Not everyone is as forthcoming about their ghost stories as people who frequent this website. There is a stigma of sorts attached to telling a personal ghost story, the doubt if the listener will believe you or think you're crazy from watching one too many horror movies. But at the same time there is a secret thrill in being the recipient of someone's ghost story, almost like a bond of trust that develops between story teller and listener. This is part of the basis of Spirit Sisters, stories told that normally wouldn't be in general company, saved for all but the closest friends.
Karina's Spirit Sisters is similar to Bluenose Ghosts in that she has traveled throughout Australia to talk to women about their experiences with the paranormal. But the similarity breaks down after that - where Bluenose Ghosts reads like a historical essay, Spirit Sisters reads like a novel. Each interviewee is introduced to us and given life, as if we're sitting there at the table with the two women. It's like a novelist introducing a main character and gives a sense of familiarity to us before the interviewee starts to tell her story. Rather than bog down what would otherwise just be a book of ghost stories, the descriptions are long enough to give life to the person sitting across from Karina but at the same time is succinct enough that we know the story is close behind.
The book is broken up into different manners of hauntings, there are the requisite haunted houses and poltergeists but there are also more touching stories such as love after death. One of the more fascinating chapters to me was the second, Awakenings, where the women describe how they first became sensitive to the paranormal and how they have had to adjust their lives to deal with their new abilities. Karina ends the book with a short chapter on the nature of ghosts and possible explanations for why people see the things they do which gets away from the spiritual and into the rational and scientific viewpoint which I found quite refreshing to read.
All in all, I thouroughly enjoyed Spirit Sisters and highly recommend it to anyone liking a good read as well as a scary story. Unfortunately the book is only available in Australia and the UK at the moment but you can become a fan of Spirit Sisters on Facebook which you can access here. If you want to see it in the States, make your voice heard and maybe we can get Karina's book on this continent.
Bluenose Ghosts is a staple in almost every Nova Scotian's library. First published in 1957, it was the work of Canadian folklorist Helen Creighton. She started out roaming Nova Scotia in the 1920's looking to catalog folk songs of the Maritime region of Canada and ended up with a vast collection of first-hand accounts of ghosts, hauntings, and other supernatural events.
As a little bit of background, Nova Scotia is a melting pot of cultures - there are communities of Scottish, Irish, German, and French descendants. This is reflected in some of the stories; some of them are very recognizable as coming from different parts of the world. The chapter on fairies is a prime example of Irish folklore transplanted across the Atlantic.
But rather than just being a collection of cultural myths or legends, the stories are mostly personal interviews with the people affected by the ghostly events. Dr. Creighton does a splendid job of retaining the individual's style of storytelling, much as I try to do with COS stories.
The stories are broken up into chapters depending on the type of
haunt. Being a sea-faring province, a sizable portion of the book is
dedicated to things like ghost ships and ghosts guarding buried
treasure. Aside from those, I found some of the more fascinating and
creepy stories in the first section, 'Forerunners'. Here Dr. Creighton
relates accounts of people foreseeing their own deaths by witnessing apparitions of themselves at the time of their passing. Probably one of the more scary stories is of a young man who is chased down a country road by an apparition, looking somewhat like a ghoul or zombie, which later turns out to be a forerunner of how he would look
upon his death.
The only fault I have with Bluenose Ghosts is the section called
Devils and Angels. It's really no fault of Ms. Creightons, it's more
of a cultural anomaly that events related in the 'Devils' section are
the typical men-playing-cards-notice-cloven-hoofs-under-the-table
motiff that can be heard in many parts of the world. Though they are
entertaining and sometimes terrifying, the stories have a bit if the
heard-it-all-before quality about them. Those of you expecting
inspiring stories of angel visitations will be sorely disappointed as
the angels come across as harbingers of death or simply messengers
from beyond which could have fit in the Forerunners section. As such,
it is also the smallest section of the book.
That one quibble aside, overall the book is very enjoyable. The
stories are told in such a fashion that one can picture onself sitting
in a small country kitchen listening to someone's grandfather spin a
yarn about how he saw the ghost of Captain Kidd marching down the
beach. As Nova Scotia is made up of many small communities, everything
has a 'folksy' feel to it and is a refreshing break from the typical
urban legends of men with hooks for hands hiding in the backseats of
cars. The variety of stories alone should make this required reading
for anyone interested in ghost stories and the paranormal.