BY CHRISTOPHER BALZANO OUR RESIDENT MEDIA
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Each month we will feature a
book review of the latest and best paranormal,
spiritual and metaphysical books around. By
none other then the Best Resident Paranormal
Book Reviewer around The Great Christopher
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Lore of the Ghost by Brian Haughton
New Page Books, September 2008
192 pages, $14.99
Brian Haughton knows his stuff. Over the past few years he has gained a reputation as one of the strongest researcher in the field when it comes to odd people, weird places, and the folklore that lives just this side of unexplainable. With his past work he has always made an effort to keep one foot in legitimate history while stretching the possible past with his work in older cultures and text. His new book, Lore of the Ghost, focuses his skills at looking into several of the haunted motifs that form the tales we hear in old ghost stories and that help to mold the true hauntings we hear about from down the street.
Lore of the Ghost suffers from being written by the smartest man in the room. While his previous work has always taken advantage of his knowledge, it becomes a hindrance in Lore. The book looks to explore the origins of many of these ghost stories, but does little to get to heart of them while offering only retellings of them throughout the years. No origins are found. This would be allowable (most legends are impossible to trace to their true origins by their very nature) if Haughton offered some explanations as to why these legends are spread or how they tell us about ourselves. The book offers neither.
What the reader is left with is a collection of legends with no direction. There are still few out there in the publishing world who can tell these stories as well as the author, but he spends too much time jumping from old tale to old tale. Any of his chapters could be an entire book by itself, and with subjects like phantom hitchhikers and black dogs, the reader wants to know more. He does not stay in one long enough to examine it fully before he is on to the next variation. The jumping can become somewhat disorienting, and ultimately the format he uses becomes predicable and a bit boring to read through. American audiences may also eventually tire of the numerous examples of British and European stories while only grazing some of their American counterparts, especially because there are so many of them to be found on this side of the ocean.
Part of the issue arises with the connection between the legends and folklore that are the focus of the book and their true paranormal origins. Haughton does not take a side as to the truth of the tales and yet offers many classic hauntings as proof of the motifs they involve. This will isolate the folklorist and the paranormal enthusiast. While exploring the folklore he misuses or heaps together ghost stories with tales of odd animals and time slips, and other supernatural occurrences.
Brian Haughton still knows how to tell a story, but his skills are wasted here. With his base of information, it feels he sat down and had a conversation with himself and wrote it down. More likely, his latest conference presentation was a bit fleshed out and submitted to the publisher. This book has the feel of being too easy for him, too phoned in, to offer anything truly unique to the reader. Haughton is someone who deserves to be on the paranormal reader’s bookshelf, Lore of the Ghost is just not the book to add.
About Christopher Balzano
Christopher Balzano is now Haunted America Tours resident Book and Media Reviewer. Balzano is the founder and director of Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads, an online collection of legends and ghost stories from Massachusetts and the surrounding states. He has been investigating the paranormal for more than ten years and has been writing about those experiences for the past five. He has been a contributor to Jeff Belanger's Encyclopedia of Haunted Places and Weird Massachusetts and was one of the writers behind Weird Hauntings. His writing has been featured in Haunted Times and Mystery Magazine and has been covered by the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Standard Times, and Worcester Magazine.
Balzano is the author of several books about regional hauntings, including Dark Woods: Cults, Crime, and Paranormal in the Freetown State Forest and Ghosts of the Bridgewater Triangle, as well as the collection of true ghosts stories Ghostly Adventures and the new how-to paranormal book Picture Yourself Ghost Hunting. He has appeared on radio stations in Massachusetts and throughout the Internet, as well as being called upon by television shows to comment on ghosts and urban legends. He now runs the paranormal news from Ghostvillage, one of the oldest and largest websites dedicated to the paranormal.
Please Also see: 20 Questions with Christopher Balzano
BOOKS BY CHRISTOPHER BALZANO
Picture Yourself Ghost Hunting by Christopher Balzano
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|"Picture Yourself Ghost Hunting: Step-by-Step Instruction for Exploring Haunts and Finding Spirits, Spooks, and Specters" introduces novice paranormal explorers to the history, techniques, and equipment used in the search for proof of life after death, or simply, ghosts. Written like a field guide to ghost hunting, the book begins by examining what a ghost is, and isn't, and presents a brief history of ghosts and the pioneers of the ghost hunting field. You'll review what has already been discovered and the tried and true methods and tricks that have been successfully used by seasoned ghost hunters and their outcomes. You'll also take a look at the different types of equipment used to both search for and communicate with ghosts, as well as how to approach the hunt depending on the location. Finally, you'll learn how to assess the evidence that you've gathered and what it all means, and how to avoid the pitfalls that are the stuff of popular ghost legends. Written by an avid and experienced paranormal researcher, "Picture Yourself Ghost Hunting" is filled with firsthand tips and advice, including a 90-minute interactive DVD featuring tutorials and interviews, and is both a reference and a source of helpful inspiration for any aspiring ghost hunter.
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There are certain towns that we all associate with ghost stories and sightings. But creepy encounters happen everyday all throughout this country-in towns that you may never have heard of, to normal people, just like you!
With Ghostly Adventures, you can travel to these terrifying towns and share in the scare. Let ghost guru, Christopher Balzano, be your guide through the jaw-dropping true tales that happen all around the U.S., in places like:
the Boston hotel where old Mr. Parker returns to check on his guests
the lost village of Dudleytown, Connecticut, where all residents vanished without a trace
the Summerwind Mansion in northeast Wisconsin, whose secret compartment housed a man's corpse for years
Terrifying true tales and frightening facts come together to create hours of eerie entertainment that you can read on your own or out loud with friends. With Ghostly Adventures, you can stop just wondering about ghosts and get to know them yourself!
Christopher Balzano: is a teacher and folklorist. He has been investigating the unknown for twelve years and is currently running the Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads website. His writing has appeared in The Haunted Times, Mystery Magazine, as well as Unexplained Paranormal Magazine. His investigations have been covered by The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Standard Times, and Worchester Magazine. Balzano lives in Boston, MA.
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Throughout its long history, Freetown, Massachusetts, has been a hotbed of criminal and supernatural occurrences in the town's State Forest. This is the first account of how its darker side connects hauntings with violent crime and local cults. Native American ghosts roam here and evil lurks, making the forest a haven for nasty creatures (the Pukwudgies). A witch looks for favors from young men, satan cults thrive, and killers kill. Read first-hand accounts from police officials and criminals about the forest. Learn why hauntings continue today. Many come here to enjoy the beauty of Freetown State Forest; these are the stories of those who cannot leave.
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