The older the place, the more likely it is to have seen bloodshed and tragedy. While the United States has its share of haunted activity, one must remember that it, as a country, is relatively young. Going back to Europe, Asia, and other places on the other side of the world is a stark reminder of just how young a country America is. While we have ghosts-a-plenty on our own soil, think about the lands that are our seniors.
Following the format and style of its predecessor (see review here), Haunted Encounters: Ghost Stories from Around the World contains fifty stories by normal people who have touched the ethereal realm in some way or another. Each writer has his or her own unique style, ranging from eloquent to conversational. Included at the end of each story is a photo and brief biography of the author, revealing that all of them lead “normal” lives. None went in search of the ghosts they encountered.
There is also a wide variety in the types of hauntings listed in this book. Many of the stories make the restless souls seem sympathetic, even tragic, as fits the circumstances surrounding their deaths. Others are comforting presences or protective of the families who encountered them. But there are those in this volume that come across as nothing less than horrific and will leave the reader clutching a blanket in a well-lit room.
The only weakness in this volume comes from a few of the stories that could be easily explained. Several accounts sound like nothing more than bad dreams while others deal more with nighttime paranoia than paranormal visitors. While those who tell the stories “just know” something was watching them, a skeptical mind can find external causes or rational explanations. Those stories, however, are a small percentage of the total with the majority giving over to tales of the truly macabre.
Of the fifty stories, stand-outs include Scotland’s “The Kiss,” England’s “The Poltergeist,” Japan’s “The Haunting Shadow,” Germany’s “Looking For a New House,” Italy’s “A Venice Ghost Story,” and “Serenading a Ghost” by an American visiting Ireland. Taken on the whole, this collection is a must-have for any fan of ghost stories.
Haunted Encounters: Ghost Stories from Around the World
Edited by Ginnie Siena Bivona, Mitchel Whitington, and Dorothy McConachie
Atriad Press, 2004
4 out of 5