Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: Weird Hauntings by Mark Moran & Mark Sceurman

What a great book this was! Except I should get it out of the way right up front; there are some typos with the title, "Weird Hauntings: True Stories about the Most Haunted Sites in America." First, none of them are actually 'weird.' Or 'hauntings,' per se. And a great many of the stories were obviously not remotely 'true.' And the places were far from the 'Most Haunted Sites.' Also, I didn't think the book was great. However, I can confidently state that the 'in America' part was mostly true. I think they went to Canada at least once.

So this is basically a compilation of 'true ghost stories' compiled by some authors-some good, some not so good. For example, there were 2 or 3 stories in there from Joseph Citro, who is a brilliant writer who has compiled some awesome and extremely well researched spooky stories about Vermont in a few different books.

The rest of the authors are people who basically share local legends. There is a lot of 'haunted bridge here' and 'haunted train tracks there' kinds of things, and many stories about how you can 'sometimes' hear someone moaning or something at a lake at midnight on Halloween.

Throughout are lame Photoshop pictures of different 'ghosts' who appear to be predominantly the participants of a community college drama class who volunteered to be photographed in a number of scary poses in front of a green screen one afternoon. They're then badly edited into a number of cheesy backgrounds and are filtered until they look see-through or blurry or bloody or what have you.

A number of the stories are told without any apparent regard for witnesses. For example, one story says that a hermit could hypnotize rattlesnakes with his flute or something and would go up and shoot the snakes up on a mountain and would sell them at the local trading post for their skins. But then one day his flute didn't work on them and their eyes turned red and they hypnotized him and he couldn't reach for his gun and his body was found several days later, dead by snake bites, and everyone said 'why didn't he use his gun'?

So...who witnessed that story, to fill in the details on the red snake eyes and such? Did he have a hermit friend who maintained a safe distance from this scene, but was close enough to see what color the beady little snake eyes were? Did he have hermit binoculars? Did one of the snakes talk? Did the hermit psychically send a vision to a local medium?

Also, the normal haunted house stories all tend to skip over the most interesting parts. Like, they'll spend 3 pages talking about hearing footsteps and a feeling of being watched, and then it's "Other odd things happened as well. Once I fell asleep and woke up on my neighbor's roof, and the sky was purple and I could see into the future. Another time a strangely fascinating face appeared at my window and told me bizarre things. But scariest of all was the time that [something really boring and not scary] happened, which I'll go into a ton of detail on." Constantly. Why not fill us in on the awesome parts that you skipped over? Who the heck is editing this thing?

Overall, not a terrible read, but a shallow and 'non-filling' read. Some moderately interesting stuff but not enough to justify the time and effort required to read it all and filter it out.


Hillary said...

I've found that ghost books are either one extreme or the other. They're either mediocre and boring, or terrifying and interesting.

Christian said...

Have you finished WIll Storr yet?