Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. I also have not read the other books in the series.
I love ghost stories, especially true ghost stories. I use true here to simply mean that the person telling it believes it to be true. I’m not sure I always share that belief, but a well told ghost story brings me great joy because it is folklore. For years, the standard upon which I judge all such collections has been the Ghosts of Virginia series by L.B.Taylor Jr., a gifted storyteller who died last year. I have lost count of how much I have learned from these books. It should have been national news when he died.
Terry Boyle reaches that standard set by Taylor Jr.
I requested this book from Netgalley, not really thinking I would get approved (the publisher seems to be Canadian) largely because I like ghost stories and like reading about places I have been. The fact that this only has two stories from Toronto proper (not counting the reader responses) didn’t make me like the book any less.
Each chapter relates a separate place that may have one or more resident ghosts. Many of the places are open to visitors. Like Taylor Jr, Boyle weaves in the history of the place as well as the history of the possible ghost into the chapters. And this is the charm. It isn’t a list of sightings, but a story with a ghost. The writing is engaging and there are plenty of pictures. Boyle seems to draw upon historical sources as well as local interviews and combines the two quite well. Included in this volume is a house where Boyle lived for some time. The featured places range from a college campus to museums to homes to hotels. There is even a chapter about time slips, though I am always less enamored of these type of stories.
The weakest part of the book is the reader responses. In many ways, books like these encourage readers to send in their own stories. Yet, the voice is lost because Boyle seems to include the reader’s voice, which in many cases is not as good as his own writing. That’s the weakest part, though those stories are interesting. At the end of the book is a list of the places with various ways to gain tourist information.
In many ways, Terry Boyle seems to be Canada’s Taylor Jr. I will be tracking down the other books in the series.