Review: Ghostland, An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Just because October has come and gone, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to emulate Wednesday Addams, okay?

I’ll admit, Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places was solely a cover buy for me. After purchasing it, however, I was intrigued about a book guiding the reader through the supernatural past of a country.

Did Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places earn a place in my History of Books? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

9781101980200Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Publisher:  Viking Books (October 4, 2016)

Print Length: 320 pages

Audiobook Length: 10 hrs 48 mins

Narrator: Jon Lindstrom

Colin Dickey is on the trail of America’s ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? His own fascination piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and “zombie homes,” Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. Some have established reputations as “the most haunted mansion in America,” or “the most haunted prison”; others, like the haunted Indian burial grounds in West Virginia, evoke memories from the past our collective nation tries to forget.

With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living–how do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes to those facts are made–and why those changes are made–Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone, crimes left unsolved. Spellbinding, scary, and wickedly insightful, Ghostland discovers the past we’re most afraid to speak of aloud in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.

The Review

While reading Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places I couldn’t help but making a mental note on all the places in America I now have to visit.

This book is definitely an overview of the various places in America set to be handout, and Dickey truly has a way of teasing the information just enough that you go out and buy several more books about the various places visited.

I rather enjoyed the section on everyone’s favourite haunted haunt, Salem Massachusetts. Dickey presented the information, most I have read previously in other books on the subject, in a way that made me reconsider things I thought I knew on the witchiest of towns.

Of course, I also had to mention the section on New Orleans, Louisiana. The only haunts of this city that I know came from my viewing of American Horror Story: Coven, so to actually learn about the history of Delphine LaLaurie and Pere Antoine was both refreshing and eerie.

The section on Detroit, Michigan, was a bold choice for Dickey. He explores how industrial decay as a sort of haunting, and how something doesn’t necessarily have to be old and ruined to have the remnants of a tormented past.

However, if I had to pinpoint the one part of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places that I enjoyed most it is that Dickey’s opinion on ghosts, the supernatural, and the idea of an afterlife are left relatively unknown. Dickey doesn’t care whether or not you are a believer. His book is a way for him to simply  present the history behind the haunting legends and leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not it is true.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase Links

Viking | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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