Tuesday, October 27, 2009
If you're looking to travel somewhere this Halloween week, why not head to a haunted house? I received a book to review that's perfect for Halloween: the Encyclopedia of Haunted Places, compiled and edited by Jeff Belanger. He's the founder of Ghostville.com and a noted paranormal investigator who has appeared as a paranormal expert on many television programs, including The History Channel, The Travel Channel, and more. Here's what I thought of the book:
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places lists down a number of haunted houses around the world. Most of them are in the US and Canada, but there is a section for haunted places in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Oceania, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. Each place is accompanied by a brief description of the place, the haunted history behind it, and a description of some of the paranormal activities that have been observed there.
Here's what the publishers have to say about the book:
The Encyclopedia of Haunted Places is the first directory to be written by dozens of the world's leading paranormal investigators. Research notes, location background, first-hand accounts, and many anomalous photographs featuring ghostly manifestations comprise the hundreds of haunted listings in this directory. For years, paranormal investigative groups have been studying their local ghosts with scientific equipment as well as with more esoteric methods, such as psychics and sÃ©ances. This directory is a repository of some of their most profound cases. From across the United States, Canada, and many spots around the globe, ghost investigators tell of their sometimes harrowing experiences, share their research, and give readers an overview of both well-known and obscure haunted locales. From private residences to inns and restaurants, battlefields to museums and libraries, graveyards to churches, The Encyclopedia of Haunted Places will offer supernatural tourists a guide to points of interest through the eyes of the ghost hunters. This reference also offers names, addresses, phone numbers, and Web addresses to each location covered. Feeling brave? You may just want to stop and visit some ghosts on your next trip.
Despite all the horror flicks out there, there's nothing quite as thrilling or scary as a real ghost story, and this one has dozens. Like any encyclopedia, this isn't meant to be read from cover to cover in one sitting -- I like leafing through the book and reading whatever catches my eye. I especially love the stories told by the ghost hunters (or as they are officially called, paranormal investigators) featured in the book. We also had a fun time looking to see if we had actually been to any of the places listed in the book, or if we were familiar with them (Alfie has been to a couple of them in Australia and in England).
Best of all, I was thrilled to see that a couple of places in the Bay Area made it into this book -- the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and the Oakland Bay Bridge. I've never been to the Winchester Mystery House and I've felt no hurry to visit, because I've always thought it was just a tourist trap. Now that Jeff says the place is really haunted I might actually change my mind. And I don't think I'm ever going to cross the Bay Bridge again without feeling a shiver and a tingle!
I'm not sure why the photos in this book are so limited in quantity, quality and size. Most of them are small, underexposed black and white photos. I wondered if perhaps they were taken as proof of paranormal occurrences, but other than a few dots of light, I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary in any of those photos. Large, colored photos of some of the haunted places would have made this book much more appealing to browse through, even if the photos didn't have anything ghostly in them.
The Bottom Line
If you want to send a few shivers down your spine, Encyclopedia of Haunted Places makes for a great Halloween nighttime read! It's also a fun travel guide for anyone looking to visit a haunted house.
I received a sample in order to review this product, but no monetary compensation. Unless otherwise stated, the views and opinions expressed here are my own.