Sara Ali

Review of MANSION from Dancing Girl Press

Imagine seeking shelter while trudging through ankle-deep puddles on an eerie, rainy night. The full moon beams above you, shining on a sanctuary for spectral beings and sinister souls. An iridescent purple and orange sheen illuminates your path to MANSION, the Creepypasta-esque book of poems you didn’t ask for but knew you needed. 

Astral project onto the pages and let yourself escape into Slender Man’s world. Don’t bother looking back. Stay a while, and let the words seduce you as you explore the haunted hallways that is MANSION.


Edited by Buffalo-based poet Justin Karcher and Florida native Kristin Garth, MANSION transports its readers to an uncanny and mysterious universe full of horror poetry and childhood fears. Featuring over 20 poets, MANSION triggers that feeling you get when you sense an invisible presence causing the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up. 

Reading the anthology reminded me of what it felt like to be a kid watching horror films alone at night while binge-eating candy after trick-or-treating. It’s an unsettling yet welcoming and familiar feeling. You ever have those nights where you fall asleep listening to a Creepypasta and start to dream about the story, as if your subconscious is wide awake still listening? That’s what reading this chapbook is like.

One poem that struck me was “Orbital Abduction” by NYC-poet Juliette van der Molen. It’s a harmonious marriage of “The Harbinger Experiment” and, of course, Slender Man, with a touch of American Horror Story: Asylum. I imagined a woman running out from Briarcliff Manor after escaping the wrath of Dr. Arthur Arden, only to be captured by Slender Man’s UFO and swallowed by its tractor beam. 

Buffalo poet J.B. Stone steered away from the fictional fear and brought on realistic anxieties with “Woodland Anarchy,” a poetic, social commentary on our current political climate. For me, I envisioned a werewolf, “howling at an unforgiving moon,” as Stone put it, living in a dystopian world full of MAGA hats and zealots controlling our bodies and invading our souls, penetrating us with hateful rhetoric.

MANSION itself is a commentary disguised as poetry on all things frightening, inspired by the Slender Man mythology – whether it be Tara Lynn Hawk bringing you on her murderous journey for validation, or Bayveen O’Connell reminding you that in a flight or fight situation, you may just freeze in fear while his silhouette lurks in the shadows, or John Dorsey beautifully depicting every parent’s worst nightmare, MANSION offers something for all readers who have a love for the weird, the creepy, and the darker side of poetry.   

You can purchaseMANSION right now and dive head first into a ghastly world of mythical monsters. No hiding behind your blanket, you’ll find it hard not to keep your eyes wide open as you flip through the morbid pages.

Sara Ali is a Buffalo-based freelance journalist and a full-time social worker. She graduated from SUNY Buffalo State with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies, with a focus in journalism and media production. She is a second generation immigrant and focuses her work and articles on the refugee and immigrant community. Ali has written for Buffalo Spree, Free Inquiry, The Public, and Buffalo Rising. Ali lives on the West Side with her two cats Gojira and Jasmine, and her partner. You can find her wandering the streets late at night, exploring the city.