Book Review: The Ghosts of Chicago by Adam Selzer

17436876Title: The Ghosts of Chicago

Author: Adam Selzer

Genre: True Haunting, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Llewellyn, Amazon, B&N

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

From Resurrection Mary and Al Capone to the Murder Castle of H. H. Holmes and the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln, the spine-tingling sights and sounds of Chicago’s yesteryear are still with us . . . and so are its ghosts.

Seeking to find out what we really know about the ghastly past of this famously haunted metropolis, professional ghost hunter and historian Adam Selzer pieces together the truth behind Chicago’s ghosts, and brings to light never-before-told first accounts. Take a history tour like no other of the famous and not-so-famous haunts around town. Sometimes the real story is far different from the urban legend–and most of the time it’s even gorier.

The Ghosts of Chicago is one of the most thoroughly researched, in-depth books I’ve ever read about ghosts and hauntings. The book talks about all kinds of haunted locations in Chicago and the specters haunted them. Each chapter talks about a different location. He also gives addresses and locations of the sites he mentioned, which makes it a lot easier for non-locals to find them. He talks about the lore and history of each place, and only then starts talking about the ghost sightings over the years, sometimes including his own experiences.

There’s an entire chapter about H.H. Holmes and his murder castle, which made me google him and I spent several hours browsing through articles about the man. Murderers and their motives intrigue me almost as much as ghosts do, so this was a welcome distraction. There are also several stories included about Al Capone and his squad of gangsters, so it’s not all ghosts and no history – it’s a pleasant combination of both.

Mr. Selzer writes with a hint of humor, and his writing is very entertaining and not condescending at all (a complaint I often have about authors of true haunting books). He isn’t as interested in semi-scientific ghost hunter equipment like EVP meters and such as he is about feeling the vibe of a place, visiting the spots where stories originated from and figuring out for himself whether or not a place qualifies as creepy. I loved that. Sometimes ghost hunters lose themselves in semi-scientific rambling without staying focused on the task at hand: telling us about the ghosts. Mr. Selzer definitely has no problems with that.

I’m still amazed by how well-researched this book was, how the writing seemed to flow with an astonishing ease, and how much I enjoyed the overall experience. An excellent read for fans of traveling, ghosts, mystery and history.


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