Book Review: Spirits of the Cage by Richard Estep and Vanessa Mitchell

Title: Spirits of the Cage
Author: Richard Estep and Vanessa Mitchell
Genre: Nonfiction, True Haunting, Ghosts & Hauntings
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When single mother Vanessa Mitchell moved into a historic cottage in Essex, she had no idea that a paranormal nightmare was about to unfold. The cottage, known as The Cage, used to imprison those accused of witchcraft back in the 1500s. From her first day living there, Vanessa saw apparitions walk through her room, heard ghostly growls, and was even slapped and pushed by invisible hands.

Unable to handle the dark phenomena after three years, Vanessa moved out and paranormal investigator Richard Estep moved in. Spirits of the Cage chronicles the years that Vanessa and Richard spent in The Cage, uncovering the frightening and fascinating mysteries of the angry spirits who lurk within it.

In Spirits of the Cage, investigator Richard Estep and his team of US and UK-based investigators heads off for a stay at  The Cage, a haunted medieval prison now turned into a cottage. Back in the 1500s, The Cage had been used to imprison those accused of witchcraft, who later met a grisly fate, being killed often by hanging.

Nevertheless, single mother Vanessa Mitchell bought the cottage several years ago. First, she lived in it with a friend, and even during those times, they witnessed several paranormal events, like objects moving on their own, a death certificate of the previous owner showing up out of nowhere, apparitions, even shadow people and ghostly growls. But when Vanessa’s friend moved out, leaving her alone in the house, things got progressively worse. And when Vanessa became pregnant, she basically barricaded herself in a single room in the house, refusing to go anywhere else. Things got even worse when her child was born.

Part of the book is told from Vanessa’s POV, through flashbacks. The other parts involve the investigation carried out by Richard Estep and his team. Through various methods, one more scientifically accurate than the other, from Ouija boards to letting the ghosts move the body of one of the investigators, over the course of several days, the team investigates the haunting. No real conclusions are given though, and by the end we don’t know much more about the spirits living in The Cage.

I liked reading about the investigation, the different methods they used, and I also enjoyed Vanessa’s story about what she went through. Some of the events seemed a little over the top, but since it apparently happened to lots of people, I’m willing to give the story the benefit of the doubt. However, I would’ve liked to read more historical research about The Cage, and it surprised me neither Vanessa nor the investigators did a lot of historical research prior to entering The Cage, or Vanessa during the time she was there.

The writing was a bit sloppy at times, but I didn’t mind that much. The book was entertaining and some parts were even scary – the part about the old woman looking like a mannequin staring out of the top window at passersby in vehicles, that part really terrified me. I get goosebumps even thinking about it.


Book Review: Ghost Box by Chris & Paulette Moon

Title: Ghost Box
Author: Chris Moon & Paulette Moon
Genre: Nonfiction, Ghosts & Hauntings
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 1 star
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Chris Moon was the first investigator to use the celebrated device known as the ghost box to facilitate real-time two-way communication with the spirit world. In Ghost Box, Chris shares the extraordinary spiritual contacts he’s made with the box during investigations of famous haunted locations such as the Sallie House and the The Lizzie Borden House, and when using the box to communicate with Abraham Lincoln and JFK, shadow people, UFOs, and spirits that want to talk during his frequent gallery readings.
Based on Thomas Edison’s designs for the “Telephone to the Dead,” the ghost box—also called Frank’s Box after it’s designer Frank Sumption—has been used to communicate with an incredible variety of spirits and astral beings. This book shares the fascinating story of how Frank’s Box came to be and explores the startling truths behind the spirit world’s plans and techniques for fostering contact with paranormal investigators, psychics, and people from all walks of life.

Ghost Box is hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s hilarious because the claims stated within the book are so over the top, so outrageous, so out of this world that it’s hard to take anything the author says (or the authors say, considering this book is written by two authors, a mom and son duo), seriously. At the same time it’s heartbreaking because these authors host sessions that supposedly connect people with their deceased loved ones, through a device that can scarcely accomplish such a thing, and through wild interpretations of what the device says.

So the ghost box, the number one topic of this book, was created by Frank Sumption, which is  why it’s often called “Frank’s Box”. The ghost box is based upon a model created by Thomas Edison, the famous scientist’s “telephone to the dead” (which by all accounts and as far as I can tell based on my research) was never even a concept Edison worked on. Anyway, Frank supposedly created this device and by flipping through random radio channels and frequencies, ghosts can pick a frequency and then somehow communicate with ghosts. I’m no scientist,  but I wouldn’t have minded a more thorough explanation of how the device works. We do get a few pictures of the ghost box version 1, 2, 3 and so on, but no clear explanation of what exactly the device does and how it operates.

Chris and Paulette Moon and their team are wholeheartedly convinced the ghost box communicates with the dead. They travel across the USA trying to share that vision. They often do readings in public for large groups, and then also do private readings that some internet research told me are rather pricey. I understand having to cover costs and a wage for oneself to live on, but if you’re doing this out of the goodness of your heart, then you shouldn’t charge exorbitant prices. Just my opinion. I hope for the people who connected with their loved ones through this device that they in fact did connect with the people they loved, and that this isn’t some kind of scam.

Moving on, the ghost box I’m willing to accept up to some degree. I don’t know how it works, the way explained to me in the book I’m quite skeptical off, but whatever, I’m no scientist and no medium so I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt there. Not so much on all his other claims.

The author uses the ghost box to connect with famous people who’ve passed away. Lizzie Borden in the Lizzie Borden house, for example. The ghost of Sallie in the Sallie House (well, not that famous but most paranormal investigators have heard of this case). Two girls who were murdered in what is now an inn. And… don’t fall of your chair. JFK. John F. Kenny. The late president. And Thomas Edison himself. And JFK’s wife too, by the way.

As you can imagine, my skepticism grew with every chapter. JFK revealed his murder was a conspiracy right after the author had a hunch the murder didn’t happen the way it was shown in a museum near the murder location. Lizzie Borden never said if she did or didn’t kill her parents, and the author apparently didn’t even ask – he was too busy having a shouting match with Lizzie’s father. Thomas Edison showed him how to improve the ghost box.

Oh, did I mention the aliens? He was able to communicate with aliens using the ghost box. So either those aliens are on the same frequency as the deceased, or NASA should buy a ghost box. Like, right now.

Each story got more and more sensational, and I grew more and more skeptical. In the end, I was just rolling my eyes. It’s these sensational stories that make me question if the ghost box works at all. I would’ve been far more eager to believe it did had the sensationalism been cast aside, but it’s quite obvious the author wants to use this book to become famous and book more readings rather than actually help people with deceased loved ones.

I did some research and found an article online about someone who went to one of Chris Moon’s readings and saw the ghost box in action, and was rather dissapointed by its use. The box was just babbling things, and Chris Moon was apparently the only one who could make out what the spirits were saying. The spirits didn’t act very credible either, not in the way you’d expect spirits to act.

I’ve seen other paranormal investigators use the ghost box, admist other tools like EVP, heat cameras, the flashlight test, and so on, where the results are mixed. As you can expect in any paranormal investigation, sometimes the ghost box does seem to allow people to talk to sentient beings (possibly spirits) and sometimes it’s just gibberish. Just like those other tests sometimes work and sometimes don’t work. Ghosts aren’t always ready to play.

While the book didn’t change my opinion of the ghost box, and I also feel like I don’t know much more about it, I’m more than a little skeptical about ghost boxes now.

Book Review: Dark Spirits by Stephen Lancaster

26796653Title: Dark Spirtis: A Man Terrorized by the Supernatural

Author: Stephen Lancaster

Genre: Nonfiction, True Haunting, Ghosts & Hauntings

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

Stephen Lancaster has been investigating haunted locations for the past 15 years, and these are some of his darkest cases, which have an eerie connection/familiarity. It also focuses on how the cases/investigations affect his life and what happens when an entity follows you home.

In Dark Spirits, Stephen Lancaster talks about some of his scariest cases to date. From a haunted plantation house to a spirit that possibly followed him home, all the cases are memorable. Some are a bit over the top, and don’t seem all that believable, but I’m willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt.
I do feel that in some cases, as with the spirit possibly following the author home, there might also be an edge of paranoia to the stories. Even if something is haunting you at home, it’s a bit irrationable to immediately think it’s the same ghost you met x number of days/weeks ago somewhere else. I didn’t immediately see why it would be that ghost, and not something else.
Anyway, despite showcasing the author’s scariest adventures, I wasn’t really terrified – not even freaked out to admit. Most of the accounts were just too over the top, and the repetitive writing (serioulsy, things were repeating A LOT of times) made the book lose its tension, and it wasn’t as scary as I had hoped and anticipated.
Nevertheless, if you enjoy true haunting books, I would recommend you give this one a shot. The writing isn’t bad, and the stories are entertaining.