Tuesday, April 3, 2012

REVIEW: Stalked by Spirits



R E V I E W


Stalked by Spirits: True Tales of a Ghost Magnet
by Vivian Campbell
288 pages;  5 x 8 IN
Trade Paperback
Llewellyn Worldwide / April 2012
ISBN:  9780738727318
 





FROM THE PUBLISHER'S PRODUCT SUMMARY
"Shadowed by the supernatural since childhood, Vivian Campbell has encountered angry wraiths, mischievous child spirits, terrorizing demons, and all sorts of bizarre, unearthly beings. In Stalked by Spirits, Vivian relives these thrilling experiences."
To see a videotaped interview with Vivian Campbell, click HERE.

BASIC INFORMATION / APPEARANCE, SIZE, QUALITY / ART

The 288-page book is a standard trade paperback measuring 5 x 8 inches, with text separated  into an Introduction, seven Chapters, and an Epilogue. The author is a paranormal investigator and sensitive whose life in several different haunted houses has been chronicled in several books and a television documentary.

The text of Stalked by Spirits is arranged in rough chronological order, one story after another, with flashbacks along the way. Each chapter is divided by subtitles. Chapter titles and many of the subtitles are provocative and encourage the reader to continue. Beneath each Chapter title Campbell provides a place and range of time covered by the chapter. Examples of Chapter titles: "Spook Central (Lookout Mountain, Tennessee: 1970-1979)," "Honeymoon with the Shadow Man (Atlanta, Georgia: 1991-1993)," and "Unexpected Guests (Orlando, Florida: 1993-1995)." Subtitles include teasers such as "The Cat with Nine Lives" and "Mr. Creepy" as well as those that simply identify the date that an incident took place.

DETAILS / COMMENTS

I love a good ghost story -- whether it is fictional (like Stephen King's The Shining) or just might be true. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the Weird & Haunted Tour I took a couple of years ago in Chicago (conducted by Weird Chicago), and I loved the tales I recently heard about haunted buildings in the South Carolina town where I currently live. I listened with fascination as one woman described her family's encounters with three different spirits or ghosts in her house. So far, that woman's experiences have been non-threatening. The same cannot be said for the experiences Vivian Campbell writes about in this book.

Our first clue is the title: Stalked by Spirits. Being stalked by anyone or anything is not usually pleasant, and Campbell shares quite a few ghostly encounters of the distinctly disturbing kind. She also discusses a variety of prankish, friendly, or harmless spirits.

Campbell's experiences are not limited to one house or even one town. A self-described "ghost magnet," Campbell has known spirits in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. At various times over the years, her encounters with these phantoms have been shared by members of her family as well as friends and acquaintances. 

In Chapter One, we are introduced to Campbell's great-grandmother, Janet Rattray Thompson Hosie of Scotland, who warned her fiancé not to go to work one day in 1893 because she had dreamed he would die there. He ignored her warning, and as the story goes, he was killed in an explosion three hours later at the factory where he worked.

Campbell's ancestors and other member of her family are known for having "second sight." Campbell herself does not claim that talent. Instead, she attracts ghosts. She is also sensitive to paranormal "energies" in the places she visits, and senses a difference in the air when demonic or evil entities are present. Over time, she has learned that earnest prayer is the most successful weapon against such forces.

As a Tarot reader, I took note of the few references Campbell makes to Tarot in this book. Of her ancestors, she writes: "The Hosies were conservative, God-fearing Presbyterians who would literally cut off a hand before touching a tarot card." Campbell, however, does not share that view. She
gave her former stepson a pack of Tarot for his 18th birthday to help guide him as he began his adult life. [Edited based on direct communication with Vivian Campbell.]

BOTTOM LINE

In general, I enjoyed Campbell's prose style, which varies from matter-of-fact to descriptive bordering on lyrical. I do feel she goes a bit overboard with descriptions from time to time. For example: "The full moon spilled rays of silver over spider webs of Spanish moss hanging from ancient live oaks like corpses."  One particularly sensational passage describes an empty baby carrier tipped upside down as "...like the body of a battered child that had been viciously and silently kicked to death." I wanted to edit down many of her sentences to make them more effective. However, there are plenty of beautifully crafted, evocative lines in this book to more than make up for that.

If you are interested only in scientific approaches to paranormal investigation, this book won't work for you. It seems designed more for those who, like me, enjoy a good ghost story and find it fascinating to imagine what it might be like to experience the kinds of things Campbell describes. If you have encountered ghosts or spirits in your personal life, you might enjoy comparing your encounters with Campbell's.

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In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.

4 comments:

  1. Interesting review Zanna, I wondered about the reference to tarot cards, and whether she holds the belief they are evil, although it always raises the question how can pieces of cardboard be evil, unless I suppose that, that particular deck had attracted bad energy.

    I found my self nodding when I read this line "Over time, she has learned that earnest prayer is the most successful weapon against such forces." As I have first hand experience of this, and can say that indeed it is a powerful weapon, but one has to believe and mean what they say.

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  2. Hi Helen - I am corresponding with the author about the Tarot card reference, waiting for her to respond concerning the specific statement she made about that one deck. She has already told me that in general, she is not opposed to Tarot at all. She used to read the cards when she was in college. I will share her comments about the incident in the book here on the blog when she replies. Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Hi, Everyone! This is Vivian Campbell, the author. I happened to run across Zanna's review, which I VERY much appreciated her taking the time to write! :) When I rec'd Zanna's initial E-mail to me, I was confused about her question regarding a story in my book in which I (allegedly) burned Tarot cards ... because not only did this NEVER happen to me, nor did I even write it, but I would never, ever do that in the first place!!! She referenced p. 204 of Chapter 6 in my book. I looked it up and was shocked! Now, I knew a guy many years ago who owned a copy of the Necronomicon. I mentioned to him that, often when I was at his house, I would hear menacing voices having conversations. HE suggested that we burn that book. He did & the voices stopped. That's the closest story I can compare!
    I also wrote Zanna that, no, I do NOT think that Tarot invites evil spirits!! What I wrote in my book was a reflection of the beliefs of my Scottish maternal relatives 3 generations back. When I wrote about experiences that others had, I tried to write from their perspective. Therefore, my Presbyterian grandmother and great-grandmother would never, ever touch a Tarot card, since that smacked of evil to THEM. (I actually used to read Tarot when I was in college.)
    FYI, I initially wanted to call my book "Unexpected Guests,
    but my publisher felt that their choice "Stalked By Spirits" was better.
    Thanks so much for letting me know your concern about that story - I really do appreciate it! I haven't run across any other additions to my book that I wasn't aware of. My publisher meant well, I'm sure - Llewellyn has a fine reputation and they've been wonderful to me, as have my readers. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hello Vivian! Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the background information concerning your book. I hope it is doing well! It's a great read.

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~ Zanna