Open House on Haunted Hill by John Wiswell

Welcome to Short Fiction Friday! Every Friday, Black Forest Basilisks will be shining a spotlight on a new short story, novelette, or flash fic in addition to our regular posts. These stories will usually be available for free online, but occasionally stories from published anthologies will also be featured. 

This story is available online for free at: Diabolical Plots – Click through to read!

Open House on Haunted Hill is a finalist in the 2021 Nebula Awards. Read more reviews of Nebula Finalists here.

133 Poisonwood Avenue would be stronger if it was a killer house. There is an estate at 35 Silver Street that annihilated a family back in the 1800s and its roof has never sprung a leak since. In 2007 it still had the power to trap a bickering couple in an endless hedge maze that was physically only three hundred square feet. 35 Silver Street is a show-off.

I have been deeply impressed by the short story category nominations for the Nebula Award this year. Previously, I reviewed both My Country is a Ghost by Eugenia Triantafyllou as well as Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse – and let me tell you, they’re going to living rent-free in my brain for some time. And I have exactly zero complaints about that, because they are excellent. Read more reviews of Nebula Finalists here.

John Wiswell’s contribution to the ballot is just as wonderful but much cozier and more optimistic in tone than either of the first two. With a title like “Open House on Haunted Hill,” I was not expecting to be so thoroughly charmed. The titular haunted house wants nothing more than to have people it can care for, and it does its very best to woo a new family into putting a down payment in with the realtor.

A common theme in Wiswell’s writing is parenthood, and this story is no exception. A widower and his young daughter are looking to buy a new home, and he faces everything from a refusal to wear a coat to a lost locket while trying to view 133 Poisonwood Avenue. His responses to her crises and the house’s subtle interventions were utterly endearing. My heart grew at least three sizes while reading this story.

Fans of Open House on Haunted Hill should definitely take a look at The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change by Virginia M. Mohlere – it has a similar surprisingly wholesome take on living in a somewhat uncanny home.

Past featured short stories can be viewed here.

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About the Author

John (@wiswell) is a disabled writer who lives where New York keeps all its trees. His work has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Nature Futures, and Fireside Magazine. He wishes all readers the comfort that their settings wish they could provide.

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