Short Story Review: “The Hay Bale” by Priscilla Bettis

“The Hay Bale”
Priscilla Bettis

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wow, I don’t read much horror, so I didn’t know what to expect in the scary department when I picked up “The Hale Bale” by Priscilla Bettis. Set in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, I was immediately engrossed in this novelette about Professor Claire Davenport, a microbiologist who rents an antebellum manor for the summer. After four miscarriages and a rejection from an adoption agency, Claire has fled the city to regroup. She hopes that her sabbatical in the country will bring her peace and mend her broken marriage.

From the beginning, something isn’t right, but maybe it’s Claire’s imagination. After all, none of the townspeople register alarm when she comments, especially about the strange hay bale near the house. In addition, noises in the wall and a child’s cries put her on edge. Is it possible she’s just grieving her lost babies? After a few encounters with these folks, however, Claire knows she must act, but how? Should she correct the wrongs or just get out of there fast? It could be too late to do either.

This expertly-written story combines horror, history, religion, ghosts and science into a twisted story that reminded me of something I might see on The Twilight Zone. I loved the sensation of something being wrong and enjoyed experiencing the thrill of danger from the safety of my comfy chair. I appreciated the many descriptive details that offered hints about the characters and I laughed out loud at Claire’s choice of a book to read to relax! Bettis also ties past to present in a way that gives readers perspective and explains, in a warped way, the characters’ motives.

Bettis rewards her readers with a wild finish that will make you think hard about Claire and the people in this little town.

I’m so glad I read “The Hay Bale” and recommend it to readers who like all kinds of fiction. This one has just the right amount of scariness and weirdness!

Thanks for visiting—come back soon.

59 thoughts on “Short Story Review: “The Hay Bale” by Priscilla Bettis

  1. I totally agree with you—Priscilla is an amazing writer. I truly enjoyed The Hay Bale, even though it gave me chills at times. 😊

  2. Even though the reviews are topnotch and the cover is alluring, I think I’ll pass. Horror is not my thing. But then again–I like Flannery O’Connor and some of her short stories are horror-able!

    1. Hi Lynette – I thought it was very well written and it didn’t scare me the way I thought it would. Stephen King is too scary for me – once I saw The Shining I was never the same. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Hi Teri – I’ll definitely be looking in the center for something suspicious, but I won’t investigate it the way Claire did! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  3. Yes, awesome review! I don’t read much horror either and didn’t know what to expect when I started to read this one. It was well written and pulled me in right away. Mysterious along the way with a scary finish. I may get brave and read more horror. This was a good introduction.

  4. Excellent review, Barb. I read this one just after it came out and also thought it had “just the right amount of scariness and weirdness!” Priscilla is an amazing writer. I’m starting her newest one in a day or two. Happy Reading!

  5. This sounds like a compelling read, but I have never liked horror or weirdness. There are many out there that do though, and your review will get that book readers!

    1. Hi Noelle – I understand, as Priscilla has mentioned, horror isn’t for everyone, but I’ve seen that it has become a lot more popular and I have been curious. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      1. I once started reading The Shining on a transatlantic flight, and got so scared I put it down, didn’t sleep, and never finished reading it I did raise the larvae and moths for The Silence of the Lambs, but didn’t see the movie until it was shown at the student union, when the catcalls and jokes from the students put me at ease.

  6. Hi Barbara, I am pleased to see you went out of your comfort zone and read this book. It is a very good read which I also thoroughly enjoyed. I must admit that books about paranormal and supernatural events are not nearly as scary for me as books about real tragedies like For Whom the Bell Tolls which we both read.

    1. Hi Robbie – that’s an interesting comment, but I understand. I guess there’s a certain comfort and release in reading and writing paranormal/supernatural/horror because it’s clearly not reality. Thanks for the visit 🙂

Comments are closed.