3.5 stars. Learning about history via a tour of the most haunted places in America is not something I knew I wanted until I heard Liberty Hardy talking up Ghostland on a Book Riot podcast. Once I knew it existed, I had to get my hands on it.
Colin Dickey travels the country learning more about the ghosts of America’s history. The ghosts take both him and the reader to some very random places and histories. From a house hunt in Los Angeles to “the most haunted mansion in America” to haunted burial grounds to a haunted prison, Dickey kept me interested the whole way through. The most memorable, moving part of this book is when he visits Virginia. Despite Shockoe Bottom having been the center of the slave trade and unimaginable misery, it’s quite shocking how many white ghosts there are and how few black ghosts. If ghosts really are the manifestations of spirits who spent much of their lives in pain, wouldn’t there be innumerable ghosts who were slaves? The way Dickey was able to ruminate on this historical shame via the examination of the supernatural was extremely compelling.
I liked that Dickey didn’t have a firm opinion on whether ghosts were real or not. Instead he writes about people who do believe in these ghosts and examines the historical context. His musings seemed very fair and thoughtful to me. If you’re looking for a scary book, this is not that. But if you like reading about weird pockets of history, this might be the perfect book for you.