Jo-Anne Christensen, |
(Ghost House, 2002)
Halloween is long past, the candy bag is almost empty and the pretenders have put away their masks and sheets. But what real ghost is shoddy enough to leave at the end of October? Jo-Anne Christensen introduces us to some who aren't only active all year round, they're open for business.
For Haunted Hotels, Christensen visits most of the famous haunted hotels of the U.S. and adds a smattering of English ghost tales to the mix. If you're already a ghost aficionado, you'll know many of her stories. The inclusion of Lizzie Borden's house is hardly surprising. The famously haunted Myrtle plantation also comes as no surprise, but Christensen provides a take on the backstory of the hauntings that most accounts never mention. Most of the American stories, art least, have been well researched. It's no easy job finding "the truth" of stories that have already taken on a legend, and the breadth of background material here is gratifying.
Christensens' writing style can be a bit too simple for an adult reader, and there are passages that simply scream for an editor, usually when she gets an attack of qualifiers. But the variety of stories can't be faulted. Though she often refers to television programs for her stories, Christensen has dug deeper, finding treats like the haunted painting of the Bell Hotel in England and the Hotel Del Coronado's lonely truth seeking phantom.
Some readers may be disappointed to find that not all the hotels listed still operate. Given the dominance of chains in the hotel business, I was surprised at how many of these unique destinations still wait for guests with open gates -- though in some cases the ghosts seems eager for their privacy. Independent hotels are having a hard time of it right now, but the curious traveler can find in Haunted Hotels a place offering old-fashioned hospitality and some very unique fellow guests.