Review: 'Paper Tigers' by Damien Angelica Walters

Paper-Tigers-Hi-ResPaper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters
Dark House Press (February 29, 2016)
286 pages; $10.63 paperback
Reviewed by Jonathan Reitan

In a horribly tragic apartment fire, Allison is left disfigured and emotionally haunted by the inner ghosts of pain the trauma has caused. Her disfigurement is so overpowering, Allison confines herself to her home to escape the constant stares and whispers from the outside world. A nagging mother and routine visits with a therapist are her only connections to reality.

In her own personal confinement, Allison finds solace in collecting old photo albums and forgotten photos from sales and thrift stores. It’s through these photos of other people’s families and other people’s memories that Allison escapes. She transforms herself into their memories, their past…while leaving her sorrowful and somber self in another plane.

Her next find is a dusty old album found in a thrift store window on a rare and brave venture out. Allison is intrigued by this album with its stuck-together pages, its hidden inscriptions and forgotten photos. She becomes obsessed in discovering what may be hidden between the pages and starts investigating the family contained therein. What she finds is Pennington House, a house haunted by its own ghosts, all of whom died tragically with stories of their own.

The ghosts of Pennington House, who seem to live through the found album, draw Allison in. She becomes sucked further and further into the album, quite literally. One moment sitting alone in her grim reality of today, the next sipping wine with ghosts in a cobwebby mansion from the past. Each time Allison visits her scars seem to disappear, she starts to feel herself become whole again. As the album gives her confidence and power, it’s also on the brink of taking everything away from her and trapping her into yet another terrifying place in time.

With Paper Tigers Walters gives us a truly unique look at the haunted house story. This slim novel can be read in just a few sittings for it will consume you. Damien Angelica Walters shows off her talents to scratch at our nerves while providing a story so deeply emotional and beautifully poetic.

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