"An engaging insightful tale"
Early in the nineteenth century in Robertson County,
Tennessee, thirteen-year-old Betsy Bell begins hearing
strange tapping noises coming from inside the walls of her
family home. A few days later, the poltergeist making the
noise slaps Betsy in the face and pushes her down to the
floor. Yet no visible manifestation is present.
Not long afterward, Reverend Johnston begins a prayer
session that he hopes leads to God's intervention and
ultimately removal of the mute demon. However, instead of
exorcising the evil essence, the Spirit begins
intelligently reciting Scripture in tones that the Reverend
envies. Everyone is stunned by the revelation that the
invisible voice eloquently speaks scripture. As rocks fall
from the sky especially at Betsy and her father, the Spirit
prophesies what the future holds for the Bells if certain
fatherly molestation does not halt.
If a reader expects that ALL THAT LIVES is a nineteenth
century Turn of the Screw or Poltergeist, they will be
proven wrong. Instead the novel is more of a period piece
that describes life on an 1819-1820 Tennessee farm beset by
seemingly supernatural forces. The story line when looked
upon as historical speculative fiction as opposed to a
supernatural novel is an engaging insightful tale.
However, as a supernatural or psychological suspense
account of the famous Bell Witch this project falls short,
but shows that Melissa Sander-Self has the ability to tell
a vivid story.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted May 11, 2002