Richard Young &
Judy Dockrey Young, editors,
Ozark Ghost Stories
(August House, 1992)

This book from is provided by August House Audio and runs approximately 44 minutes. It is a delightful collection of frightening folktales for adults and young adults alike. As is true for most folklore of this kind, some of the graphic details provided may be too overwhelming for younger readers, but will only serve to catch the attention of older youth.

The stories can be appreciated by the expert fan of folktale as well as the layman. These stories offer clear delineations of Good vs. Evil, with the former being ultimately triumphant. The violence and gore present in nearly each tale provide positive and negative reenforcement for proper social interactions that can be beneficial to youthful listeners while providing excitement and chills for all. The few special effects that have been added to the narration enhance the telling and in no way distract the audience.

The stories included in this chilling collection are "Raw Head," "Frozen Charlotte," "Mary Calhoun," "Blood in the Root Cellar," "Old Walleyes," "Pennywinkle" and "Vanishing Rider." While each of these is familiar in its own way to lovers of the genre, each has its own variations that make the story vibrant and thrilling. The voices of the narrators (who are also the editors) are fabulously well suited for telling this sort of tale and add even more enjoyment to the listener.

The first story concerns conjurer women and their familiar spirits. A lazy farmer finds the error of his ways when he accidentally gets hold of a boar that used to be an old witch man. "Frozen Charlotte" tells of a young woman more vain about her fashionable good looks than is healthy in the dead of winter. The next story is about a young Irish immigrant woman who has to outsmart a dead thing that rides her back. It is obviously as much an import of the Emerald Isle as "Mary Calhoun" is herself. "Blood in the Root Cellar" speaks to the fear of everyone who has been young and sent down to fetch something from dark, scary places. Did she or didn't she see the growing horror in the cellar? Only the shadows know for sure!

Those of us who have grown up off the beaten paths in haunted hills and hollers of rural areas know that some things roam there that cannot be explained. One such critter is "Old Walleyes," featured in the tale of one man's mad adventures in the growing dark of late fall evening. The next story is the best and most chilling in the book. "Pennywinkle" is lent spooky sadness by the voice of Judy Dockrey Young, whose plaintive call of "Pennywinkle, Pennywinkle..." may just haunt you long after the book is over. "The Vanishing Rider" is a fine and fitting end to the storytelling session, offering a light and wistful version of the Vanishing Hitchhiker tale. Not quite as scary and a wee bit sad, the book comes to a satisfying close and delivers the listener back safe into the everyday world.

- Rambles
written by Debbie Gayle Rose
published 25 September 2004

Give it a listen at

Or buy it from