Recommendations

The Devil’s Mistress by David Barclay (2021)

The Year of Witching by Alexis Henderson (2020)

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (2016)

The Lords of Salem by Rob Zombie and BK Evenson (2013)

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (2009)

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (2004)

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