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 Norman and Scott (Haunted America, 1994, etc.) scare up yet another spiritless collection of eerie goings-on across the USA and Canada. In his foreword to this volume, which is organized alphabetically, state by state, Norman offers that ``in some cases . . . a modern visitor might expect to encounter the phantoms you'll read about in these pages. . . . Other stories are purely historical and the ghosts have probably departed for parts unknown.'' How convenient! Forget that many of this work's dubious events and testimonials are substantiated by such ``authorities'' as the ever-handy ``several prominent psychics,'' or ``one witness'' who ``swore he saw a Hessian soldier'' in the 1960s. This book's fatal flaw is its ne'er-flagging reliance on suspension of disbelief as the central narrative device. Indeed, the authors do their damnedest to spook readers, and they very nearly succeed in Alaska's entry, in which an elderly Inuit woman mutilates herself as a tactic to frighten her unruly grandsons into good behavior. However, for the most part, the storiesa couple who are run off from their Michigan dream home by a shotgun-totin' specter, rehearsing Broadway actors who hear ``strange noises''come off like hokey campfire scare-ums. Haunted mansions, ominous fog banks, spooky deserted roads, deranged widows, even Blackbeard's treasurenothing is too cheesy for inclusion in this collection of urban myths, old wives tales, and crackerbarrel pontificating. The only real fright in this book is that Norman (Scott died in 1994) might have enough material left over to add another volume to the Haunted series. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85752-7
Page count: 446pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995


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