The prequel and sequel to TRAGIC THEATER. After the near-disastrous attempt to exorcise the Manila Film Center, Fr. Nilo Marcelo and the spirit communicators vowed never to set foot in there again. But what followed after was a revelation that compels them to return for one final visit. And armed with fresh knowledge about his old adversary, Bishop Miguel Agcaoili leads them back to a fateful confrontation.
Isn’t the real world scary enough to go research so much more scary stuff taking place unseen, unfelt except for a few folks unlucky enough to run into pure evil? Well, the author of Tomb Keeper did, and what he produced gave me chills yet again.
This book centers on the paranormal activities taking place in the iconic Manila Film Center, notorious since it was inaugurated in 1982 due to reports of hauntings. According to public record, a scaffolding with six giant beams collapsed during construction and crashed to the main theater area taking seven lives. But according to rumor, the body count was closer to 150. In Manila, this rumor became an urban legend. Some people say it was not rumor but fact.
In Tragic Theater, a group of spirit communicators held a seance to reach out to troubled spirits believed to be haunting the place. What they discovered was scarier than any ghosts, and the repercussions of that first contact are now explored in Tomb Keeper the sequel.
The story went back and forth between 1884 and the present. It opened with the journal of Padre Alcazo. His account said he was in a ship from Spain bound for the Philippines. In his care was a man possessed by an evil spirit. The trail of this 19th century priest led the leader of the spirit communicators, Fr. Nilo Marcelo, and his mentor, Bishop Miguel Agcaoili, from century-old manuscripts and the audio recordings of previous encounters to an old cemetery in the island-province of Guimaras.
Annie, the tourism officer responsible for seeking help from the spirit communicators, joined the quest for the truth. She is stronger now emotionally and spiritually but changed by her ordeal in some manner still to be determined.
So, of course, they have to go back to the Manila Film Center for another confrontation with the entity that has taken over the structure and enslaved the souls of those who have died there. What followed was… well, it was horrifying.
There were times I wanted to scream at the characters not to keep playing with fire, because no matter how skilled they thought they were in dealing with spirits, they were obviously dealing with an adversary that is beyond the group’s comprehension. What scared me is that in this book faith did not seem to have been enough to counter the evil. It was sufficient only to negotiate for a compromise.
The series reads like a documentary rather than a novel. The dialogue sounded as if the characters were reporting instead of conversing. Friends have complained about this, but for me, the style added to the scare factor. It was like watching a reality show unfold in my imagination. The author inserted plenty of references to real events and places and this added to the illusion of reality. I wondered myself why this time I am not critical of the writing, but I think I see this book more of a ghost story that is scary enough in the sharing, as if a friend shared with me his ghost story about a place we are both very familiar with.
I think the strength of this book is that it is able to use the reader’s imagination against him or her… against me!
I found a blog that talked about the books. It was interesting because the blogger grew up near the cemetery mentioned in Tomb Keeper. He posted pictures and they’re very creepy. Check it out.
If you want to read a supernatural horror fiction that is too close to real life for comfort, you might enjoy Tragic Theater and Tomb Keeper.