spooktacular reads by local authors

photos: Annabelle Gallois-Bernos
photos: Annabelle Gallois-Bernos
photos: Annabelle Gallois-Bernos
photos: Annabelle Gallois-Bernos

by Anna Rabhan
Ghosts are appearing in neighborhood trees, witches are popping up in windows and strange tombstones are rising from manicured lawns. Halloween is almost here! Celebrate with horror, haunting and fiendish fun from local authors.
There is no shortage of ghost stories in northeast Florida, nor of people who like to tell them. To get to know a few of these “spirited” neighbors, pick up Florida Ghosts & Pirates by C. Lee Martin (2008). Though Ms. Martin now lives in Georgia, she was born and raised in Florida and has lived all over the state, including in Jacksonville. The stories in her book are brief, making them perfect to share around a bonfire on Halloween night or to read in the evenings leading up to Halloween. The stories come from Jacksonville, Fernandina, Amelia Island, St. Augustine and Daytona, so they’re also great to read if you plan to visit some of the locations mentioned or if you’re in the mood for a pre-Halloween road trip. The black and white photos aren’t the best quality, but they are interesting since the buildings and locations mentioned in the story are of historic importance. Many of the stories include, or are based on, the author’s impressions as a psychic and paranormal researcher. Find it at www.schifferbooks.com and other outlets.
Another book of local tales comes from Floridian Greg Jenkins. This mental health counselor is also an associate member of England’s Society for Psychical Research and the creator of the Florida Psychical Research Group. His 2005 book, Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore: Volume 2, North Florida and St. Augustine, was preceded and followed by books of ghostly stories from the Gulf Coast and Pensacola and from South and Central Florida. The pictures in this book are also black and white, but of slightly better quality. The stories are a bit longer too, including more history, atmospheric (read: “creepy”) detail, and the author’s take on the story. One local yarn, which appears in several such books but is given the creepiest treatment in Jenkins’ collection, is the story of Jacksonville’s School Four. Although Jenkins doesn’t present any historic evidence of a ghost-producing event taking place on the school grounds or in the building, he interviews folks who have entered the building (something he recommends against and points out is illegal). Their stories are certainly goose bump-inducing. While the book also seems to be well-researched, the tales are entertaining in and of themselves and the many appendices, including “Tools of the Modern Ghost Hunter,” are interesting. One appendix, “Ghost Tours,” could be very useful for someone wishing to follow up their reading with a spooky outing.
A well-written collection of local ghost tales is Karen Harvey’s Oldest Ghosts: St. Augustine Haunts (2000). Harvey, former arts and entertainment editor of The St. Augustine Record, has written numerous books and articles about the Ancient City. She lives in St. Augustine and conducts ghost tours and educational tours of the town. Her connections with the St. Augustine Historical Society facilitated her research, and her association with ghost tours and local psychics and mediums add color and otherworldly perspective to the tales in her book. Ms. Harvey tells these ghost stories with just the right balance of detail and brevity. A few stories from other parts of the country are sprinkled throughout the book, but they are all tales told to her in response to experiences had in St. Augustine. Black and white photos and illustrative sketches provide visuals throughout the book. Harvey’s and Jenkins’ books, and many other books about ghosts, can be found at www.pineapplepress.com. These books are also available in Jacksonville’s libraries and local bookstores.
If you prefer your local Halloween inspiration to come from the fiction shelf, how about a taste of paranormal romance? Vampires are hot (think Twilight and True Blood), and so is St. Augustine resident Nancy Haddock’s Last Vampire Standing. This novel follows her 2008 La Vida Vampire, which was on Barnes & Noble’s romance trade list, among other national best-seller lists. In Last Vampire Standing, things are going Francesca “Cesca” Marinelli’s way but, then again, she is a vampire and it’s never all fun and games for them. She finds herself up against a psychotic vampire and an energy-eating plague. Nevertheless, she makes time for a little romance! A Romance Junkies review says, “Nancy Haddock pens a unique tale with mesmerizing characters wrapped into an enthralling plot sure to please all types of readers.” With a lot of humor, a little mystery and suspense, some romance, a healthy dose of danger, and an assortment of magical beings, Last Vampire Standing is the perfect witch’s brew for a pre-Halloween read. Find Haddock’s books at all major bookstores. La Vida Vampire is also in Jacksonville libraries.

About FOLIO

april, 2022

X
X