Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marian by Vivian Vande Velde

**(out of four stars)

I'm continuing my journey through Vivian Vande Velde's anthology, All Hallows' Eve. As you know from the first review, I wasn't a huge fan of the first story, Come in and Rest a Spell. But I'm giving Miss Velde the benefit of the doubt. I know I'm bound to catch a good story within the pages of this book. And let me tell you, the second story is better.

Have you ever read in the newspaper about some smock who takes a wrong turn with a GPS system? I remember reading about some tool who actually listened to the GPS and parked his car on a set of train tracks. Let's just say he lived but the car was demolished by an oncoming train. The story I read last night kind of has the same scenario, but with a ghostly, supernatural twist.

It's Halloween night and Justin is just coming from a lame Halloween party. From the get go we can tell this kid is a douche bag. He's a careless driver and as he's leaving the apartment complex parking lot, he barrels over a speed bump. This triggers the car's GPS system, named Marian, to come to life. Justin had purchased the car a few months prior from some college kid looking to score a quick buck. The car isn't in the best of shape, so Justin is surprised to see that the GPS actually works. Marian has a sexy voice and will do anything to get Justin to his next destination; which is home. Marian is state-of-the-art and has pinpoint accuracy. Anywhere you need to be she'll get you there with the fastest route. Hell, she even helps you stay away from highways that are clogged with traffic and accidents.

Justin knows the area and obviously doesn't need to be assisted home. However, for the sake of just feeding into this machine, he obliges her and lets Marian lead the way.

Justin's car eventually stalls due to the vapor lock coupled with some bad antifreeze. In horror, he realizes that the car has stalled right on the tracks. A train is scheduled to pass by momentarily. Marian tells Justin that the car has to sit for a period of five minutes or so. When the car is supposed to be started this would give him a few precious seconds to start the car and get out of harms way from the oncoming train. It takes him a while and he gullible sits as he's instructed. Eventually he comes to the realization that Marian is purposely making him wait there; hoping that he meets an untimely fate.

The End of the story reveals that Marian is actually a ghost who has possessed the car's GPS. She was the victim of a careless drunk driver. The drunk driver who owned the car before Justin. Marian is ready to possess something else and possibly bring harm to another careless punk. Vengeance is her method of madness.

I really like the fact that this story had a ghost possessing the car's GPS. I mean, that is actually a really good, original idea. Why Justin listened to this GPS is beyond me. If you know your way around what would the point be? If he died in this story I wouldn't have felt bad. He just seemed like he was a pompous, arrogant character that I could care less about. A question I asked while reading was if Marian actually made the car stall in the first place. Premeditated murder by a ghost. Nice concept. One thing I really enjoyed was the short and precise way Vivian told this story. She didn't linger on and on about anything pointless. The story is smooth and it's a quick, fun read. Too bad Justin's experience wasn't as good as mine.

Author: Vivian Vande Velde

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


*Next story will be Morgan Roehmar's Boys*

Will the stories get better? I guess we'll find out!

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