22 March 2010



Cecilia Back. Ghosts of the McBride House: A True Haunting.  Llewellyn Publications, 2009

Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Michael Jan Friedman. Seeking Spirits: The Lost Cases of the The Atlantic Paranormal Research Society. Pocket Books, 2009.

Andy Matthews. Andy Matthew's Greatest Haunts. Foulsham, 2010

For 25 years Cecilia Back has lived in a house in Oklahoma which she perceives as being haunted. What is interesting about this story is that this family is haunted by a spectral parody of the bourgeois nuclear family, man, woman, boy, girl.
However this "family" is a mere facade, not only in the sense of being both simultaneously present and absent, but in that its members are not envisaged as a real family, even a dead one. They are rather more like an accidental assemblage made up to look like a family. This shadow family mirrors and presages the author's own (father, mother, son, daughter), though the daughter is born in the house, and perhaps mirror their lives

Feminists will probably regard it as significant that only the patriarch of this pretend family is given a name and identity: Doctor McBride the builder of the house, who like the writers husband was a general practitioner. The others are simply labelled as 'The Victorian Lady', 'The Boy' and 'The Girl'. They have no historical personality, being in some sense stock figures, as little more the appendages to the house, or even vagrants attracted in from outside.

The Atlantic Paranormal Society run by Hawes and Wilson features in the popular TV series Ghost Hunters. That series though initially suggesting at least a facade of science and scepticism, rapidly descended into employing 'demonologists' and the like. The present book is written well within the pop spiritualist world view, and contains claims by Wilson to have had regular communication with a strange entity in a forest since childhood, and by the group to have been threatened by a group of devil worships (their video of this was confiscated by said Devil worshipers of course), to have a video of a small elemental rearranging someone's kitchen, another video of grey alien hanging around someone's house (neither reproduced of course), to say nothing of the woman who was in two places at once, or the various growling demons summoned up by using ouija boards. After this catalogue comment would seem to be superfluous. -- Peter Rogerson

Andy Matthews book is a spin off of one of the British ghost hunting TV series, this one by the BBC (can I have that part of my licence fee back please?), and being British is rather less dramatic, furniture moving elementals, dopplegangers and growling demons being notable for their absence. Instead we get a medium producing historical romances and acting various parts out. Andy Matthews also claims mediumistic ability, and occasionally sees ghosts. Many of the experiences recounted here would seem to be explicable in terms of expectation, sleep paralysis and perhaps occasionally some kind of micro climatic or environmental effects such as standing columns of air. -- Peter Rogerson

1 comment:

Froston B. said...

I'm not entirely sure what pseudo-political point you're attempting to make with "Ghosts of the Mcbride House." First, Dr. Mcbride is the only one of the 4 ghosts given a name; because, he is the only one of the 4 that matches a known description of any of the previous inhabitants.

It's hard to give clear facts regarding ghosts of course, but we can make some educated guesses based on their behavior and other observations. The fact that we assume none of them are related to one another, aside from the children, is because they neither interact with each other nor are they seen with one another. In addition, the woman has actually been seen in several other places including the Fort itself and other homes surrounding the Fort. Again, her lack of a name has nothing to do with some chauvinist attempt to strip her of an identity....we simply have no clue who she is. We're not even sure Dr. McBride is Dr. McBride...again, it's just an educated guess based on what we've researched on Dr. McBride and what we've observed from the ghost.

In any case, I hope everyone enjoys the book. My mother went to pains not to "spice" things up (like giving names to the ghosts when we have no clue who they are...aside from McBride) or attempting to make the house sound like Amittyville II....which it most certainly is not.

All the best,
Froston B.