Author: David Lee
First Published: 2008
Page Count: 171
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 2/5 Stars
A fun read for locals but not substantial enough to satisfy true haunting junkies.
*Great Pictures *Fun for Locals
*Short Stories *Grammatical Errors *Questionable Material
“More than one million people live in the city of San Jose, and this city definitely has its share of ghosts.” Haunted hospitals, private residences preyed upon by ghostly visitors, or long dead citizens walking among the living in bars, hotels and more are recorded in David Lee’s book. Lee takes readers on a tour of San Jose’s many haunted locations including famous spots like the Winchester Mystery House. Whether the spots are merely rumored to be haunted, are the source of local urban legend, or are certified haunted locations, Lee covers them all in his book.
As a lifelong resident of San Jose, an avid reader of horror and true haunting stories, and someone with an interest in all things that go bump in the night, I was very excited when a book about hauntings in my hometown fell into my lap. It even caused me to break my cardinal rule of not starting another book while I’m currently reading another (sorry Diana Gabaldon). I would say I was familiar with about 90% of the locations which makes the stories all the more interesting. I also really liked that the author included pictures of a lot of the sites. Beyond that, he also included pictures showing supernatural activity from orbs to reflections of famous past residents. Photo proof always makes any paranormal book more intriguing and that was definitely the case here.
It is hard to find a book, especially in this genre, that successfully documents and presents a lot of stories or events without feeling rushed or vague. Unfortunately the stories of these haunts are so short, in some cases two sentences long, that they lack punch because the reader is speeding through them so quickly. If some of them are that short, I wonder if they should have even been included. I also stumbled across a few grammatical errors, but that wasn’t what really put me off about the information in the book. I’ve delved quite a bit into the occult, true haunting, and paranormal literature to satisfy my interest in the macabre and a lot of the author’s terminology does not seem to align with how the community understands this area. For instance, the author refers to an entity in one story as both a ghost and a demon. The same is done in another story where he refers to a poltergeist as a ghost as well. In short, a ghost is the spirit of a being who was once living, a demon is a malevolent entity that has never been human, and while there is a lot of debate on what exactly a poltergeist is, most say it is a supernatural being that causes physical, prank like disturbances but might or might not be human in origin. A lot of the activity described in his stories which were labeled as ghost hauntings clearly looked like demonic activity which is a whole other ballgame. The fact that I severely question the author’s use of paranormal terminology and the fact that some of the accounts are probably mislabeled as just ghost activity makes me question the entire book and all the information in it.
If you are a resident of San Jose, this could be a fun, quick read to learn about the different urban legends and haunts of the area. However, anyone looking for a substantial summary of ghostly activity in San Jose might not be satisfied with this book. What worries me is that a lot of these cases could be demonic in origin and locals with a sudden interest in ghost hunting might get themselves in really sticky situations that are beyond their spiritual/mental/physical capability to handle. The paranormal realm is a grey area and many people have many different opinions on this area which makes it hard to say what is and isn’t real, dangerous, and who is right or wrong in their definitions of it. The stories are compelling but hopefully any person when dealing with the unknown whether its spiritual or not, takes extreme caution for the well-being of their family, loved ones, and most importantly themselves.