Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey [in Library Journal]
Colin Dickey (Afterlives of the Saints) cites a statistic that 45 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, and 30 percent profess to have had firsthand encounters. Such undying fascination means there was no shortage of stories to choose from when Dickey spent several years traveling the country, listening to ghosts, and compiling, researching, even debunking plenty of not-so-supernatural tales.
Through mansions, hotels, brothels, graveyards, and beyond, Dickey follows undead souls – revealing many kept alive through embellishment, even fiction, including the House of the Seven Gables (it had nine) and the “real” Annabel Lee (she didn’t exist). His final section on “ruin porn,” including New Orleans and Detroit, is especially haunting.
With the supernatural as big business – ghost tours, ghost hunting, reality shows, societies – Dickey also reminds listeners to do their research. Regardless of whether you believe, Dickey reveals how ghost stories are more about the history they harbor and the living who tell (and sell) them.
Verdict: Librarians and listeners, be warned: Jon Lindstrom’s narration is serviceable enough, but his insertion of unnecessary accents proves so jarring, even inappropriate, that patrons may be better advised to stick to the page.