The Eleventh Shelf: Beliefs II – Ghosts, Poltergeists, and Apparitions – Introduction by Mike

Wouldn’t the world be dull if everything was predictable? That’s as true of the world in a pulp game as it is of the so-called objective reality that surrounds us. And from the cracks and crannies of what is usually a reasonably logical and predictable world, strange things can slither forth to challenge our perceptions of reality.

A ghost implies that something persists beyond death, and – given sufficient motivation or an external interdiction of sufficient force – the afterlife to which a spirit should be condemned / released can be denied, leaving that something to wander the Earth, interacting with the living.

This is a situation pregnant with profound moral and theological issues. If the ghost lingers for a morally-positive reason, does this nevertheless constitute a sin (denying the will of God)? If the ghost lingers for a morally-neutral or darker motive, such as revenge, are they condemned to damnation when eventually released?

Our conceptions of right and wrong have only limited grasp on the choices of action after death. And that puts characters who ten to try and do the right thing, the moral thing, in a bit of a spot when they are confronted by such spirits. When the Spectre was rebooted by DC Comics in the late 70s, this was the territory that they began to explore; a murdered policeman who was sent back to earth to bring his killers to justice, from the moment of this reboot he became an absolutist in dealing with those who thought they had gotten away with the ultimate crime, that of relieving another of their life. Sadly, the series came to an end after only about six issues, and before the creative team could really get into the implications of what they had created. The Spectre went back to being just another mystic heavy who wasn’t afraid to kill if he considered that just.

But there’s a great deal of similarity between that Spectre and a pulp character once one overlooks the outré means by which he inflicted justice. While a pulp PC should avoid killing his enemies unless left no other choice, he is still perfectly capable of doing so if there is an imminent threat to others and no other way of ending it.

As soon as you introduce a ghostly presence into a pulp campaign, then, all those moral and theological question-marks begin to swirl around in the background. They can be ignored for a time, but eventually, they will surface. Because an afterlife, and the ability to deny it, even if only temporarily, gets to the heart of what is right – and that’s something that is at the heart of any Pulp adventure. Its their morals that restrict and define the PCs, that pose a challenge for them to overcome.

But, even beyond that, it’s fun to rattle a PC’s cage every now and then… The first adventure that Blair and I collaborated on revolved around a Ghost Ship, first exposing it as a clever fraud, and culminating in an encounter that raised all the question marks over whether or not the phenomenon was real, all over again.

And that’s the space in which ghosts should operate in a Pulp campaign – trapped between plausibility and not, confined between the supernatural and the merely strange. The place defined, in fact, by Edgar Alan Poe’s The Tell-tale Heart, one of the earliest “modern” ghost stories.

The especially observant may have noticed that what was one shelf devoted to the weirder side of human beliefs (from a mainstream pulp-era perspective)

Up until the last possible moment (and some distance beyond, if I’m honest) it was the intent to get Beliefs finished with one monster post. But the workload involved was so high that it would not have been possible to post it until Saturday, maybe Sunday. One day late I’m happy to live with; three or four is just too far.

What happened?

The shelf became a monster, which in a way, is strangely appropriate, given the content. It contained more than 240 recommendations, which would have made it the second-biggest to date (the prize-holder would still be Shelf 5, with 269 recommendations). That’s roughly six times the size that it was originally projected to be, when the taxonomy was laid out.

There are two very good reasons for this: First, the late discovery of a number of series of books, some of which have now been extracted into their own subsections; and second, the very high degree of crossover between the different sections, which made it almost-impossible to subdivide the shelf into more manageable chunks. Take the regional myths and legends – some are True Crime, some are rumors, some are Cryptozoology, some are superstitions, some are myths and legends, and some are extracts from indigenous religious beliefs – all within the one book.

Editorially, I had done my best to slot things into a logically-progressive sequence, but that sequence has been twisted very strangely by the late decision. Don’t only look in the section devoted to any particular subject of interest over these two shelves or you will miss a LOT of potentially-valuable references.

Case in point: This shelf now covers ghosts and hauntings. Urban Legends are in the newly-created next shelf. Yet, many of those urban legends relate to hauntings, apparitions, and ghostly encounters, so if you only look here, you’ll miss out on a LOT of good material.

This last-minute reorganization has also delayed publication until Friday – the 13th, no less – which, given the subject matter, is also strangely appropriate. It’s almost as though it were predestined to play out this way…

Relevance to other genres

We can’t think of any subject more ubiquitous to RPGs, regardless of genre, than this one. Where would D&D be without it’s strange beasts? Where would Star Trek be without it’s not-quite-humans? Where would a James Bond RPG be without secret organizations? Well, Bond would be unemployed, for a start!

There really is something for everyone on this shelf. Or at least there would be, were it still intact. As it stands, most of the content touched on in that opening paragraph relates to material now dispatched to the newly-created 12th shelf.

Does that mean that what’s left has no value to the non-pulp GM? Not at all! Any genre can use a good ghost story – and that’s most of what’s here, post-split.

ghost reader

This image combines books 1 by / debora prado with public domain clip art.
Click on the image to see it full-size.

Shelf Introduction

We have divided this duo of shelves into seven sections and twelve subsections. Some of them are very small, with only one or two entries; others are vast. But most of them will have to wait until next week, and the new twelfth shelf. I have deliberately chosen to preserve the section numbering that was added to clarify the relationship between sections and subsections unchanged – which is why this article jumps from “1” to “6”.

sections “2”, “3”, “4”, “5” and “7” – almost exactly half the article – will be found on the twelfth shelf.

1. Leftover Mythology and Religion – We start this shelf with a handful (plus one) of items that should have appeared on the previous one but which were misfiled for one reason or another, or which have come to our attention since the last shelf was published.

6 Ghosts, Poltergeists, etc – Ghostly phenomena were always going to be part of this shelf, and many of the Regional Myths and Legends relate to ghostly experiences. We’ve tried hard to broaden this section beyond the US.

6.1 Documentaries about Ghosts – the plural is misleading, but we do have one that we’re recommending.

6.2 Haunted Regional Britain – The series that was [will be] collected as “Regional Myths and Legends” led to a few new additions to the Regional Cryptozoology, and then Mike turned his attention to attempting to expand the “Regional Myths” beyond the US, in the course of which he discovered the series that has been compiled (with a few extras) into this section. There was no time to review the content of these at all, and no space in the article, so we’ve simply provided bare-bones information on price and availability for most of them. Unless you’re running a UK-based campaign, we recommend only picking one of these up when you know that it is going to be specifically-relevant. But the counter-argument is that many of these are in short supply, and if you wait, they might all be gone…

A Recurring Note On Images:

Wherever possible, we have provided an illustration showing the cover of the book or DVD under discussion scaled to the same vertical size (320 pixels for Recommended Books, 280 for DVDs, 240 for items in the ‘For Dummies’ Sections). Where there was none available, we have used a generic icon.

Decoding the “Availability” Comments

It may surprise readers to learn that these aren’t mere flavor that has been added to create a sense of the availability of items we are recommending. We have guidelines – sometimes overlooked or honored more in the breach than the observance, but they are there, nevertheless.

  • “Slightly Limited” generally means 18-20 copies.
  • “Limited” generally means 11-17 copies but can also be used as a generic term for under twenty, especially if there is a great disparity in prices (in which case it will usually be accompanied by the qualifier “cheap” or “affordable”).
  • “Very Limited” means 6-10 copies.
  • “Extremely Limited” means five or less copies, in which case we will usually specify exactly how many there are.
  • “Ample” or “Plentiful” or “Abundant” or any similar terminology sometimes means thirty or more affordably-priced copies, sometimes means fifty or more copies available, and sometimes means triple digit availability.
  • If we haven’t said anything, that means that there were at least 20 copies available and most if not all will be under our $20 cap.

Of course, most of the time, if there are fewer than twenty copies at or under our price cap, or close to it, we won’t list the product at all, but sometimes one format or another will be restricted in quantities.

Prices and Availability were correct at the time of compilation.


Leftover Books About Mythology and Religion

With the exception of the first item on the list, these were all misfiled in our notes. It was tempting to simply forget about them, but there’s too much potential value – and relevance to the overall topic to be ignored.

Spacer Myths and Mysteries of the World

919. Myths and Mysteries of the World (Book & DVD) (Gift Folder DVD) – Parragon Books

A book and DVD in a bundle? Where do we file this? The book is 256 pages, and at almost 8 inches by 10 inches, more of a “softcover” than a “paperback” as we normally consider the term. There’s no indication of the length of the DVD, but it’s long enough to cover 25 topics, however briefly – so even 3 minutes to a topic gives something on the order of an hour and a quarter, and it only goes up from there. On that basis, it’s hard to elevate one component of this package above the other.

Breaking the deadlock came down to this: a DVD is hard to reference during play, but a “highly illustrated book” can be pulled off the shelf and used to illustrate something, or simply answer a quick question. That makes the book component ever-so-slightly more useful for our purposes.

And so, to the content: this compilation looks at basic questions of history that are sometimes controversial even today. “What secrets lie hidden in the pyramids? Is Teotihuacan really a city modeled on the cosmos? Who built Stonehenge, and what was it used for? Did the ancient world develop sophisticated technology? Are there people with X-ray eyes?” That’s everything from archeology to mythology and religion to fortean beliefs to cryptids. The cover implies that we can add crop circles and dragons to that list. So maybe it’s found its way to the right shelf, after all!

16 used copies from $0.13 (DVD may be missing, check specifics carefully) and 4 new from $16.75.


World Mythology 2nd Edition

920. World Mythology 2nd Edition – Donna Rosenberg

This volume offers 59 of the world’s great myths including selections from The Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, King Arthur, and Quetzalcoatl. Each is accompanied by an introduction that offers historical background and suggested avenues for literary analysis. In other words, this treats myths as “stories” – not the approach that is most conducive to RPG functionality, but better than nothing. What’s more, there’s a subtle difference between “mythology” (implying a system or coherence of common social origins) and a “myth” in isolation, at least to our mind – though we may be nitpicking, the title nevertheless seems to promise more than the book delivers.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that what it does deliver seems to be very well done, including an extensive notes section and carefully curated bibliography. Some reviewers love this book, others are less convinced. The author has censored the myths to something that would be appropriate for younger teens, removing any hint of sexual content from the myths. Some can survive that treatment, but many are decimated by the omission. There is also little attempt to inject color and life into the text. In short, this is a passable reference work with serious shortcomings.

The fact that we’re looking for RPG reference materials here transforms many of those criticisms into potential assets. Presentation of a more “G-rated” version of the myths makes them more suitable for use in a public application, or with younger players, and gives the GM the freedom to re-insert whatever level of sexuality he feels appropriate for his ‘audience’. The lifeless, dry text means that the GM can decide what the color should be and how to express it – even hitting different beats within different campaigns. The same base text could yield very different interpretations when applied to a high-school D&D campaign and a more mature-player Pulp campaign even by the same GM, for example. What we (ideally) want is a reasonable reference work that lets us inject our own creativity into the mix – and this actually comes pretty close to that mark. Just don’t take this as the definitive word on any of the myths presented – check Wikipedia at the very least!

584 pages, paperback; 33 new from $7.46, 90 used from $0.01 – so clearly the criticisms have had an impact on the prices. Which means that you can probably afford to buy this book and any value that you can get from it will be sufficient to justify the purchase.


Stuff You Missed in History Class

921. Stuff You Missed in History Class: A Guide to History’s Biggest Myths, Mysteries, and Marvels –

“From the hosts of’s popular podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class, comes a crash course in world history. Featuring the best of HSW’s content and packed with quizzes, trivia, and more, this books explores the craziest scandals, myths, lies, and crimes the human record has to offer.”
272 page paperback, 30 used from $0.24, 31 new from $5.18.


The Enigmas of History

922. The Enigmas of History: Myths, Mysteries & Madness from Around the World – Alan Baker

“History is replete with unanswered questions regarding rumored past events, objects, and cultures that often turn into the stuff of legends.” This book takes 31 of them and gives a brief overview of each.

There’s a chapter on Lovecraft, and one on the Amazons, and another on El Dorado. Stigmata and Black Madonnas and Atlantis and…. let’s just say that there’s a wide coverage.

You don’t have to look very hard at this book to discover that there are a lot of very critical opinions of it, despite Amazon’s 5-star rating (from just one review).

Goodreads rates it about three-and-a-half, and has reviews that are scathing. Google Books only has one, but it’s even more harsh in it’s criticism, and gives the book only two stars out of five.

So don’t expect too much from what initially appears to be a most promising source. (That, incidentally, is why we consider 5 reviews to be an absolute minimum for reliability and 10 to be the minimum for any sort of confidence in a book’s rating).

Having reported all that, there are sections in this book that cover subjects that, to the best of our knowledge, aren’t dealt with by any other source we have listed. However poor, something is always better than nothing and so this makes the list even though it doesn’t meet our availability standards by a margin of about 5 copies.

Hardcover, 304 pages; 13 used from $1.85, 5 new from $18.95.

One final word of warning, buying this from Amazon direct “usually ships in 1-2 months”.

Myths & Mysteries of the First World War

923. Myths & Mysteries of the First World War – Leonard James

My goodness, that title sounds tantalizing, doesn’t it? Relax; that’s as good as this book gets. There are some ghost stories, a couple of true-adventure stories, and a pronounced absence of anything of greater substance. That said, if you’re looking for something to spice up the background of some military officer or enlisted man from the First World War – and every pulp GM should be – this could be the perfect resource. And it’s one of the very few books available on the subject. Search Amazon using the title as your term and you find this book (two different listings), a couple of books about Canadians in WWI, and a lot of irrelevancies – ranging from The Fellowship Of The Ring to a history of the Catholic Church on Audio CD. Beggars can’t be choosers…

Available on Kindle ($3.05) or 144-page Paperback (12 new from $5.55, no used copies):

Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries - Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

924. Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology 9th edition – Kenneth Feder

This is the first book Mike has ever seen that has 9 editions with different covers for each. The cover he’s chosen to represent them all is the 4th, not because it’s the most visually attractive (it’s not) but because that’s the edition that best matches our availability criteria.

Be very careful what links you click on in the Amazon pages devoted to the book, it’s very easy to find yourself down the rabbit hole of looking at a completely different edition to the one you had, and the “back” button won’t always save you.

And so, to the content. “Frauds, myths, and supposed mysteries about humanity’s past are moving targets for anyone committed to the scientific investigation of human antiquity. It is important for anyone interested in the human past to know, for example, that there is no evidence for a race of giant human beings in antiquity and no broken shards of laser guns under Egyptian pyramids. Debunking such nonsense is fun and useful in its own way, but more important is the process by which we determine that such claims are bunk.” “This is the only textbook for a course of this sort.” This is, in other words, a splash of the cold waters of reality and reason after all the less-credible material in this section and before the even vaster deluge that is still to come.

9th edition: not released until February 1st of 2017. 352 page paperback, $49.95. For which reason, we don’t recommend the 9th edition.

8th Edition: 416 page paperback, 7 new from $94 and 41 used from $59.98 – for which reason, the 8th edition isn’t recommended either.

7th Edition: 416 page paperback, 7 new from $54.99, 50 used from $17.89 – so this meets our criteria.

6th edition (described as a “book supplement”) 387 pages, paperback, 3 new from $12.99, 12 used from $0.14. If there were more copies available, this would get our recommendation (it certainly has the prettiest cover).

4th Edition (pictured): 352 pages, paperback, 8 new from $24.93, 57 used from $0.01, 1 collectible from $9.85. Which makes this our recommended option, with the 6th edition in reserve.

3rd Edition: 320 pages, paperback, 17 used from $16.14, 16 new from $55.63. Our third choice only, because of the page count.


Books about Ghosts, Poltergeists, Hauntings, etc

We were quite disappointed to find that the only books on the haunts of France and Germany that we could find were Kindle-only editions. In fact, we had to bend our usual criteria to be able to include something on Canada, and that ‘something’ is about as anecdotal as it gets. Similarly, we had trouble finding good choices on Scotland, Wales, and Ireland – either there weren’t enough copies, or they were far too expensive, or both, or something about the book raised alarm bells, or it simply failed to sufficiently excite us (That was, until the series we’ve listed as “The Haunted Regional Britain collection” came to our attention). If we wouldn’t buy it for our own use (or haven’t done so already), it doesn’t deserve a place on this list – even if that leaves topics with incomplete coverage. But if someone knows of one or more good books on the ghosts and hauntings of Canada, Australia, Asia, Africa, or Continental Europe, we’d love to add them to the list!

Empire Ghosts

925. Empire Ghosts: New York State’s Haunted Landmarks – Lynda Lee Macken

There are hundreds of ghost stories set in the state of New York. This collection gathers some of the most notable tales of hauntings, from hotels, restaurants, museums, theaters and resorts to ancient forts, historic landmarks and private mansions. Stories are often accompanied by brief commentaries, but the reported events themselves are the central focus, related in a light, conversational style. Paperback, 75 pages, 14 used from $0.01, 16 new from $1.99, 2 Collectible from $6.92.


Ghosts & Haunted Houses of Maryland

926. Ghosts & Haunted Houses of Maryland – Trish Gallagher, illustrated by Howard Burns

Twenty-five of the most fascinating paranormal / supernatural tales from a state awash with “ghosts, haunted houses, and things that go bump in the day as well as the night”. This book was written back in 1988, when the ghost-craze was just beginning; there are times when this dates the text. One reviewer states, “…many of the books coming out today aren’t worth the ectoplasm that it might take to slime a gnat. I am happy to report however that this book has stood the test of time very well and is much superior to many of the books that have followed in it’s ghostly footsteps.” and others echo the sentiment with less panache.
95 pages, of which only about 80 contain text.

Haunted Florida

927. Haunted Florida: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Sunshine State (Haunted Series) – Cynthia Thuma and Catherine Lower

There are at least three different series of books collecting ghost stories from this continental state or the other. So far as we can tell, none of these series contain entries for every state; in this series or that, there are states without entries, while some states are represented by multiple choices of series.

While not even striving to be comprehensive in our listings, merely representative of the most interesting choices, where multiple options came to our attention, we have done our best to select the offering that seemed most useful to us, guided by our usual price / availability criteria, and by both the number and overall rating of reviews. Page count ranked a lowly fifth in our considerations. In many cases. these choices were subjective or even instinctive (and when in doubt, we list both); we mention this to facilitate readers taking the alternatives into consideration.

Which brings us to this book and the subject of haunted locations in Florida. At 112 pages, it’s substantially longer than most such books (compare with the New York and Maryland books listed previously). One of the coauthors is a native of the state in question, and one reviewer has commented favorably on its completeness of coverage.

Available in both Kindle ($7.49) and Paperback format (28 used copies at $1.81, 24 new from $5.39).

Haunted Ohio

928. Haunted Ohio: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Buckeye State (Haunted Series) – Charles A Stansfield, Jr

If there’s one state that seems to be ghost central in the USA, it’s Ohio. There is even a five volume standalone set dedicated to the subject (also named “Haunted Ohio”)! To be honest, this book seems to have a lower value-for-money quotient than the alternative listed below, but the specific contents described were too tantalizing to ignore: “Dead presidents, swamp monsters, and spying spaceships… the phantom in Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery who perches atop his tombstone, the pitiful spirits of the Millfield miners, the fearsome ghost of boatman Mike Fink, and many more”.
Kindle ($7.50) and 112-Page Paperback (28 used from $2.48, 18 new from $6.25).

Ghosthunting Ohio

929. Ghosthunting Ohio – John B Kachuba (America’s Haunted Road Trip series)

More than 25 haunted places are described by the author who reportedly visited them all first-hand. Adding to the appeal of this volume is that each report is accompanied by a map and travel information, even though some of the latter may either be out-of-date or not relevant in the Pulp Era.
Kindle ($9.37) and 256 page Paperback (40 used from $2.02, 36 new from $3.92, 1 Collectible at $7.99).

Old Ghosts of New England

930. Old Ghosts of New England: A Traveler’s Guide to the Spookiest Sites in the Northeast – C J Fusco

“By State” isn’t the only way these series are organized. Some, like this one, deal with entire regions. As with “Haunted Ohio”, it was the specific contents described that compelled inclusion: “…traveler’s guide to the many purportedly haunted inns, restaurants, lighthouses, pubs, museums, parks, graveyards, and schools in the New England states – as well as a few of the region’s most infamous haunted houses. Painstakingly researched, this book delves deep into the histories of New England’s “old ghosts” and provides pictures, maps, directions and contact information”.
Paperback, 256 pages, 26 used from $7.78, 29 new from $10.21, 2 Collectible from $12.85.

Tales from the Haunted South

931. Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era – Tiya Miles (The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era)

This book is not entirely what you might expect, being less about the haunting “Incidents” and more about the phenomenon of “ghost tours” through plantations, urban manor homes, and cemeteries throughout the American South. “Examining popular sites and stories from these tours, Miles shows that haunted tales routinely appropriate and skew African American history to produce representations of slavery for commercial gain… [highlighting] the most sensationalist and macabre aspects of slavery, from salacious sexual ties between white masters and black women slaves to the physical abuse and torture of black bodies to the supposedly exotic nature of African spiritual practices. Because the realities of slavery are largely absent from these tours, Miles reveals how they continue to feed problematic ‘Old South’ narratives and erase the hard truths of the Civil War era”.

We have real problems with that description – there is a reason we have quoted it so extensively – because logical analysis leads to the conclusion that this book is pro-slavery, i.e. argues that slavery wasn’t as bad as popular perception would have us believe. After all, if the most sensationalist aspects of the institution of slavery – which universally play up the horrors of the practice – ‘feed problematic ‘Old South’ narratives’, as the description implies, it can only be interpreted as a claim by the author that these sensationalist practices are distorting the truth (which they probably are to some extent) and that the truth is counter to the impression created.

Countering this initial impression is the racial background of the author, who is not – as might have been expected from the position implied above, Caucasian – but is in fact Afro-Cherokee and a respected historian, unlikely to be a party to a pro-slavery perspective as a result; and one of the customer reviews, which emphasizes the vivid descriptions of the tours that the author actually undertook as part of her research into the subject.

Not that it’s relevant, or that we are especially privileged to have a more valid opinion, but our take is that sensationalized accounts of the worst practices of slavery represent accounts of how bad things could be, worst case representations of the institution. Logically, there would also be a minority of cases in which the slaves were well-cared for, and treated with dignity and respect (at least in comparison with the social expectations of the day), while the majority lie somewhere in between, suffering a level abuse that only rarely rises to the most sensational accounts; but any abuse is still abuse, and not to be considered acceptable. And that a Pulp Game is definitely the place for sensationalized accounts of absolutely anything to fit right in!

At best, then, this must be recommended with the very strong caveat that it may have its own social axe to grind and may not be what you think you might be buying from the title alone (which is why we have deliberately done as Amazon do, and included the series title in our headline). And why we have discussed the issue so thoroughly.

Kindle ($14.36) or 176-page Hardcover (21 used from $15.62, 33 new from the same price, published by The University of North Carolina Press.

New England's Haunted Lighthouses

932. New England’s Haunted Lighthouses: Guide to New England’s Haunted Lighthouses, Forts and Ships – Theodore Burbank

The third way that collections can be structured is by type of location, and this is an example of this approach. Ghostly Spirits that (allegedly) haunt lighthouses and old forts, and the phantom ships that “sail” the New England waters. Incidents are grouped Geographically, which might be useful.

Available in Kindle ($8.63 and 246-page paperback (9 used from $9.95, 15 new from $11.97

Haunted Boston Harbor

933. Haunted Boston Harbor – Sam Baltrusis (Haunted America)

Not to be confused with the book listed below, which has a very similar title. “Boston Harbor brims with the restless spirits of pirates, prisoners and victims of disease and injustice. Uncover the truth behind the Lady in Black on Georges Island. Learn about the former asylums on Long Island that inspired the movie Shutter Island, and dig up the skeletal secrets left behind by the Woman in Scarlet Robes. From items flying off the shelves at a North End cigar shop to the postmortem cries of tragedy at the centuries-old Boston Light on Little Brewster, author Sam Baltrusis breathes new life into the horrors that occurred in the historic waters surrounding Boston.”

Mike opines that from a sociological perspective, this description offers an insight into why “Ghost Tours” are popular – the sensational stories of hauntings are counter-fables, warnings of the depths and depravities of which humans are capable, and places them in a historical context, offering a point of accessibility to those who find history to be dry reading. They punch up the vividness of history, in other words, while providing vicarious thrills and entertainments.

While not completely convinced of this perspective as the be-all and end-all of the topic, what we can all agree on is that this shows up a second, indirect, source of value in books on the subject to Pulp GMs, and indeed, to GMs of any Genre – Ghost Stories can be used directly, as an encounter for the PCs that does nothing but add some supernatural color; can be used indirectly as templates for encounters of greater relevance to a plotline (while still adding that supernatural color), or even more indirectly as inspiration for villainous acts and motivations that are so dark as to linger in legends of hauntings. The first two, we knew about already; the last is a new thought, even to us.

Kindle ($7.65) and Paperback (144 pages, 14 used from $10.13, 24 new from $10.20).


Ghosts Of Boston

934. Ghosts Of Boston: Haunts Of The Hub – Sam Baltrusis (Haunted America)

We had the previous book on Boston Harbor, shortlisted for inclusion; in the process of gathering links and reviewing the products that we are recommending in these lists, this item popped up and was almost listed as an additional source of the previous volume. Mike spotted the error, fortunately. We’re listing it as much as a reminder to our readers of this peril as for the content itself.

And, of course, it also neatly segues into still another level of series organization – books about the ghosts of a specific city, in this case, Boston (one of a handful of American cities that Mike has actually visited).

As usual, we were more impressed by the specifics included in the content description than we would have been by the generalities employed to describe books in other series. “Boston, Massachusetts, boasts countless stories of the supernatural. Many students at Boston College have encountered an unearthly hound that haunts O’Connell House to this day. Be on the watch for an actor who sits in on rehearsals at Huntington Theater and restless spirits rumored to haunt Boston Common at night. From the Victorian brownstones of Back Bay to the shores of the Boston Harbor Islands … there is hardly a corner of the Hub where the paranormal cannot be experienced”. Furthermore, because they have the same author, it is to be hoped that there is no overlap between this book and the preceding one.

Kindle ($7.69) and 128-page Paperback (19 used from $6.83, 30 new from $6.06).

America's Haunted Universities

935. America’s Haunted Universities: Ghosts that Roam Hallowed Halls – Matthew L Swayne

The combination of stress, freedom from authority, rampaging hormones, over-the-top passions, and an age-bracket that makes everything feel directed at you, personally, makes institutions of later learning especially fertile ground for melodramatic responses to situations, sometimes with tragic outcomes. The surprising thing is not that there are ghosts said to haunt many such institutions, but that they are not even more common.

This particular book has some very mixed reviews, but also has more reviews than most books in this category, and still ends up with a respectable overall average. Much of the criticism complains that the writing is not all that vivid/exciting/thrilling, or that it doesn’t provide enough background details on the backgrounds of the alleged ghosts and, in particular, the circumstances that led to them becoming ‘ghosts’. The praise tends to directly contradict the first complaint, and also focuses on a reasonable degree of comprehensive coverage.

Even if not of direct usage, the book is full of little anecdotes that color and distinguish different institutions, and since these are certain to appear in a pulp campaign from time-to-time, or have analogues in other genres, this book offers value beyond the direct applicability of the legends described within, and more than enough reason to list it.

Kindle ($9.83) and 240-page Paperback (24 used from $3.98, 28 new from $3.62)


Haunted Colleges and Universities

936. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms – Tom Ogden

If the preceding book isn’t quite right for you, this one might be. It lacks the anecdotal color, but that means that it can devote more of its text to the hauntings themselves. “This comprehensive guide contains information on over two hundred colleges and universities around the United States” … “If Haunted Colleges and Universities has a flaw, it is that it overreaches and cannot devote enough space to any one college (although there are certain colleges in the book that have a lot more space devoted to them than others)” …. “you will have to look in the reference section if you want to find a more in-depth examination of each location.” The author’s introduction acknowledges the scope of the problem – instead of two or three dozen entries, he found himself dealing with hundreds of tales of the Paranormal – which provides new perspective on the complaints regarding the preceding book, as well.

Kindle ($9.37), 336-page paperback (25 used from $0.01, 28 New from $8.00).

Haunted Halls

937. Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses – Elizabeth Tucker

Rounding out our triumvirate of campus-oriented ghost collections is this offering. “the first book-length interpretive study of college ghostlore”, which will introduce the reader to stories such as those of “Emory University’s Dooley, who can disband classes by shooting professors with his water pistol; Mansfield University’s Sara, who threw herself down a flight of stairs after being rejected by her boyfriend; and Huntingdon College’s Red Lady, who slit her wrists while dressed in a red robe. Gettysburg College students have collided with ghosts of soldiers, while students at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College have reported frightening glimpses of the Faceless Nun.”

If this book has a flaw, it’s that the content may be less Pulp-usage-friendly than the others listed. “Tucker presents campus ghostlore from the mid-1960s to 2006, with special attention to stories told by twenty-first-century students through e-mail and instant messages. Her approach combines social, psychological, and cultural analysis, with close attention to students’ own explanations of the significance of spectral phenomena. As metaphors of disorder, insanity, and school spirit, college ghosts convey multiple meanings. Their colorful stories warn students about the dangers of overindulgence, as well as the pitfalls of potentially horrifying relationships.” This approach is more pragmatically real-world than others, attempting to look behind the curtain of this subset of urban legends into the reasons the stories are spread and perpetuated and the insights that they offer into campus life rather than simply documenting the legends themselves.

To our way of thinking, that doesn’t diminish its potential value, but instead provides a different kind of value to the GM, a context that helps place all the other sources in this section into perspective.

Available in Kindle ($9.91), Hardcover (too expensive at $48.66+), and Paperback (29 used from $10, 16 new from $20).

Haunted Washington, DC

938. Haunted Washington, DC: Federal Phantoms, Government Ghosts, and Beltway Banshees – Tom Ogden

“Washington, DC can make a legitimate claim to being the most haunted city in America. With its rich history and the parade of passionate, colorful characters that have walked its streets over the past two centuries, it’s amazing the district doesn’t have more ghosts than it already does.”
Kindle ($9.96) and 240-page paperback (20 used from $8.70, 25 new from $9.90).

Haunted Chicago

939. Haunted Chicago: Famous Phantoms, Sinister Sites, and Lingering Legends – Tom Ogden

Amongst the most generic and least exciting product descriptions we’ve found, the mystique of the city of Chicago in the Pulp Era is enough to convince us that there is probably meat in these pages for the Pulp GM (or for the creative GM who runs a fantasy city with a Thieves Guild!) If we hadn’t already listed a couple from this particular author that were rather more promising, we would have given this book a miss; even now, we recommend that you carefully consider the two that follow before settling on this as your choice, unless you are especially budget-challenged.
Kindle ($10) or 304-page paperback (24 used from $4.24, 35 new from $7.68)

The Ghosts Of Chicago

940. The Ghosts Of Chicago: The Windy City’s Most Famous Haunts – Adam Selzer

“Behind the crumbling walls, under the ancient bricks and the nearly forgotten streetcar tracks, the ghosts of Chicago live on. From Resurrection Mary and Al Capone to the Murder Castle of H. H. Holmes and the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln, the spine-tingling sights and sounds of Chicago’s yesteryear are still with us… and so are its ghosts.”

“…dozens of never-before-told firsthand accounts. Take a historical tour of the famous and not-so-famous haunts around town, from the Alley of Death and Mutilation to Satan’s Mile and beyond. Sometimes the real story is far different from the urban legend?and most of the time it’s even gorier.”

Which all sounds excellent to us! We especially like the fact that this book offers the GM a choice that can be made incident-by-incident, either to use the urban legend or the truth behind the legend, depending on which is most colorful and which serves his game purposes better. Twenty customer reviews give this an average of 4.8 out of 5; the most critical review reads “It was interesting. A lot of background info, which made it more interesting. Had some humor, as well, which was good” – and which begs the question of why it was rated only three stars by that reader!

Available in Kindle ($10) or 360-page paperback (17 used from $7.99, 32 new from $9.40).

Haunted New York City

941. Haunted New York City: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Big Apple – Cheri Revai

There are lots of books on this subject, as befits a city of the prominence of NYC. Unfortunately, none of them rates all that highly. This one has more customer reviews than the one below, an average rating of 2.7, and no five-star ratings. Which, unfortunately makes is a contender for best book on the subject. “Dry”… ”Poorly written and edited”… ”too short”… ”fractured”… ”not-so-haunted”… “Plenty creepy. Not too much of a thrill though. A lot of this is based on the history of certain areas/buildings.”

It was that last comment that got this one over the line, promising value beyond the failure to deliver too much in the way of ghostly sightings/stories. But buy the cheapest copy you can find.

Kindle ($6.77), 128-page paperback (21 used from $2.29, 24 new from $5.68 – close enough to Amazon’s price once P&H are factored in, though Amazon say they only have one copy left).

Ghosthunting New York City

942. Ghosthunting New York City – L’Aura Hladik (America’s Haunted Road Trip)

The next contender for best title on the subject, this has fewer reviews but a higher average rating at 3.3 out of 5 – and four of the seven reviews give it 4 or 5 stars (evenly divided between the two). So this is at least promising, but inconclusive.

Criticisms are that it seems to exclude some parts of the city, notably Brooklyn and Queens, and reads like fiction aimed at (younger) high-school students. But it brings the ghosts, at least – the overall impression is best summed up by one reviewer who wrote, “If you want a taste of places in NYC that are haunted without too much detail or any talent in writing, then this is the book for you.”

Kindle ($6.95) or 256-page paperback (20 used from $4, 19 new from $5.80, 1 collectible from $14.95, Amazon has 5 copies for $15.95 but P&H is included – the other vendors will charge $4 on top of the quoted price for that).

Spooky New York

943. Spooky New York: Tales Of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, And Other Local Lore – S E Schlosser, illustrated by Paul Hoffman

The third contender! An average rating of 3.2 out of 5, with more 5-star reviews than any other rating by some considerable margin, from 9 reviews. But it’s only when you dig into the reviews and description that you realize that the thirty stories contained within deal with the … majority … of New York State and not the big apple exclusively. It is, nevertheless criticized for not being comprehensive (hence the caveat).

That said, one reviewer offers, “Quite a number of stories took place around New York City. I had no idea that Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Ellis Island had ghost stories associated with them. Also, Captain Kidd left buried treasure on Liberty Island, the Devil had a fiddle contest in Brooklyn, a monster once roamed Wall Street, and a Revolutionary War hero rose from his Bronx grave to defend his widow and baby son.” So we feel justified in including it as a contender for the best books about haunted NYC – which is perhaps a more damning criticism of the others already mentioned than anything else written about them!

Kindle ($7.90) or 227-page Paperback (48 used from $0.01, 36 new from $2.75, 2 collectible from $9.85 – so at least this has price on its side!)

Ghosts Of New York City

944. Ghosts Of New York City: The Haunted Locations of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island – Jeffrey Fisher

And the winner is… well, not this book, because it’s only available for Kindle, and while it has the best review average (3.8), it earns that rating from only 4 reviews. Still, even with that paucity of conclusive evidence, this gets a big tick for answering every one of the criticisms leveled at the preceding books, which left us no choice but to list it as a contender despite being illegible for inclusion under our usual guidelines.

Criticized by some for grammatical errors, especially mismatching tenses, which can drive some readers to distraction, but otherwise appears to be well-written. It certainly covers those parts of New York that Ghosthunting New York leaves out, as the title makes explicitly clear. If this were available in a hardcopy format, we would have no hesitation in listing it as the resource to have and specifically rejecting the others. As things stand, this is an equal contender – the preferred choice if you have a Kindle, not available otherwise. 132 pages, $8.42.

The Granny Curse

945. The Granny Curse and Other Ghosts and Legends from East Tennessee – Randy Russell and Janet Barnett

There’s something about Tennessee. Maybe it’s the legacy of too many repeats of the Beverly Hillbillies (which seems to have been in Syndication forever, here in Australia, most recently in 2014 or -15), but something about the state has entered the popular zeitgeist almost subliminally; it holds obscure associations in our minds as somewhere that we would expect to find tales of the macabre, true or otherwise, though if pinned down to it, none of us could actually cite a compelling reason for that association.

This book amply justifies that unsubstantiated impression. Where other states have a dozen or so prominent ghost stories (as reported in the books listed above), less if you exclude the big cities and seacoasts, this book offers 25 tales, all based on historical fact entwined with regional folklore and it only covers half the state!

“Witches who fly down chimneys. A chair that won’t release its occupant until a drop of blood stains the floor. A mountain that grew — and continues to grow — from the grave of a woman who was larger than life. The ghost of a woman who jumps on the bumpers of cars driving past the graveyard where she is buried. An apple tree that growls at people who pick its fruit. A woman who rose from her grave each night to get food for a baby born to her after she was buried. A peach tree that grows on the head of a deer…” this book certainly packs a lot into its 112 pages!

Available in Kindle ($3.80) and Paperback (47 used from 1¢, 22 new from $4.22, 1 collectible at $2.98) formats.

These Haunted Hills

946. These Haunted Hills: East Tennessee Lore – Tabitha Prock

As if the preceding listing weren’t enough, there is also this book. We would expect at least some overlap in the content, but 25 – the number of “tales” in that preceding recommendation – seems rather too neat a number for that to be “all there is”. But there is no table of contents, making it hard to confirm or refute this impression.
Kindle ($2.87) or 118-page Paperback (6 used from $5.89, 15 new from $4.35).

Haunted Wisconsin (1)

947. Haunted Wisconsin: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Badger State (Haunted Series) – Linda S Godfrey

Wisconsin may be in the popular zeitgeist as a “quiet state” (that comment will make more sense when you read the entries from the “Myths and Mysteries” series next week that were supposed to precede this section) but between this and the two books below, plus the Myths and Mysteries entry you have yet to see, the citizens are either working hard to change that impression, or have very definitely been flying beneath the radar! There seems to be enough weirdness going on there for any half-decent state and a couple of its neighbors.

Contents include Witches in the Wisconsin Dells, Spirits in the state capital, the Headless Nun of Kenosha, the Man-Bat of Lacrosse, ‘Rocky’ the Rock Lake Monster, the pancake aliens (also described in the Myths and Mysteries volume). the ghost of notorious gangster John Dillinger, exploration of Aztalan’s ancient mounds, the ghostly bars of Madison and Milwaukee, and the town of Caryville, reportedly one of the most haunted places in America.

Kindle ($8.12) or 128-page Paperback (28 used from $4.62, 29 new from $5.43).

Haunted Wisconsin (2)

948. Haunted Wisconsin – Michael Norman

Not to be confused with the preceding reference is this collection of scores of ghostly incidents, which have been gathered from ‘credible’ first-hand accounts, on-site explorations, historical archives, newspaper reports, and other sources (what’s left besides personal correspondence?) Remarkably, from the product description, there is minimal-to-no overlap with the Godfrey book. This volume includes Wisconsin’s most famous haunted house, Summerwind; three Milwaukee men who encountered the beautiful ghost of National Avenue; a phantom basketball player; a spectral horse that signaled death in the pioneer era of the Wisconsin Dells; a poltergeist in St. Croix County who attracted a crowd of more than three hundred spectators; the Ridgeway Ghost who haunts the driftless valleys of southwestern Wisconsin; a swinging railroad lantern held by unseen hands; and the Ghost Island of the Chippewa Flowage. Note that this is a 3rd and revised edition published in 2011 with many additional details/incidents.

Kindle ($9.98) or 272-page paperback (18 used from $11.01, 21 new from $12.79).


Spooky Wisconsin

949. Spooky Wisconsin: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore – Retold be S E Schlosser, illustrated by Paul G Hoffman

“Spooky” is probably a misnomer when applied to several of the stories collected in this third ‘weird Wisconsin’ book. While it does contain it’s fair share of ghostly sightings and a cryptid or two, it goes well beyond those limits. Again, it’s surprising how little overlap there appears to be with the previously-listed entries. Though it must be acknowledged that this offers fewer details about the contents than the first two:

“Paul Bunyon and Babe, Native American Indians, ghosts, river mysteries, and more … You’ll meet the shrouded horseman of Milwaukee, the troll of Mount Horeb, the dark horse of the Dells…”

Kindle ($8.98) or paperback, 224 pages (17 new from $0.48, 26 used from $4.00, and Amazon have 19 new copies for $9.75).

The Most Amazing Haunted and Mysterious Places in Britain

950. The Most Amazing Haunted and Mysterious Places in Britain: More Than 1000 British Ghosts, Eerie Haunts and Enduring Mysteries – Reader’s Digest

“Goast Stories in great britain” (sic). We’re listing this, despite that being the sum total of the product description, for two reasons: first, because of our respect for the quality of most Reader’s Digest books; and second, because “Great Britain” is England, Scotland and Wales, and all the books we found on Scotland and Ireland’s ghosts didn’t seem to work out for one reason or another.
Paperback, 256 pages, 18 used from $0.81, 4 new from $63.66.

Haunted England (Westwood & Simpson)

951. Haunted England: The Penguin Book Of Ghosts – Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson

“Watch out for a ghostly ship and its spectral crew off the coast of Cornwall. Listen for the unearthly tread and rustling silk dress of Darlington’s Lady Jarratt. Shiver at the malevolent apparition of 50 Berkeley Square that no one survives seeing. England’s past echoes with stories of unquiet spirits and hauntings, of headless highwaymen and grey ladies, indelible bloodstains, and ghastly premonitions.

“Here, county by county, are the nation’s most fascinating supernatural tales and bone-chilling legends: from a ghostly army marching across Cumbria to the vanishing hitchhiker of Bluebell Hill, from the gruesome Man-Monkey of Shropshire to the phantom congregation who gather for a Sermon of the Dead.”

Kindle ($10.79) or 480-page paperback (19 used from $0.77, 24 new from $7.40).

Haunted England (Whitaker)

952. Haunted England: Royal Spirits, Castle Ghosts, Phantom Coaches, & Wailing Ghouls – Terence Whitaker

The subtitle is all the information available about the contents, but it is so provocative that we couldn’t not list this book.
Hardcover, unknown page count, 20 used from $0.97, 12 new from $9.98, 2 collectible from $3.49

Haunted London (Underwood)

953. Haunted London – Peter Underwood

The first of two books with the same name. We have listed them in order of priority as far as recommendations go. Underwood earns pride of place because he got there first – this was the first published book on the ghosts of London, written and published when Underwood was President of the London Ghost Club.

“As well as all the famous hauntings – the Cock Lane ghost, the Grey Man at Drury Lane, the Tower ghosts, the haunted house at Berkeley Square etc – [this] book contains many new and hitherto unpublished findings. Not all ghosts date back to earlier centuries: there are ghost motorcyclists, for instance, and new buildings on the sites of older ones are as likely to have ghosts as those which still stand.

“For easy reference, Haunted London has divided up London geographically. Ghostly associations are uncovered in churches, theaters, hotels, inns and scenes of murders.

“Poltergeist infestation is another phenomenon included in this work”.

Kindle ($8.75) or 192-page hardcover (11 used from $18.22, 4 new from don’t-ask), pictured.
Paperback (slightly different cover) 23 used from $1.94, 26 new from $8.57). If buying from Amazon themselves note “Usually ships in 1 to 2 months”.

Haunted London (Jones)

954. Haunted London: Discovering the City’s Best-Kept Secrets – Richard Jones

Our second recommendation under the title “Haunted London”, Jones earns second place through comprehensiveness and evocative description, ready to be usurped for flavor text. “…more than 100 sites, from the Tower of London and Westminster Bridge to disused underground stations and 16th-century inns. Each haunted location is described in detail and is accompanied by contact details, maps and travel information to show the reader where to find it.”
Hardcover (32 used from 1¢, 10 new from $15.49) or Paperback (11 used from $10, 3 new from $11.29).

Haunted London Pubs

955. Haunted London Pubs – David Brandon and Alan Brooke

“London is a historical city full of mysteries and curiosities, and is home to many of England’s oldest and quirky pubs. It comes as no surprise that these pubs have a great deal more than their fair share of ghosts, phantoms, and ghouls!

“A menacing ghostly soldier lurks in Mayfair’s Grenadier pub; the hooves of Dick Turpin’s Black Bess can be heard galloping up to the Spaniard’s Inn at Hampstead; a scary nun does the rounds at the Horns in Bermondsey; and many people have heard the voices of long-dead drinkers killed when the King’s Arms in Peckham Rye was blitzed.

“Combining some well-known stories with others that are long-forgotten, this fascinating book delves into the rich tapestry of London’s pub history, with a perfect mix of the past, folklore, popular culture, and the supernatural.

96 page paperback, 13 used from $5.68, 18 new from $6.14.

Joe Kwon's True Ghost Stories Volume 4

956. Joe Kwon’s True Ghost Stories Volume 4: True Ghost Stories from Canada & The Rockies – compiled by Joe Kwon

This book only just squeaks by our eligibility criteria because of a separately-listed Kindle edition. But it’s the only book on the subject of Canadian ghosts that popped out from our searches. “We asked readers to send us their own paranormal encounters, and they did. By the thousands. This volume contains some of the most interesting and most terrifying recent encounters Canada and The Rocky Mountains (including more than 100 recent encounters in the USA).”

Paperback, 346 pages, 4 used from $11.85, 11 new fro $9.31, Amazon have an unknown number for $12.99.

Kindle: $3.03

Joe Kwon's True Ghost Stories Volume 6

957. Joe Kwon’s True Ghost Stories Volume 6: Real Ghost Encounters in England – compiled by Joe Kwon

The book that brought the Joe Kwon series to our attention. “We asked people to tell us of the strangest and scariest ghostly goings-on that they had personally witnessed, and they did:” “Submissions from all over England, of the weird, the frightening, the horrid. More than one hundred tales.”

Paperback, 258 pages, 4 used from $10.73, 11 new from $8.33 – both of which make Amazon’s price of $11.99 look pretty good, at least as long as the copies last.

Haunted Castles & Houses of Scotland

958. Haunted Castles & Houses of Scotland – Martin Coventry

200 detailed ghost stories associated with Scotland’s many castles and great houses, including Edinburgh, Stirling, Fyvie, Crathes, Dunnottar, and Neidpath. A map locates all the sites, plus there are numerous photos of the castles. There are tales of headless horsemen, sorrowful Green Ladies, murdered serving girls, men too evil to rest, portents of death, and even a phantom cannonball.
Paperback, 230 pages, 18 used from $1.88, 11 new from $24.56.

Haunted Wales

959. Haunted Wales: A Guide to Welsh Ghostlore – Richard Holland

According to the product description, in 1831 researcher William Howells voiced the written opinion that Wales had more ghosts and goblins that any other country. Wales “abounds in castles and mansions, ancient churches, lonely lanes and crossroads, even bare mountainsides which can lay claim to a resident spook or two.” Holland has carefully studied the original sources of these myths, legends, and supernatural encounters, “delving into old books, journals, Eisteddfod transactions, and unpublished essays” resurrecting ghost stories which had long been forgotten, many of which are uniquely Welsh in character.
Kindle ($2.29) or 240-page paperback (13 used from $2.74, 19 new from $8.40)

Haunted Inns Of Britain & Ireland

960. Haunted Inns Of Britain & Ireland – Richard Jones

There is so little product detail that we’re of two minds about recommending this book. What description there is only adds to that disquiet: “Find out which inns are reputed to be haunted in the British Isles.” Still, even if you have to invent your own haunting details/manifestations using the other works listed as inspiration, this could be worth having – simply because of the greater scope it affords. Ultimately, we’ve decided to leave that decision to the reader.
Paperback, 176 pages, 42 used from 1¢, 12 new form $5, 1 collectible from $9.85.

Edinburgh After Dark

961. Edinburgh After Dark: Ghost, Vampires, and Witches of the Old Town – Ron Halliday

This book covers everything from UFO sightings to Vampires and all points supernatural that lie in between. Which actually makes it more like the “Regional Myths and Mysteries” series (to be listed next week) than most of the books in this section.
Kindle ($2.87) or 224-page paperback (13 used from $1.12, 23 new from $7.25)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings

962. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Ghosts & Hauntings – Tom Ogden

One of the recurring tropes that we employ in the Adventurer’s Club campaign is the presentation of apparently-supernatural events with mundane explanations (the Scooby-Doo trope) and vice-versa as characters become more remote to civilization – with a huge fudge-factor up our sleeves in terms of how “remote” they actually have to be (more on that in the introduction to next time). Ghosts and Hauntings of isolated mansions, farmsteads, battlefields, cemeteries, and castles definitely fits that prescription!

Ogden is all over this list – we’ve recommended several other of his books – which only completes a compelling case for this book to be in the main section.

First Edition: paperback (17 used from $2.90, 12 new from $43.23):

Second Edition (Pictured): Kindle $12.40, paperback (46 used from 1¢, 11 new from $9):

Given the price differential, we recommend the second edition while copies are available, with the first edition as only a back-up choice. No page count was given for the 1st edition, but in general there was a reasonably substantial increase from 1st to 2nd editions of other Complete Idiot’s Guides.

Haunted Castles Of The World

963. Haunted Castles of the World: Ghostly Legends and Phenomena from Keeps and Fortresses Around the Globe – Charles A Coulombe

Haunted Castles and fortresses can be found on every continent – from the Scottish Moors to German Hillsides, from the battlements of old Japan to the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. This book takes the reader on a guided tour of these locations, examining the legends and incidents that gained them their reputation for possessing ghostly residents.

Reported to be short on the Ghost stories and long on the travelogue; criticized for the lack of a bibliography; and denounced for omitting some of the best known, such as Hapsburg Castle, and exotic, such as the Malacanang Palace of Manilla. At best, then, this is an incomplete foundation – but that alone is sufficient to justify its inclusion.

288 page paperback, 20 used from $2.01, 10 new from $8.50.


Documentaries about Ghosts, Poltergeists, Hauntings, etc



964. Is It Real?: Ghost Ships

This is the final episode of the 2nd season of this series, and is the only one we consider worth recommending – the others were over-sensationalized, didn’t tell us anything new, and often contained substantial errors and significant omissions. We couldn’t find the series on DVD, but that hardly matters because unless it was dirt cheap, we could not in good conscience recommend buying the whole for this one part. However, individual episodes (including this one) are available through Amazon’s streaming service and for anyone who can’t access those (the rest of the world?), the episode is online through YouTube


The Haunted Regional Britain collection

This is a series that we came across while searching for other things, but didn’t have time to review even to the extent we have done the regional US references (published next week). These deal with the various counties of England, Scotland, and Ireland with which (we have to admit), we are far less familiar than we are with the states of the US. Which, perhaps, says something about the influence of Hollywood on Australian Culture more than about any other subject. There may even be some Wales in there, we aren’t familiar enough with the locations to say.

Note that there are a couple of books in the series that have been omitted because they were far too expensive, or now only available for Kindle.

Since most of the text for next week’s entry in the series is already written, if there’s time, Mike will start retroactively adding descriptions – but that will take a back seat to getting future articles out on time, so don’t wait for him to do so!

Haunted 1

965. Haunted Aberdeen & District – Geoff Holder

Kindle $2.87 or paperback from $1.88

966. Haunted Ashford – Neil Arnold

96 pages, Paperback from $5.93

Haunted 2

967. Haunted Barnsley – Richard Bramall and Joe Collins

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $7.33, very limited copies

968. Haunted Bath – David Brandon

Paperback, 96 pages, from $6.09

Haunted 3

969. Haunted Bedford – William H King

96 pages, Kindle $2.87 or paperback from $3.96

970. Haunted Berkshire – Roger Long

Paperback, 96 pages, from $1.41

Haunted 4

971. Haunted Berwick – Darren W Ritson

Paperback, 96 pages, from $6.17

972. Haunted Bishop’s Stortford – Jenni Kemp

96 pages, Kindle $4.66 or paperback from $5.69

Haunted 5

973. Haunted Black Country – Philip Soloman

Paperback, 96 pages, from $0.96

974. Haunted Bolton – Stuart Hilton and Michelle Cardno

96 pages, Kindle $4.60 or paperback from $10.20, limited copies

Haunted 6

975. Haunted Boston – Gemma King

This is Boston in Lincolnshire, not Boston, Massachusetts.
96 pages, Kindle $2.91 or paperback from $5.71

976. Haunted Bray and Environs – Eddie Tynan

96 page paperback from 5.95

Haunted 7

977. Haunted Bristol – Sue Le’Queux

128 pages, Kindle $2.87 or paperback from $0.77

978. Haunted Bromley – Neil Arnold

96 pages, Kindle $2.91, paperback from $2.79, copies in very short supply

Haunted 8

979. Haunted Canterbury – John Hippisley

96 pages, paperback from $11.97, limited copies

980. Haunted Carlisle – Darren W Ritson

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $6.26, limited copies available

Haunted 9

981. Haunted Carlow – Cormac Strain and Danny Carthy

96 pages, paperback from $6.88

982. Haunted Chatham – Neil Arnold

96 pages, Kindle $2.31 or paperback from $5.26, limited availability

Haunted 10

983. Haunted Chelmsford – Jason Day

96 pages, Kindle $2.73, paperback from $6.20

984. Haunted Cheltenham – Diz White

96 page paperback from $6.03, limited cheap availability

Haunted 11

985. Haunted Cork – Darren Mann

96 page paperback from $5.97

986. Haunted Cotswolds – Diz White

96 pages, Kindle $2.98 or paperback from $0.77, plentiful supply

Haunted 12

987. Haunted Dartmoor – Kevin Hynes

96 pages, Kindle $4.66 or paperback from $5.56

988. Haunted Derbyshire – Jill Armitage

96 page paperback from $10.45

Haunted 13

989. Haunted Derry – Madeline McCurry

96 pages, Kindle $4.59 or paperback from $5.67

990. Haunted Doncaster – Richard Bramall and Joe Collins

96 pages, Kindle $4.76 or paperback from $11.21

Haunted 14

991. Haunted Donegal – Madeline McCully

96 pages, Kindle $4.59 or paperback from $6.49

992. Haunted Dundee – Geoff Holder

96 pages, Kindle $7.58 or paperback from $4.32, limited availability.

Haunted 15

993. Haunted Edinburgh – Rupert Matthews

Not strictly part of the series, but this still seemed the right place to list this book. NB: Amazon were showing the wrong cover at the time of compilation. Be aware, however, that the cover might be correct and this actually refers to Haunted London by Matthews.
24 pages (that’s not a typo), paperback from 1¢, limited availability.

994. Haunted Edinburgh – Alan Murdie

This is the “Haunted Edinburgh” that is part of the series.
96 page paperback from $6.

Haunted 16

995. Haunted Enfield – Jason Hollisi

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $10.37, limited availability.

996. Haunted Essex – Carmel King

96 page paperback, from $9.18

Haunted 17

997. Haunted Exeter – Suze Gardner

96-page paperback from $6.10, slightly limited availability.

998. Haunted Grimsby – Jason Day

96 page paperback from $6.30, slightly limited availability.

Haunted 18

999. Haunted Halifax and District – Kai Roberts

96 pages, Kindle $4.59, paperback from $5.57

1000. Haunted Hampshire – Rupert Matthews

96 page paperback from $0.77

Haunted 19

1001. Haunted Hartlepool & East Durham – Paul Screeton

96 pages, Kindle $4.59 or paperback from $4.96

1002. Haunted Herefordshire: A ghostly Gazetteer – Ruth Stratton and Nicholas Connell

We suspect that this might not be part of the series we’ve been tracking, despite the title, because it has a subtitle and a quite different cover, and is very different in page-count, but this seems the right place to list this book.
410 page paperback from $16.19.

Haunted 20

1003. Haunted Hertford – Ruth Stratton

96 pages, Kindle $2.91 or paperback from $3.59

1004. Haunted High Wycombe – Eddie Brazil

96 pages, Kindle $2.29, paperback from $5.68, limited availability.

Haunted 21

1005. Haunted Highgate – Della Farrant

112 pages, Kindle $4.66 or paperback from $5.52

1006. Haunted Huddersfield – Kai Roberts

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $6.97

Haunted 22

1007. Haunted Hull – Mark Riley

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $7.46, slightly limited availability.

1008. Haunted Ipswich – Pete Jennings

96 page paperback from $6.50, limited availability.

Haunted 23

1009. Haunted Isle Of Sheppey – Neil Arnold

96 pages, Kindle $4.66 or paperback from $5.65. Limited availability.

1010. Haunted Kilkenny – Cormac Strain

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $6.40. Limited availability.

Haunted 24

1011. Haunted Kirkcaldy – Gregor Stewart

96 pages, Kindle $4.59 or paperback from $5.63

1012. Haunted Lambeth – James Clark

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $5.70

Haunted 25

1013. Haunted Leeds – Ken Goor

96 page paperback from $1.77. Ample availability.

1014. Haunted Luton & Dunstable – Paul Adams

96 page paperback from $1.52, ample availability.

Haunted 26

1015. Haunted Maidstone – Neil Arnold

96 pages, Kindle $4.66 or paperback from $6.41, limited availability.

1016. Haunted Mansfield – Ian Morgan

96 page paperback from $25.37, very limited availability and possibly should not have been listed.

Haunted 27

1017. Haunted Neath – Robert King

96 page paperback from $6.14.

1018. Haunted Newcastle – Darren W Ritson

128 pages, Kindle $2.87, paperback from $7.82, slightly limited availability.

Haunted 28

1019. Haunted North Cornwall – Michael Williams

96 pages, Kindle $4.65 or paperback from $0.78

1020. Haunted Peterborough – Stuart Orme

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $14.93, very limited availability.

Haunted 29

1021. Haunted Places of Nottinghamshire – Rupert Matthews

Not part of the series but this seemed the right place to list it.
96 pages, paperback, from $2.13, very limited availability.

1022. Haunted Plymouth – Kevin Hynes

96 pages, Kindle $7.47 or paperback from $2.53, very limited availability.

Haunted 30

1023. Haunted Rotherham – Richard Bramall & Joe Collins

96 page paperback from $5.

1024. Haunted Salisbury – Frogg Moody

96 pages, Kindle $2.31 or paperback from $2.83

Haunted 31

1025. Haunted Scarborough – Mark Riley

96 page paperback from $5.27, slightly limited availability.

1026. Haunted Scunthorpe – Jason Day

96 page paperback from $6.63, limited availability.

Haunted 32

1027. Haunted Southampton – Penny Legg

96 page paperback from $5.49.

1028. Haunted Southend – Dee Gordon

96 pages, Kindle $2.89 or paperback from $17.95, extremely limited availability.

Haunted 33

1029. Haunted Spalding – Gemma King

96 pages, Kindle $2.33 or paperback from $7.12, limited availability.

1030. Haunted St Albans – Paul Adams

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $5.68.

Haunted 34

1031. Haunted St Andrews – Geoff Holder

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $6.01.

1032. Haunted St Ives – Ian Addicoat

96 page paperback from $6.61.

Haunted 35

1033. Haunted Stevenage – Paul Adams

96 pages, Kindle $4.59 or paperback from $5.69

1034. Haunted Stirling – David Kinnaird

96 pages, Kindle $7.74 or paperback from $6.99, limited availability.

Haunted 36

1035. Haunted Stockton – Robert Woodhouse

96 page paperback from $19.54, very limited availability.

1036. Haunted Surrey – Rupert Matthews

96 page paperback from $8.00, possibly limited availability.

Haunted 37

1037. Haunted Swansea and Beyond – South Wales Paranormal Research

96 page paperback from $2.45.

1038. Haunted Teesside – Rebecca Hall

96 pages, Kindle $4.60 or paperback from $5.64.

Haunted 38

1039. Haunted Telford – Philip Soloman

96 page paperback from $5.64.

1040. Haunted Tunbridge Wells – Neil Arnold

96 pages, Kindle $2.33, paperback from $14.95, very limited availability.

Haunted 39

1041. Haunted Tyrone – Cormac Strain

96 pages, Kindle $4.59, paperback from $5.53.

1042. Haunted West End – Gilly Pickup

96 page paperback from $4.10.

More copies at ridiculous prices, plus a Kindle edition for $2.72:

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1043. Haunted Wexford – Michael Benson

96 pages, Kindle ($4.66) or paperback from $5.01.

1044. Haunted Weymouth – Alex Woodward

96 page paperback from $5.50. Slightly limited availability.

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1045. Haunted Whitby – Alan Brooke

96 page paperback from $6.36. May be slightly limited availability.

1046. Haunted Wigan – Sarah Carberry and Nicola Johnson

96 pages, Kindle $2.29 or paperback from $6.23.

Haunted 42

1047. Haunted Worcestershire – Anthony Poulton-Smith

128 pages, Kindle $2.33 or paperback from $8.31, may be limited availability.

1048. Haunted Worthing – Wendy Hughes

96 page paperback from $14.63, limited availability.

Haunted Nottingham

1049. Haunted Nottingham: Myths, Magic & Folklore – Wayne Anthony

We are also reasonably certain that this is not being part of this series, but this seems an appropriate location.
192 pages, hardcover (4 used from $18.36) or paperback (4 new from $20.07) plus Amazon have an unknown quantity in stock for $28.58. (They usually start issuing warnings about limited supplies when reserves drop below twenty copies or so, and as a result we are reasonably confident of availability, if not price).



Afterword by Mike: How To Make A Story Scary

Blair had written an afterword for this article back when it was all one big shelf, but that is more appropriate for the new Shelf 12, so I’m stepping in to fill the breach.

Have you ever dried your face with a soft, fluffy towel?

Didn’t have a lot of impact, did it? Comfort-factor off the scale, but danger? Stress? Excitement? Not so much.

One of the cardinal sins of ghosts and hauntings is make the disquiet dead no more spooky than that metaphoric soft, fluffy towel.

There’s a real art form to projecting spookiness. It’s a combination of hushed tones and slowed delivery, slightly deepened voice and breathy delivery (with the occasional shiver in your voice if you can manage it), delayed responses, and then being completely deadpan and ordinary and matter-of-fact in tone and delivery at just the right moments.

You’ll know when you’re doing it right because your own pulse will quicken, your own palms grow just a little sweaty, and you too will have to face – and overcome – a natural tendency to babble faster and louder than usual.

It’s not a complete guide or perfect technique, but here’s what I consider to be the basics of what vocal technique to use, when.

  • If you would normally offer an immediate response, wait a heartbeat. Half a second, holding your breath (if you can see it coming, hold your breath while waiting for the triggering phrase). Then use your most serious tone of voice, the one you would use to tell someone that they were going to die of some terrible disease; the slight breathiness will take care of itself. (1)
  • When you feel like breaking out a big cheesy, malevolent, grin, because you know what’s about to be said is something that should scare the pants off your audience, that’s the time to force yourself to be deadpan and matter-of-fact and ordinary. In fact, whenever there is something for the PCs to get excited about, don’t. (2)
  • When approaching the point where you are likely to need the matter-of-fact voice, hush your voice by as much as you can get away with without compromising your ability to communicate. If environmental-noisily challenged, a stage whisper is better than nothing. But you need to be a little bit subtle about it, or what you’re doing will be completely obvious, and the effect will be broken. (3)
  • Putting the slightest shiver in your voice when roleplaying an NPC is hard. Much harder than anything else in this block of advice. It’s hard to do and easy to overdo. But do it right and you convey an undercurrent of fear , quite possibly with nothing apparent to be fearful of, priming those hearing to associate that fear (subconsciously) with the next scary thing to happen.
  • The rest of the time, speak just a little bit more slowly than normal. Don’t slow or slow the delivery of individual words; space them out just a little more than you usually would, as though you were speaking with deliberate care, making an extra effort to be sure that you are not misunderstood. Try and get into a slight rhythm of speaking, avoiding any sing-song quality (which normally slips in when we try to speak rhythmically unless we’ve practiced otherwise). (4)
  • When building up to the first spooky event, when there’s nothing to be scared of yet, use your normal tone of voice and delivery. (5)

That’s how to take a ghostly encounter and give it the gravitas that it deserves – instead of the fluffy-kitten-and-bathtowel treatment. Well, it’s the basics. There’s a lot more that could be said on the subject, for example controlling the use of sibilants (Ess-sounds) and harsh sounds like ‘-ack’ and ‘uck’, the use of alliteration and opposites and push-pull vocabulary, but I’m not an expert. I know such things exist and matter, but that’s about it.

(1). We subconsciously associate heavy breathing with exertion and potential danger or excitement. The tone of voice tells them it’s something serious, i.e. the first, not the second. So if you deliberately make yourself breathe just a little harder than normal, the players will involuntarily be triggered to be on high alert.

(2). Excitement in the voice can be catching, but it can also be suggestive of hysteria and sensationalism. Being deadpan at such times conveys the message that “this – is – really – happening”, conveying a sense of danger rather than excitement.

(3). Secrets and privileged communications are always whispered – how else do you communicate that it’s a secret by tone of voice alone? But there’s an implication that there is something to be secretive about, that all is not as it seems – and that is both thrilling and just a little bit scary. That’s why human beings love to gossip – by it’s very nature, gossiping is the sharing of secrets, it’s vicariously thrilling. On top of that, we tend to automatically listen just a little bit harder when someone gets slightly quieter in their vocalizations, especially if it’s not obvious that they are doing so.

(4). One of the secrets to music is the metronomic beat at the pace that you want the listener’s heart-rate to beat at. Up-tempo rock is 110-120 beats per minute. Gentle love songs are usually around 80-100 beats per minute. Dance Music can often be faster than 120 bpm. Thrash and Punk can go as high as 180 bpm. (A beat is when something happens, rhythmically, or could happen but doesn’t). The heart-rate responds to the rhythm, helping create the very mood that you want the music to convey. When we speak rhythmically, almost chant (without the sing-song OF a chant), the brain responds as though it were hearing music.

(5). Most of these effects are rooted in the fight-or-flight response, and that can’t (and isn’t) sustained indefinitely. Half-an-hour, tops. Scariness is most effective when there’s a fear-inducing effect or sequence followed by a lull, then another trigger (without warning, but with buildup) just as it’s about to wear off. Watching a good horror movie will help you get the timing right – the second half of Alien is a great example to use. Watching a bad horror movie, or one that’s been butchered by commercial breaks will quickly show you what happens when you get it wrong – so that you’ll know what to watch for.

One more tip: a dramatic and unexpected sound effect to signal something scary instead of simply announcing it – and I don’t mean a ghostly wail or moan or anything cheesy like that – can be worth a dozen delivery tricks. I used to use the underside of the table and rap it with my knuckles, but the players can usually see me tensing my muscles to do so and know it’s coming. But you know those neutral-gas packing pillows that Amazon use? Slip one of those underfoot when the players aren’t looking, at least ten minutes in advance, and at the right moment, pop it with your heel, then tell them what that sound signifies… bonus points if you’ve built up the tension to the point where the players jump!

Next in this series: The 12th shelf – Everything that got left out of this one! Secret Societies!! Freemasons!! Knights Templar!! Voodoo!! Zombies!! Vampires!! Werewolves!! Urban Legends!! Cryptozoology!! And some really strange stuff!!!


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