In time for Halloween, Prince Michael of Greece (Sultana, 1983) presents the dilettantish findings of his spirit-hunting. As...

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LIVING WITH GHOSTS: Eleven Extraordinary Tales

In time for Halloween, Prince Michael of Greece (Sultana, 1983) presents the dilettantish findings of his spirit-hunting. As a storyteller, Prince Michael is frankly out of his league, at least when compared to such writers as M.R. James and Sheridan LeFanu, or even such true believers as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Accompanied by a photographer friend (whose work provides an atmospheric backdrop for the narrative), Prince Michael does some amateur psychic research in a stately home in England, a castle in Spain, a Russian palace, a chateau in France, and a manor in Ireland, among other ostensibly ghostly sites. While he hears tales of transparent women, lost treasures, evil presences, and things going bump in the night, the paranormal vibrations he invariably picks up tell different stories. Unfortunately, those stories--all told in the first person by female spirits, with Prince Michael as the medium/amanuensis--usually involving forbidden love affairs, smack of the historical romance with traces of New Age religiosity. The most eminent of these narrators is Czarina Maria Feodorovna, the dyspeptic daughter-in-law of Catherine the Great, whose spirit hovers about the restored Palace of Pavlovsk, brooding over her assassinated husband. Most of the spirits Prince Michael contacts are noblewomen, such as the sadistic medieval figure who inhabited the sinister ChÆ’teau de Niedzica, or the Irish Lady Claire of Doneraile Court. All the stories fall flat after the eerie backdrop is parted. Without a trace of irony, the author observes, ""Of course ghosts are real, but those who believe in them too passionately, and imagine they sense their presence everywhere end up by creating them from scratch."" Prince Michael quickly spoils the spooky atmosphere with genre novel scenarios and New Age effects.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1996

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996