Saturday, February 25, 2012

Monsters and Ghosts of West Virginia Book Review

Thanks to a good friend and fellow HPIR member, I am the proud owner of another volume of West Virginia supernatural tales!

Title:  Monsters and Ghosts of West Virginia
Authors:  Erin Turner and Isaac McKinnon
Published:  2011 by Quarrier Press
Purchase Information from the WV Book Company

This was a really fun little book, with an awesome backstory:  The two authors are actually a mother and her middle school-aged son, who worked together to bring some of WV's most fascinating ghost, cryptid, and UFO cases to life.  It is illustrated with vibrant, full-colored paintings by Erin Turner.

I really only have praise for this slim volume.  While I generally prefer my WV ghostlore to be straightforward and as factual as can be expected of such a topic, I found myself drawn to this book, and truly enjoyed it.  Each chapter is based in fact; the authors take a popular WV tale, or a widely accepted phenomenon, and spin a yarn, so to speak, to bring it to life. The creative license really seems to work here; tales are loosely interpreted or told from unexpected viewpoints, without actually giving any false information like some similarly formatted books I've seen.  As an added bonus, the authors have included a map of West Virginia, marking the locations of origin for each of the 15 tales discussed.

The text is extremely simple and easy to read, and the stories are presented in a very "safe" way, leaving out some of the more gruesome or "adult-themed" details that often accompany some of these tales.  It still maintains a creepiness factor, though!  Therefore, this is a PERFECT book for middle school aged kids or younger to read as an introduction to the ghostlore and supernatural history of the Mountain State.  It's also a great family book, perfect to share around a campfire or on a stormy Halloween night.  I'd also recommend it to any adult who finds himself yearning for a simpler time when the idea of ghosts and monsters lurking in the woods was still a very real thought!

As a side note, I have to point out the enjoyment my friends and I got from the wonderful paintings by Erin Turner which graced the pages of this book.  Never will you find a more prim and proper depiction of Satan having his afternoon tea...and never will you find a more effeminate interpretation of Chewbacca (er, I mean, Big Foot) fleeing an apple orchard loaded down with his bounty.  That alone is reason enough to pick up a copy of this book today!

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