Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review for Night Stalks the Mansion

Every once in awhile, I'll stumble onto a book that leaves me so captivated that I can't put it down until every last word has been read.  That's what happened recently when I picked up a Kindle copy of the classic, Night Stalks the Mansion.

Written by Constance Westbie with Harold Cameron, the book tells the two-year saga of the Cameron Family's life in a haunted house.  The story is from the 1950s and chronicles how the Camerons and their five children, under the stress of living out of a hotel due to a post-war housing shortage and job transfer, fell under an air-tight lease to a house that DID prove too good to be true.  Even before the family moved in, weird footsteps were heard.

Not being able to break the lease, the Camerons resolved to learn to live with their ghostly inhabitants, and even come to think of them almost fondly.  Two ghosts appeared to make their presences known in the house, the first being a distinguished lady who frequented the home's library, but whose footsteps could be heard leaving that room and ascending the stairs to the third floor.  The second ghost was of a male, whose footsteps were heard walking along the gravel drive.

Over the course of their stay in the home, the pieces fall into place about who these ghostly visitors may be.  An elderly man, once a slave who worked the original mansion, filled in the missing pieces, but paid a dear price for it. 

This book really reads more like a novel...and a detective novel at that.  On one hand, its hard to believe that the history of the house learned from the elderly man fit so perfectly...and in such a great time frame, lol.  You know that time is coming, and its so vindictive when it does and everything finally makes sense.  On the other hand, the story is TOTALLY believable.  The activity, while disconcerting to those not used to it, is fairly mild and for the most part is characteristic of most hauntings we deal with.  The family comes together to learn to live with their ghosts, giving them the same respect as they would living inhabitants.  Its really quite touching, and a great read for anyone who has recently found his or herself in a similar situation.

Originally published in the 70s, this book made a comeback around 2005 when a grand-nephew of Mr. Harold Cameron discovered that his family history would make for an awesome movie.  That movie was put on hold, but a FaceBook page recently created for it states that its back on track, and just released a video game!

Today, the home in a Pennsylvania suburb is caught fire and was torn down in the late 1980s.  Another home was built atop the site and incorporated into a new housing development.  According to sources, neither the new home, nor the surrounding homes, are reported as haunted.

That doesn't stop the interest in the former Edwards home, though!  I don't want to give any details away for those wishing to pick up a copy of this book for themselves, but a local group has delved into the history of this location and has discovered that although its no stranger to tragedy, the history of the mansion as recorded in official documentation doesn't quite match up with the legends and the claims laid out in the book.  Please see their link below for what is now known as the Heilbron Mansion.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is experiencing the ups and downs of living in a haunted home.  I would also recommend it to anyone wanting a quick, spooky-but-not-horrifying tale of what its like to have to share your space with a roommate...a roommate from another time and place!

Heilbron Mansion
Amazon Purchase Info

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