I love a good ghost story and not just around Halloween. Right now I’m reading You Came Back by Christopher Coake. It has the elements I like- mystery and creepy atmosphere and steers clear of horror and bloodbath. At least, that is, so far.
One of my pet peeves about ghost stories is that I don’t like it when a book purports to be a ghost story and then it turns out, the main character is either crazy or a drug addict. I think this is a cop out. Call me crazy, but I think it is necessary to have a ghost in a ghost story. I don’t want to read about alternative takes on ghosts. I want to read about ghosts.
A little (and I mean very little) research online into ghost stories revealed two facts which were rather interesting. First, all cultures around the world have some kind of ghost story. And here I admit to being an Asian ghost story freak. I like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian ghost movies. These cultures offer a slightly different take on ghosts and I find these fascinating. Thank you Netflix for expanding my world! The second fact I uncovered is that literary critics often refer to the “Golden Age of the Ghost Story” and set that time period from the 1830s until WWI. Think Victorian Age and Edgar Allan Poe. It’s sad to think that we aren’t in the Golden Age of Ghost Stories any more.
In an effort to stimulate a new golden age of ghost stories, I propose we return to reading some this summer. Read these on the bus, at picnics, at sleepovers, near the pool, on the beach, and of course, at night- alone, during fearful thunder storms.
For the Younger Set: middle grade novels:
Breathe by Cliff McNish (innovative and creepy)
Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Time For Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
For Young Adults:
Ruined- A Ghost Story by Paula Morris
Giving Up the Ghost by Sheri Sinykin
Beating Heart- A Ghost Story by AM Jenkins (creepy & mature)