Psychic Fair by George M. O'Har

Psychic Fair - George O'Har

Halloween Square: The boys confront the supernatural at a seance in an abandoned house on Halloween.

 

1965. In a religious boarding school Adrian Sparks plays with the old Ouija board he purchased at a yard sale. He works out a plan to convince his roommate Boylan, and their friend Welcome to try it out....

 

1962. A lonely teacher almost regrets the purchase of his fine, large house. His mother and longtime companion had died before they moved in. There is a mystery surrounding the family that built the house but he's become curious about the occult and his mind wanders towards a female student of his with those interests....

 

The Civil War. A Confederate colonel deserts from the army, noting the death of his comrades, but not before he secures something from a remote cabin. He makes his way to Canada, and then to Massachusetts where he entrances a widow and builds a fine, large house....

 

I should find a gif of SNL's Stefan, because this book has everything: a confederate ghost, a cursed family, buried treasure, abandoned houses, heads in jars, night-time hunts with flashlights after curfew.... The boys make contact, of course, with a vengeful spirit through the board and are asked to help it by scouting out an abandoned Victorian pile on Halloween. There is a corrupt little person hunting about for gold, numerous flashbacks detail the history of the spirit's family - the spirit is the colonel - and how the spirit had been just awful in life.

 

The switching of timelines was poorly done. They were clearly marked, but they came at awkward times. There is misdirection to make the reader think that there is only 1 Ouija board being used, when if fact there are 2. For what purpose? The 1962 plot-line makes zero sense and should have been cut entirely. It exists to line up the fact that the dwarf is creepy and how the teacher and his platonic girl pal get the idea for a Psychic Fair.

 

Speaking of, the Psychic Fair is a carnival and nothing else. The boys have a tolerably good time and Adrian has his fortune told. The vendors sell scarves and there is a palmist, but otherwise there are the expected set of games and attractions. I believe O'Har wanted to give the book a 'Stand by Me' vibe, but the friendship of the boys never gelled.

 

The author kept adding elements, stacking them on top of each other, but we didn't get an effectively scary horror novel, a compelling family drama, young friendship, or a period piece. In the end, the Ouija board itself and the goofy conversations the kids have with it are the best takeaway from the book. While reading it I was entertained, but a lackluster resolution left me cold.