This tale begins with a modern setting, on the creepy Ninth Floor of a hotel, where an old woman just wishes to be left in peace. But that isn’t possible. It never is in this world.
A novelette by Lori R. Lopez, The Witchhunt unfolds in several parts, with four casts of characters connected by one . . . and she is not one to be messed with!
Someone should tell that to the construction crew daring to disturb her, threatening her territory. The cop and the property manager showing up to evict her. A pair of detectives sent to investigate deaths on the floor. Those who persecuted her through the ages. Tell them all to leave her alone, or suffer the consequences. But it would be too late. By the end you may wonder who was hunting whom?
The author of Leery Lane, Cornstalker, Monstrosities, and Samhain among other tales, Lori has created a speculative horror story brimming with emotion and flashes of dark humor. The story introduces elements of Alternate History and Ancient History, while addressing a number of present-day issues and concerns. The Witchhunt leads to the Past, yet tackles serious and timeless themes that remain eerily relevant.
“It’s the Old Witch. It’s true! I’ve heard about her. La Bruja Vieja. I’m not going out there.”
A word — one word — can repair injury, or be wielded like a dagger.
~ from The Witchhunt
Restrictions might be vital for security, and granting rights shouldn’t mean limiting the rights of others, yet there needed to be allowances. A solution.
The average immigrants and refugees weren’t dangerous or dishonest. They tended to be blamed for the actions of the few, disliked for taking employment, draining resources. For upsetting the Economy. Increasing poverty levels and crime rates. Causing populations to explode, as workplaces downsized. But the truth was, the majority of non-immigrants had immigrant blood in their veins. Generations who enriched a populace as much as they expanded it. Seldom did their arrival win fanfare. It was the same in many regions, many periods of History . . . a portion of the planet’s inhabitants in search of a new beginning. Wandering. Unwelcome.
Perhaps they needed better neighbors.
~ from The Witchhunt
Words are important and powerful, lasting and significant.
They can be used to praise, inspire, enlighten . . . or criticize, punish, bully. It is not the words themselves that harm, but those who intend them to destroy.
We must train ourselves and be resilient so that names will never hurt us.
THE HAG’S PATH led to this corridor from countless strides, innumerable steps fraught by tumult and affliction. The Ninth Story harbored an ominous current. A level of tension like a mordant keening in the ears.
Do not trespass.
They came without malice, yet they were invaders. They were a threat — an augur of peril.
Men in helmets rode a capacious Elevator, armed to the teeth with drills and hammers, screwdrivers and tape-measures, the tools of Carpentry. Their conveyance halted. Doors sprang wide. An opaque hallway stretched.
“Where are the lights?”
“That doesn’t look good.”
“It’s blacker than a Coal Mine.”
Darkness swam, its tentacles exuding.
“Just a little shadow. Fuse musta blown. Our work begins.” A ramrod of discipline, the burly commander with a sable complexion reassured his troops by example, maintaining a stoic demeanor. He compressed a door, then stabbed a red HOLD button.
“It’s the Old Witch. It’s true! I’ve heard about her. La Bruja Vieja. I’m not going out there,” protested a mustached grunt with salt-and-pepper hair.
“Lori R. Lopez conjures a tale for our time.”
“With prose as sharp as the points on a witch’s pentagram, Lori R. Lopez conjures a tale for our time.”
Lee Murray, author of Into The Mist
“The Witchhunt begins with mumblings of a supernatural presence as a crew makes repairs. Soon, accusations and slurs are thrown among the men as something sinister comes between them. Next, a policeman accompanies the property manager as she seeks to enforce an eviction notice, and an investigator encounters the Witch and hears an account of the depravities of human nature and the need for peace. Through her villain’s dialog, author Lori R. Lopez breaks down the cycle of the human condition as the Witch has experienced it.
The Witchhunt destroyed the “wicked witch” stereotype for me. Lori R. Lopez challenges her readers to question whether the villain of her novella is evil, or is the Witch a product of generations of abuse and misuse? The language is well-developed, and it builds suspense. Darkness is felt from more than just the story; it also arises from the emotions and visions the words evoke. The injustices in the world are clearly outlined in the dialog and through the thoughts of the characters. There is so much more to the story than just an old woman who refuses to leave her apartment. Through her long life and list of experiences, the Witch has become an empath, feeling the pain of the world too strongly to have daily interactions with society. The story draws on the terrors and injustices the Witch has seen and endured to paint her withdrawal from society in a more positive light. The story is suspenseful, yet thought-provoking, as the reader is encouraged to understand the reasons for the Witch’s actions or inactions. I recommend the book to mature readers as the subject matter has horror elements.”