Book Review: Stalked by Spirits by Vivian Campbell

13178066Title: Stalked by Spirits
Author: Vivian Campbell
Genre: True Haunting, Non-fiction
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Publication Date: April 8th 2012
Rating: 3,5 stars
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Review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley.

Haunted since childhood, Vivian Campbell has encountered angry wraiths, mischievous child spirits, terrorizing demons, and all sorts of bizarre, unearthly beings. Vivian relives these chilling and thrilling experiences in Stalked by Spirits, including how she and her family suffered violent phantom attacks, received small favors from a little girl ghost, negotiated with a demanding spirit, welcomed back a dearly departed pet, tolerated ghostly attendance at holiday dinners and Girl Scout meetings, and waged hair-raising battles with an evil entity threatening their baby daughter.

Taking us inside a variety of spirit-infested, often beautiful places–a stone mansion in the Tennessee mountains, a century-old college dorm, the first apartment she shared with her new husband, and the beloved Florida home that’s been in her family for generations–these true tales vividly capture an extraordinary and haunted life.

In Stalked by Spirits, author Vivian Campbell tells us about her life as a ghost magnet. It seems as if, wherever she goes or stands, she encounters spirits from the beyond. The book starts out very vividly with a description of one of Vivian’s first ghostly encounters. Mrs. Campbell has a very fluent, lively writing style, but her descriptions tend to be long and written in formal, sensational prose. However, this is much more the case in the first part than in the second part of the book. Needless to say, I enjoyed the second part the most.

The thing that bothered me the most about this book is that I don’t believe it. I don’t want to call Mrs. Campbell a liar or anything, but the sheer amount of ghosts she’s encountered over the years, makes me roll my eyes. If we’re to believe every account in this book, then there are ghosts everywhere. Yes, everywhere. In your closet, your dining room, your bathroom – you name it, they’re here. But mind you, ghosts aren’t the only supernatural thing bothering Mrs. Campbell. I remember vividly her description of how she had received a strange chair once belonging to a voodoo priest (or something along those lines) and how, one day, the chair had attacked her. Now, I know that vooodoo, African magic, and everything along those lines, isn’t to be messed with but it seems strange to me than an otherwise regular chair, who hasn’t moved in years, suddenly goes beserk when Vivian’s parents left.

I must say that I did enjoy the descriptions of the various houses Mrs. Campbell has lived in over the years, including an old mansion. The descriptions are very thorough, and I could imagine myself wandering through that house. Old houses, especially ones as gigantic as described in the book, are scary by nature. It doesn’t surprise me that these century-old buildings hold ghosts, spirits and a whole array of secrets ready to discover. Unfortunately though, the ghosts Mrs. Campbell discovers in this building are anything but good. In fact, they’re quite malicious, and they constantly hope to scare the people inhabiting the house. Not all of them are equally evil, but that doesn’t mean a lot when half of them are. I thought that this part of the book, although well-written, read more like a ghost story for a fiction novel than an account of true events. It was just too sensational. Not only were there more ghosts in Mrs. Campbell’s house than in the Amityville House or Winchester House, but they’re also stronger than any phantom I’ve heard or seen before.

Regular phantoms succeed in opening doors, sometimes slamming them, throwing stuff through the room, making items disappear, and sometimes even whispering strange messages or warnings. Mrs. Campbell’s phantoms however can slam ten or twenty doors at once, look like demons, and scare everyone who crosses their path.

Luckily for the reader, the sensational events tome down in the second part of the book. I particularly enjoyed the episodes of Mrs. Campbell in her dorm with some friends, where they encounter another series of ghosts.

Now, as to the reasons why this book doesn’t work for me. For starters, it reads too much like fiction. This could be partly because of the exaggerated descriptions and prose – even if Mrs. Campbell is telling us the truth, it already sounds like she’s adding some elements, just to make it more spectacular – or maybe because I can’t just wrap my head around this actually happening. It reminds me of that TV show, Most Haunted, in which the TV show presenter starts screaming before anything happens. And she does that every time. That’s one of the reasons why Most Haunted is more laughable than scary – the people participating start screaming as soon as the lights are out, making it impossible for the audience to hear anything but their screams. This book is a bit like that as well. Tension doesn’t build up slowly. I understand this is a real account of what happened, and if things started with a blast, you can’t exactly have them build up slowly. But I felt that this was lacking in the book, and it didn’t really have a start, middle and end because of this. If anything, it started with the climax and then went downhill from there.

The second reason why is because Mrs. Campbell finds ghosts everywhere. I understand some places can be haunted. In fact, I’m positive some places definitely are haunted. But every single building you enter? Every house you live in? I doubt it. I do tihnk Mrs. Campbell saw ghosts everywhere, but I’m not sure if they were really there, or conjured by her own imagination. Once we’ve had an encounter with spirits, it becomes easy to think every place is haunted and every odd thing can be linked to a ghost.

All in al, Stalked by Spirits left me feeling skeptic. While I really want to believe everything it says in the book, I have my doubts. There are just too many ghosts and too many powerful ones mentioned not to have me look at it skeptically. The book is quite scary though, especially in the beginning. If you’re a fan of scary reads, especially scary true reads, then this book might be for you. I did find myself enjoying it, although I rolled my eyes a couple of times while reading. The prose is a bit sensational, but it’s a writing style you get used to easily. If you’re a fan of true hauntings, I would take a look at this one. Maybe not the best out there, but it’s definitely better than the average.

Comments

  1. Can you tell me who Vivian Campbell publisher is

    thanks in advance

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