Ghosthunting Colorado – Kailyn Lamb, 2016.
I was extremely excited to find this book in our local bookstore. I read paranormal nonfiction like some people eat chocolate: voraciously. I have a boundless curiosity and interest in the subject, and a large personal collection of books in the genre. Having lived in Colorado for thirty-odd years, I have also visited over a dozen of the locations featured in the book.
I’m getting personal and stating all this because I’m about to give a disappointing review when I had been predisposed to absolutely love this book.
Ghosthunting Colorado suffers from a bit from an identity crisis. It is the first I have read (and will probably be the last) in the series America’s Haunted Road Trip. The introduction states that the book’s goal is to provide readers with actual resources to help them visit places that may be haunted.
Sadly, the result is an unexciting book heavy on Colorado history and light on ghosthunting with a sprinkling of travel advice thrown in. The book is organized into regional sections of the state with a map of the area at the beginning of each section. Unfortunately, the haunted locations featured in the book aren’t listed on the maps. Not so helpful to travelers. The end matter of the book contains more useful information: addresses, phone numbers and websites of each haunted site, along with weather tips, driving info, and little bits visitor information about the area.
Let’s think in terms of “glows” and “grows” as elementary school teachers do. (Really. They do.)
Lamb’s research into the history of each potentially haunted Colorado location seems solid. Within the text she refers to sources she has contacted for information, and she includes a bibliography at the end. The research is also extremely detailed. You will get a thorough factual background into each location. History buffs (like me) will approve of this part. She features a lot of well-known Colorado haunts, like the Stanley Hotel of The Shining fame (read details of my visit to the Stanley). Lamb also includes Mackey Auditorium on the CU campus, where a young girl was murdered in a room of the west tower. Additionally, she surveys lots of lesser-known haunted locations like Redstone Castle and various sites in Manitou Springs. This is great.
The “ghosthunting” part runs a distant second to the history. Some chapters give us the full ghost story behind the haunting (although at times relying heavily on Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society investigations). Unfortunately, several chapters reduce the paranormal occurrences to a few dry sentences in a final paragraph or two.
The biggest obstacle to awesomeness, however, and what really drags this book down, is the writing style. It just isn’t interesting. Reading becomes a struggle. The pervasive use of the passive voice is mind-numbing. (Think: “some people have claimed,” “it was determined,” “photographs were compared,” “the elevator has also been seen moving,” “two casinos were opened,” “psychics were brought…”) It makes the history dry and the ghostly bits bland.
When all is said and done, Ghosthunting Colorado provides detailed backgrounds of famous and not-so-famous allegedly haunted Colorado locations and gives you the information you need to visit them yourselves. In those areas, it is a success. For those of us who want a little more enthusiasm in our history and our ghosthunting, it is a disappointment.