A collection of real-life spooky tales of an old Kentucky neighborhood.
You know that a collection of paranormal tales is doing its job when you become just the tiniest bit reluctant to read it after dark. Technically, food writer Dominé’s (True Ghost Stories and Eerie Legends from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood, 2014, etc.) memoir is more ghost-suggestive than ghost-specific—that is, no actual apparitions appear. Still, it may send tingles up readers’ spines. La Casa Fabulosa is the name that Dominé gave to a six-bedroom, three-story Victorian fixer-upper; he and his boyfriend moved into it in 1999. Located in a slowly gentrifying area of Louisville, his new home offered all sorts of fanciful period touches, including intertwining pillars and dragonlike gargoyles. It also had pictures that spontaneously fell from the walls and unexplained sounds of footsteps or an occasional moan. Dominé mostly opts for a rational view of the spooky goings-on—an old house settling or an electrical mishap caused by ancient wiring. But he still investigated the phenomena in ways that may seem foolhardy to readers who don’t like wandering alone in big, old houses. Soon, he was exploring the other oddities that abounded in his colorful neighborhood. The author eventually discovered the legend of the Witches’ Tree and met transient Romani people, drug addicts, cross-dressers, sewer-dwelling hoboes, a mysterious character called the Stick Witch, and an elusive voodoo queen. Dominé knows how to string readers along; he typically starts with something heard happening somewhere else: “One night, a strange metallic clanging and rattling woke me from a deep sleep around half past three. Ghosts?” The book’s biggest flaw, though, is that he doesn’t know when to stop. After the umpteenth event, readers may think that Dominé should have simply assumed that something “unexplained” was actually something mundane. Still, the author does so much so well that most readers won’t mind. Consider how much information (and tone) he packs into just one sentence: “I had read about documented cases of weirdness where strange things, including coal, frogs and strips of meat—such as during the famous ‘Kentucky Meat Shower’ of March 3, 1876—had fallen from the sky, and I now wondered if Widmer House was spitting things at me to get my attention.”
An enjoyable memoir that will likely give readers goose bumps.