Haunting the Dead features four novellas set in White Wolf’s World of Darkness featuring characters from the Orpheus game line. This is a break from the usual format that White Wolf uses when releasing a new game. Usually there is a fiction anthology featuring several short stories. The novellas in Haunting the Dead allow for more character development and (as with any good ghost story) more plot twists. This was a great idea and I hope White Wolf continues his trend.
The first story, The Grass is Always Greener, by Stefan Petrucha, is the best of the bunch. This story introduces the reader to the world of Orpheus without forcing pages of information down our throats. The author takes through the mind of the main character as she deals with her inner demons while hanging out with a band of misfits. The tension continues up to the very end of the tale, keeping the reader hooked and wanting more. A difficult tale to follow, The Grass is Always Greener, starts off Haunting the Dead with a bang.
The other three stories in Haunting the Dead follow the game material a little more closely than The Grass is Always Greener, featuring the adventures of Orpheus Agents (the type of characters you’d play in the RPG). Eurydice, by Seth Lindberg, is a good tale, but it probably would have made a better full-length novel. It does feature a creepy villain that fans are still discussing on the various Orpheus boards on the web. Dia de los Muertos, by Allen Rausch, and Corridors, by Rick Chillot, are good fiction, and fit the world of Orpheus well…they just are not on the same level as The Grass is Always Greener and to a lesser extent Eurydice.
My hat goes off to Becky Jollensten, who did the cover and book design for Haunting the Dead. Most readers don’t notice these little details, but she did a great job with this book. The design adds just a bit of extra style, complimenting the novellas inside.
This book ties in well with the Orpheus game supplements, but is enjoyable by those who have no knowledge of the game. A great collection of talented authors that should set the standard for new material.