Beth Scott & Michael Norman,
Haunted Heartland
(Stanton & Lee, 1985)

Who doesn't enjoy a good ghost story? For the most part, it doesn't even matter if the story is true or not. And, perhaps the best thing about this book is the fact that its authors are not trying to prove or disprove any of the stories. Each tale speaks for itself. Some are somewhat funny, almost all of them are weird and a few of them are downright spooky.

As an added bonus, we learn a little bit about the history of the American Midwest; most of the stories carry the reader back a century or more in time. There are 10 to 15 tales from each of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. For the most part, all of the stories are humdingers.

About a dozen of them struck me as pretty scary, so I would not recommend this book as a late-night read except for those of more stalwart heart than I possess. There are a couple of stories that don't fit into the typical haunting milieu, but such stories are so interesting that the authors surely could not resist adding them to the collection. For the most part, though, these tales reflect hauntings in the traditional sense, and many contain accounts of actual sightings of ghostly figures.

The authors do a very good job in telling the stories, giving us enough information to appreciate and understand each unique mystery while refraining from offering any conclusions of their own. You can read a few tales at a time or sit back and dive into large sections all at once; the organization of the tales by their respective states of origin is well done and helps to maintain a cohesive framework to the entire book.

I was thoroughly entertained and intrigued from beginning to end.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 16 July 2005

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