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Most people can’t fathom the idea that their significant other might harbor a dark secret. You live with your spouse, eat with them, sleep beside them, you share your life with them. It seems impossible that they could hide something so big from you. Most people have a secret or two but there are some so dreadful in nature that even entertaining their possibility feels like a cloud of darkness eclipsing an entire household and that’s why when someone such as Ted Bundy emerges, their usually unsuspecting partner gets the brunt of the “how could you not know?” questions. They become a target of blame because they didn’t stop the monster sooner, exactly how a lot of people once viewed Elizabeth Kendall.

Elizabeth Kendall, real name Elizabeth Kloepfer, was Ted Bundy’s longtime girlfriend whom he was dating and practically living with during the bulk of his murders between 1974 to 1978. He murdered young women and then would come home to have dinner with her and her young daughter Molly, putting on that charming façade he was best known for.

Despite the public perception of Kendall being some innocent, naive moron who had no idea her boyfriend was a serial killer, she actually did have a hand in turning him in or at least raising suspicions against him. She reported him to the police hotline at least twice, gave multiple statements back when the police had him prematurely cleared, and actively cooperated with their requests. All while she was still dating him.

No one gives her credit for this though because, in the end, she was still standing beside him in court, choosing to love him rather than brokenly believing the truth. She wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Everyone who knew Bundy was shocked by the accusations. They couldn’t believe someone so intelligent, charming, and “handsome” could do such heinous things. So no, Kendall was not a starry-eyed moron who alone fell for one man’s tricks, but if she has one major personality flaw it’s that she’s incredibly indecisive.


The Obsession with Bundy

Let me say a few things about Mr. Theodore Bundy. Stop obsessing over the way he looked, and stop being shocked about his charm. He wasn’t the only charming motherf***er with a knife but unlike him, the likes of Ramirez, Manson, Shobhraj, Maeue, and Knowles all had at least one noticeable character flaw that allowed the public to believe in their accusations whether it was being a drug addict with rotten teeth or being a hippie with a cult. There is a persistent obsession with Bundy’s physical appearance and higher education that highlights our ridiculous assumptions when it comes to the Hollywood engrained perception of “good vs evil.” It’s not his crimes most people talk about, but how he didn’t fit the mold. Killers are not masked goons stalking the night, living on the streets, or slum houses with grotesque features and facial scars. They’re also not the embodiments of Satan as the press likes to present them.

Bundy was a psychopath, plain and simple. A psychopath that suffered from an inferiority complex. Two very real traits that when put together happen to make for a bad, angry combination. And if your under the notion that he was like Stu Macher and had no motive for his crimes, I advise you to look more closely at his victims.

Bundy’s targets each represented former girlfriend Diane Edwards, a woman he dated in college who dumped him for being, in her own words, “pitifully weak.” Matching her physical characteristics with softer and more inverted personalities, he murdered women in place of her. In a blunt analysis, Ted Bundy was a pathetic egotistical man who murdered in an attempt to overcompensate for the dominance he lacked on an emotional and intellectual level.

Even if it’s not the basis for the book, all this is shown further in Kendall’s memoir, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy. Although it might not have been her intentions, Kendall’s words smooth some of the edges that was Theodore Bundy. She describes him not as a monster, but as a man, an extremely vulnerable and unpredictable man that wrote annoying love letters and cried in her lap when he found out he was illegitimate. All his fears and doubts are put out on display as Kendall almost twiddles down this hellish beast into something made of flesh and bone, something insignificant. It’s actually a powerful thing because in humanizing Bundy, she’s almost stripped him of his power.

Elizabeth’s Story

The Phantom Prince was originally published in 1981, just one year after Bundy received his third death sentence, and ironically, was the same year Carole Ann Boone gave birth to his first and only child. Knowing he probably read this while on Death Row actually makes me laugh because I’m sure he just loved to hear about how many times he got on his knees and begged Kendall not to break up with him.

There are at least two editions of this book. The 1981 original and the updated edition republished on January 7, 2020. They offer different endings and introductions as the republished edition contains an afterthought Kendall added after gaining different perspectives over the years. The updated edition comes with photos and a special chapter written by Kendall’s daughter Molly who details her own memories of Bundy. The book is largely Kendall defending herself against the public. She describes the love she felt for the killer, as well as the all-consuming guilt she felt once she started to suspect him of the horrible crimes occurring on college campuses. It’s a compelling statement of emotional defense because as much as The Phantom Prince is Kendall explaining herself, it is also a long personal note to herself about coming to terms with what happened.

“It took years of work for me to accept who he was and what he had done. I still felt lingering shame that I had loved Ted Bundy. It was healing for me when women started telling their stories of sexual violence and assault as part of the #MeToo movement. I could relate to keeping experiences secret for fear of being judged.”The Phantom Prince

The book starts a little before the year 1969 when the couple meets and then patiently runs throughout the course of their relationship. Kendall recounts memories she clearly ran over a thousand times in her mind during times of loneliness and confusion, detailing how she met and fell in love with who she thought was a soon-to-be successful lawyer. A man far out of her league. She describes him like a high school jock in a John Hughes movie who magically falls in love with the introverted nerdy girl. A jock that peaked senior year and loses nerdy girl well before she succeeds in post-graduation life.


This becomes the spine of her story, their back-and-forth turbulent romance that builds towards the breaking of the author. The actual crimes are not covered in depth because everything told in The Phantom Prince are things that Kendall herself was actively involved in. It covers her thoughts and feelings only, so while the murders are largely absent, we learn what she was feeling every time a new girl went missing and we see parts of the investigation that aren’t often shown.

There were a few moments that made me want to throw the book out the window. Points when I wanted to throttle Kendall for the amount of worship she gave a man who, even based on her own personal accounts, never seemed like much of a catch. Everything this guy did screamed, “give me attention!! Tell me I’m smart, I’m the smartest man in the world, right? Say right!” No, Teddy, the answer is no, but love is blind so I guess she disagreed. That line from American Beauty could’ve been his motto: “I don’t think that there’s anything worse than being ordinary.”


This book is actually a good companion read to the Netflix documentary series, The Ted Bundy Tapes. I would recommend reading The Phantom Prince after watching the four-episode series as it not only fills in some of the blanks but it also shows the other side of his personal life, a behind-the-scenes look. The book, even though it was written long before the series came out, almost plays off against the information revealed in the series as if Kendall is watching with you, commenting on what’s being shared with the audience.

The Phantom Prince is an interesting side to the Ted Bundy story, one that sheds some light on a figure who has often been brushed aside despite earning her place in true crime history. The book would be enjoyed by anyone interested in Bundy, and anyone else for that matter since it comes off as a sad soap opera with a slow mystery unfolding. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

Book Reviews

Monastery Series 8: a Book Review



Dear readers, the time has come for some answers. At least, that’s what the teaser for the new installment of Monastery says. As usual, it delivers what it promised and more as we untangle the past and its connection to the present. Without any further ado, let’s talk about it, shall we? 


We start the episode with a blast from the past. Cassandra and Celeste (Nicole’s aunt and Arthur’s lover for those with short-term memory) are in the hospital because of Celeste’s pregnancy complications. Cassandra promises her former best friend that she will ruin her all the while we find out Francis’s real parentage. The picture is finally starting to come together. 


As we are back in the present day, our group is more scattered than ever. Thomas is his father Walt’s prisoner while David is still running around looking for Rocky. Fred on the other hand is just looking for any place to crash, homelessness and all. Our dethroned beauty queen Nicole is hiding away from everything – including her shame. Last but not least, little Henry is spending his time taking care of Nana Beth. Guessing that is his redemption for trashing all the evidence of Albert’s murder gathered so far. Although frustrating, his actions are understandable – the poor kid is traumatized and just wants some peace. 

George Turner’s murder is still an active investigation. It is obvious that this cover-up wasn’t nearly as successful as Albert’s. I sure as hell hope that Francis gets his comeuppance sooner rather than later. Not particularly because Turner didn’t deserve it but so the rest of the characters would be safe from him. Although as I’ve said before, his clear descent into sociopathic tendencies is kind of fascinating to watch. 

We also get an interesting development in what so far has been a tiny background detail, which is the Monastery Werewolf. As the creature comes to visit Rocky, we find out our resident star dog considers it family. Not going to lie, it took me a few reads to understand what this means. Now I’m getting all sorts of ideas as to how the supernatural ties into the rest of the story. 

Speaking of the supernatural, it is none other than Madame Witch who frees Thomas from his captivity. Well, her contribution is indirect as she sends his best friend Alfie to help instead. Although I’d say currently the two should set their dynamic status to ‘it’s complicated’. As soon as he’s free, Thomas is immediately back in his detective mode. For arguably the first time he gets some real answers as we find out the whole backstory of Albert/Celeste/Cassandra triangle. I won’t go into details as that trio deserve their own article but let’s just say it gives Cassandra a big ass motive for killing her husband. Not to mention the way she took Francis from Celeste was quite brutal to read. 

We reach the lead-on for the grand finale as David and Henry are coming to free Rocky. This naturally comes with a condition – they must hand Francis the key they found during the investigation. Little do they know Nicole is already there being held at gunpoint. Oh, and Fred should also be around somewhere as he was sleeping there the night before. Thomas might be a little late to the party since he and Alfie are held a knifepoint by Rick (seems like a running theme here). Nothing good can come from this. 


Overall thoughts

This episode does a perfect job of setting up the big finale. It reveals everything we need to know except the main question – who killed Albert? At this point, while it of course still matters, this story is so much more than that. It’s about all the mess that this family has got themselves into, how with each mistake they kept digging deeper, and how it took a whole new generation for all of that to come up to the surface. I can only hope our investigative gang will make it out alive…  5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

More thoughts from the author:


1. Although a minor character in comparison, Walt strikes me as someone who’s there to represent the themes of Monastery – someone who will do horrible things in the name of family. What was your intention with his characterisation, especially considering he works for justice (aka the police?)

This is why I will always defend my decision to have a large cast, as opposed to most books – when you get even the slightest sense of fleshing out a minor character, it feels so rewarding. Walt, to me, takes the crown of “father of the year”, even if he does it by locking his son up in the bedroom. He is protecting his wife’s secret, protecting his son’s innocence, and doing so by going against his core ideals – i.e., a detective covering up a murder. He’s also based on a favourite uncle of mine, so it makes me happy to give him his moment to shine.

2. Something I thought of while writing this review – the cover up of George Turner’s murder seems to be a kind of juxtaposition as to how neatly Albert’s was since the police keep discovering evidence left and right (and how Francis doesn’t particularly seem to care). Was this intentional on your part?

It all adds up to plot convenience, and I have no shame in admitting that – Albert’s murder was so neatly covered up because I needed it to go unsolved for 14 years, whereas the reader knows who killed George, so there is no need for the cover-up to be well done.

As for Francis’ reaction to the murder, he started out anxious and paranoid after the fact, but he has grown into a state of not caring, which further depicts his descent into darkness – he knows he’s close to his goal (of finding the money and leaving his family), so there is a sense of invincibility taking over. He is stepping into his main villain energy and we are here for it!

3. Alfie has been yet another background character until now and yet he is the one who rescues Thomas. To me he seems like the friend who genuinely cares for Thomas and who gives him that reality check he sometimes needs to get out of his own head. Was that at least partially why you chose to bring him in for the grand finale?

Fun fact: Alfie was originally a series regular. However, halfway through writing the series, I realised I wasn’t using him as much as I’d wanted to, so I bumped him down to recurring. But the original plan always saw him and the other regulars coming together for the big climax, which is why he is in the fold. Alfie is someone who keeps Thomas grounded (if not humbled), since Thomas has the slight tendency to, well, think he’s better than everyone else. What’s coming up for them is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever written about.

4. Lastly, it’s not so much a question but rather a well done for how you crafted the Albert-Celeste-Cassandra dynamic! I was very invested despite knowing the outcome. Weirdly enough, while hating Cassandra for how she handled it, I sort of understood why she thought that Celeste deserved it? Either way, congrats for managing to craft these love stories in the midst of all the murdery goodness.

Thank you so much. As I’ve said before, romance is not my strong suit, but I do love a soapy triangle – and if it ends with gun violence, even better! The reveal of this mystery is probably my favourite sequence in the series so far.


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Book Reviews

Maeve Fly: A Horror Novel Review



The evils lurking Los Angeles are unveiled in CJ Leede’s 2023 debut novel, Maeve Fly. The novel is a gruesome love letter and ode to Los Angeles and horror icons, centering on the titular character, Maeve Fly. She is, in short, a Disney Princess and serial killer.

Below the Depths of Anaheim

By day, Maeve Fly works as a princess in “the park.” It is is never named, but obviously Disneyland as depicted by Maeve’s vibrant descriptions of the princesses, furry costumed animals, and movie-themed rides. She plays a Scandinavian princess (Elsa) and genuinely loves the job and her coworker, Kate. In her personal life, Maeve tends to her sick, comatose grandmother, former starlet Tallulah, and her grandmother’s cat.

A stock photo of Los Angeles

Maeve has an ordinary personal life, including going out with Kate and takes biweekly, afternoon trips to a Tiki bar in which she, a man who may or may not be Johnny Depp, and the bartender are the only patrons. Her interests include the macabre and all things horror and Los Angeles history, her love for the city a central theme throughout the novel. When Maeve meets Kate’s brother, Gideon, Maeve’s sense of self unravels.

Mirroring Fiction

The problem with Maeve’s sense of self, however, is that she has no idea who she really is. She adopts the personalities of literary characters, from Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground narrator to those in James, Kant and Milton novels.

Maeve is selfish, antagonistic, and very selective of the people she lets in her life. She is an unreliable narrator with an unpredictable temper and ultraviolent tendencies.


Leede’s prose and writing of Maeve invites a new narrative to the genre. Maeve is persistent in her disgust with how often villains need a tragic backstory as excuse for their monstrous behavior, especially when the villains are women. Leede dismantles that trope and provides Maeve with no reason for her treacherous behavior. It is simply who Maeve is.

An Ode to Horror

Maeve Fly is everything I love in a horror story. It is an unpredictable slasher with comedy and heart. Leede has displayed her talent for writing horror. She has created a story that pays its dues to the genre’s long iconic history — one example is the references to Pyscho or American Psycho — but is wholly unique in it’s own form. From captivating dialogue to visceral depictions of horror history and Los Angeles’ sites, like the La Brea Tar Pits, the novel sucks you in until the very last, bone chilling sentence.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Mister Magic



Released in August of last year, Mister Magic is written by author Kiersten White. And I’m going to give you the warning that I wish I’d have had when I started reading it.

This book deals largely with the systemic issues prevalent in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. While there are no overt discussions or descriptions of child abuse, I would argue that it’s alluded to.

In the interest of full disclosure, White lets us know in the acknowledgments that she was raised Mormon and is not anymore. I was also raised Mormon and am not anymore. And this book wrecked me.

The story


Our story begins with a young woman named Val. She’s been living with her father on an off-the-grid farm for most of her life.

When he dies, a mysterious stranger shows up at his funeral. This man, named Marcus, seems to know her right away. She knows him as well, though she doesn’t seem to remember why.

Eventually, he explains that she was on a children’s TV show called Mister Magic. A show that she has no memory of at all.

And this makes sense because there is little to no evidence online that the show exists. There are no clips, no scripts, no cast lists. It’s as if the show vanished entirely when the last episode aired.

Oh, and during that last episode, a kid probably died.


Desperate to remember her childhood and maybe even reconnect with her mother, Val leaves with her former cast mates for a reunion and podcast taping.

As the Circle of Friends reforms, fans of the show online rejoice. If the cast is getting back together, it must mean Mister Magic is coming back.

And that’s exactly what the mysterious creators have in mind.

What worked

This book shows a world that is all but impossible to describe from the outside. Long before I realized this book was an allegory for Mormonism, I was catching signs. It felt familiar.


Everyone was a little too nice. Everyone seemed to be holding back a little. Everyone seemed eager to do things for other people, almost like they felt like they had to justify their presence.

I also appreciated that we talked about child abuse without talking about child abuse. Through the book, we learn that one member of the cast, Kitty, is missing. Her disappearance heralded the end of the show, but no one wanted to talk about what happened to her.

This, I thought, was a subtle and brilliant way to talk about abuse without having to go into upsetting details. And in not adding these details, White leaves us to invent them ourselves. Which is always worse.

Sometimes it’s the notes you don’t play that make the biggest impression.

To that same end, there is no real gore in this book. No charred bodies, no blood. No gruesome scenes at all. But I feel like that was intentional. I’ll also point out that in reading other reviews for the book, I noticed that others criticized the character for being rather bland and one-dimensional. Both of those things are likely on purpose, and part of proving a point.


In the book, each character remembers Mister Magic pulling them back. He taught them the habit of dulling themselves down. Don’t paint in such a wild manner. Don’t shout so loud. Don’t stray too far.

Don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t be different.

In the end, Mister Magic managed to do exactly what the very best horror does. It took a real horror that most people do not experience and turned it into a metaphor that everyone can understand. And it doesn’t have to be just former Latter Day Saints members. All survivors of religious abuse will see themselves in this. But we’ll also see all the other lost children, trapped with Mister Magic, and realize we are not alone.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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