"The Ghost Chronicles"

Two Scary Books

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

It’s a quarter after midnight and you can’t sleep. All night long, some joker keeps thumping and scratching on your outside door. Or maybe it’s an animal, but you don’t think that’s it — there’s no animal that big or persistent. Whoever it is has got to stop. You flip on a light. Scream. It’s not a who. It’s a “what.”

Scared? Oh, come on. You got a little shiver. Admit it and then read these two books that will put the “Oooo” in spoooky this Halloween.

It’s hard to look at the cover of “Werewolves” by Bob Curran and illustrated by Ian Daniels, and not feel goosebumps. But do werewolves really exist, or are they the product of fanciful imaginations?

To answer that question, Curran plunges into literature and history a thousand years old to show that there were words for a wolfman back when Vikings were still exploring the seas. One of the original Wulfstans (roughly, “wolf stone”) was a powerful clergyman and lawmaker. Hardly scary, until you understand that one of his successors was turned into a wolf by St. Patrick, according to legend. Other saints followed suit, and there you are: a ticked-off human-wolf hybrid.

The wolf, long a foe of mankind, is obviously at the root of the werewolf legend, Curran says. Psychology plays a part in making our brains believe. Add centuries of literature, humans raised by wolves and “the thrill of the dark creature” and that scratch on the door is benign no more.

But wait. What if the spirit is in the room with you? According to “The Ghost Chronicles” by Maureen Wood and Ron Kolek, get out of the house — fast! Spirits usually can’t leave the building they’ve chosen to inhabit. But they can inhabit a person, at least for a little while, as you’ll see in this book. Wood is a medium who can “channel” spirits (and they’re not always nice ones), while Kolek is, as a paranormal scientist, the guy with meters and monitors. Together, they relate 17 cases they’ve investigated, including one malevolent spirit in an old New Hampshire farmhouse and an exorcism that’s going to make you want to hide.

I really need to remember not to read these kinds of books when I’m alone at night. “Werewolves” contains some of the finest, scariest artwork you’ll ever see. History takes a little of the scare out of the legend, but just a little.

Despite the occasionally over-dramatic prose in “The Ghost Chronicles,” I read a bit and turned on another light, read a little more and checked the closet, read some more and moved away from the window.

If you’re looking for something to get you in the mood this Halloween, you can’t go wrong with these books. “Werewolves” and “The Ghost Chronicles” put the “Eeee” in “creeepy.”


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