Received a copy of Spirits of the West: Eerie Encounters From the Prairies to the Pacific by Robert C. Belyk through the First Reads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review
In 2009 twenty-two percent of people in America have admitted to encountering ghosts. The number gets higher if you take into account the experiences of young people, but let's not because we all know they're all hopped up on stuff and attention-seekers. Let's just account for the "wisdom" that becoming an adult brings. From the first and second centuries to the modern day age of paranormal reality shows the legend and presence of ghosts has persisted through the ages.
This book is a collection of true stories told by people that experienced these hauntings first-hand. But, as the author encourages the reader to remember is that this is more than a ghost story. It is a history lesson of common western residences as well as psychological profile on the souls that decide not to make the transition to the other side. What the reader soon discovers is that they all have their reasons for over staying their welcome. Whether it be a joking janitor at a theatre locking people in rooms, messing with intercom systems, spying in bathrooms, or critiquing stage performances. A man maintaining the growth and harvest of his beloved fruit trees. A group of ghosts following a family from house-to-house needing permission to be set free. A difficult spirit crosses over from the auditorial to the physical presence if the daily dose of common pleasantries from new residents is not met. In the gates of hell in Fraser river, even clouds become a ghostly presence. In a historic building an architect with declining mental health haunts a house he deems unfinished. A sad story as he waits for a significant other to come over but never shows, he still waits to this day sixty years after his death. A real life Captain Highliner puts a stop to a young man completing his model boat. There are many persons, places, and things that take on a life of their own in the spirit of the west as they remain truly unsettled.
One of my big takeaways from the book was the reaffirmation on how in tune animals are with their surroundings and how creepy they can be. This book highlights the importance animals play in the awareness of a spiritual presence or the potential of them becoming ghosts themselves. A fire hall mascot monkey named Barney, a ghost dog named Rover who is responsible for the drowning deaths of two men at a cities powerhouse. With heightened senses, for people smell may play the most important factor where a certain odour can bring you back to a specific place and time. I know for me personally I have had two experiences where from out of nowhere I had smelled in the air something with little familiarity from my childhood, but you want to know something, I knew that smell. Other than that I have not experienced ghosts or spiritual presences but I am not a non-believer.
The author does a great job of compiling valuable primary and secondary research resources through personal interviews, other publications, and even a night as a guest in one of the haunted houses documented in this book. My favourite chapters were the last two about visitations and miscellaneous haunts. They centered around premonitions which spoke to me more than the other stories. This book was initially not scary, but when I read it before going to bed the house became a little more quiet than usual.
Jilted lovers, vengeance seekers, spirits looking for a rightful burial, conscious apparitions, much to the surprise of many, most ghosts are not found in the graveyard and may even be in your home right now.