Mistress of Death Review: ‘Haunted America FAQ’

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cover73516-mediumWhen I began <Haunted America FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Most Haunted Houses, Cemeteries, Battlefields, and More, I was traveling cross-country to a new home. Excited by the prospect of a new book on hauntings, I found myself reading through the pages as I rested in hotels, as well as during a recent plane trip across country and attempting to scare myself silly in the process. Dave Thompson’s new book is filled with short snippets of hauntings across the United States and brief discussions of histories related to the creepier places in the United States. The book also includes an A-Z of reality-TV ghost hunts.

One of the fascinating features of Haunted America FAQ is a group of quick snippets on ghosts from each state in the United States entitled the Ghostly Gazetteer. Dave Thompson records about one sentence per instance, with several to a state. I would have loved to see these fleshed out a bit more, as often that one sentence was more interesting than some of the longer ghost stories one reads elsewhere. I kept muttering under my breath “but what was the backstory.”

In truth, I wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t. Factual inaccuracies were in several places in the book, including a statement that Lincoln was not embalmed. Lincoln was in fact the poster child for the embalming movement and pretty much uses as an advertisement for the service! This is also coupled with the fact that the most famous quote from Poltergeist “They’re Here” was replaced with “They’re Back.” Now, for those folks who haven’t spent as much time reading about death and watching horror movies as I have, these mistakes are easy to miss and ignore. In fact, Dave Thompson goes so far as to write an entire passage in the book about how folks don’t want facts about ghosts, they want stories. True, we love stories, but fact-checking would have been nice for basic details.

Haunted America FAQ is a fun guide for folks with a casual interest in ghosts and ghost stories, but likely will have serious ghost hunters rolling their eyes a time or two.

Haunted America FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Most Haunted Houses, Cemeteries, Battlefields, and More is available now from Hal Leonard Publishers.

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