The Bell Witch
by John F.D. Taff
The Bell Witch by John F.D. Taff is an historical horror novel/ghost story based on what is perhaps the most well-documented poltergeist case to occur in the United States. It tells the story of the Bells, an early 19th-century Tennessee farm family who begin to notice strange occurrences-odd noises, bangings, gurglings. Eventually, an entity reveals itself to the family, calling itself, simply, the Witch, and makes it clear from the outset that it was sent to kill the patriarch of the family, John Bell, for a reason it never makes quite clear.
The Witch’s antics, while not exactly endearing it to the Bells, make the spirit somewhat of a novelty. Word of its existence spreads, first through the Bell’s slaves, then through the rest of the community. It tells jokes, makes predictions, offers unwanted advice and even sings. It shows an intimate knowledge of The Bible and of history and politics.
It harasses those who annoy it most, saving its ire for John Bell and his teenage daughter, Betsy. These two people become the focus of the apparition’s attacks, both verbal and physical. Ultimately, the Witch fulfills its promise of killing John Bell, while also forcing Betsy and her mother, Lucy, into considering their own roles in what created the spirit.
The Bell Witch is, at once, a historical novel, a ghost story, a horror story and a love story all rolled into one.
Screaming Cacti Lettereds, 26 copy lettered edition