In my early days, my family had a Lake House where we would spend our summers. The time was spent playing outside and swimming in the Lake but at night it was a time of stories; frequently Ghost Stories. My Father grew up with the original monster movies – Frankenstein, The Werewolf, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and of course Dracula. He spent many hours watching Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney among others, act out horrors in the movies. Dad was also a storyteller, often keeping us kids on the edge of our seats, white-knuckled, eyes darting right and left as we looked around us to see if we could spot the one-armed man or the ghost slithering around the tree. Asher Elbein brought these memories all back for me as I read his beautiful book Ghost Days.
There is an art to being a good storyteller and Elbein has been gifted with the ability. Anna O’Brien lives in the Appalachian Mountains when her husband mysteriously dies and her life turns upside down as she vows to prevent anyone else from dying the way Tom did. Anna leaves her home to learn everything she can from anyone she can, but she can’t go to school to learn because the knowledge she needs is the kind passed down through the generations. The kind that deals with witches, magic, evil demons and selling your soul. Elbein does a marvelous job of making these stories just enough scary to be exciting but not so much that you cannot sleep at night. Anna is a strong, empowered woman who learns quickly and believes in her calling. She does not shy from her opponents and often it seems as though she is more afraid of people than the supernatural. Her character comes to life for the reader and gives the story depth.
I mentioned the book is beautiful; let me explain. The book is only offered in Hardback with shiny, thick paper that feels very fine to the touch. The illustrations by Tiffany Turrill are amazing and add to the story with their profoundness. At the back of the book is a section about the illustrations that are worth the price of the book.
This is a great read, especially if you love scary folk stories but it is an even better book to read aloud, sharing it with children or friends. Don’t miss it!