Friday, July 22, 2011

A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia-Book Review

Here's another book review!

Title: A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia by James Foster Robinson

Readers to my site know how much I love collecting paranormal literature related to the great state of West Virginia, and am an avid supporter of small publications and local authors.  Readers also know that I very rarely have too many negative things to say.  Well, that's about to change, I'm afraid.

The author of this book should really be ashamed.  The grammar and spelling issues go WAY beyond a few typos and syntax issues found in publications without an editor--the problems in this book took it to a whole new level with common counties, towns, and other names being brutally hacked to death in addition to the many, many misspellings of everyday words.  Also, the organization of the book was difficult to follow.  Sometimes haunted locales would be listed by county in one large group...and sometimes they would be independent.  There was no way to easily look up one area of the state and get a concise, full listings of haunted places.

Grammar issues aside, I have a few other complaints with this book as well...

To put it simply, this book was nothing more than an extremely expensive hard copy of a Shadowlands entry for West Virginia.  Going off on a brief tangent, its the Shadowlands listings and similar sites that use a copy and pasting of its entries, that are one of my biggest pet peeves as a Research Manager, lol.  Anyone with a computer can add an entry, and many times, those doing the submitting have very little correct information.  They are simply re-telling urban legends and old stories.  In the event that they ARE submitting a personal experience, it is usually a personal experience that is extremely ambiguous or unbelievable...with little to no way of verification.  Historical and geographical data is often wrong, leading a potential investigator very little to work with.

However, these types of websites I can forgive.  It is impossible for a site owner to verify each submission, and would take too long to look up and correct every single entry, some of which have very little published background information available online.  And...these sites DO serve a purpose.  They offer new investigators plenty of potential hot spots to look into and encourage doing personal research to find out which ones are worthy of an investigation.  They are also an awesome research tool for finding out just what types of legends are common in a local area, and what the general public thinks about certain locales.

I cannot, however, forgive the lack of research done by a supposed professional author who has experience writing in a variety of media.  If you're going to put such a writing in book form and charge money for it, I expect that research be conducted to at least offer accurate information and correct spelling of places.  It is very possible to present a book such as this for what it is...there is a way to combine the fact and the folklore!  This author, however, seems to miss that mark.  End Rant.

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