Daily Archives: December 15, 2013

Review ~ Ghosts at Christmas by Darren W. Ritson

Ghosts at Christmas by Darren W. Ritson

Cover via Goodreads

Featuring eyewitness accounts, a unique history of how Christmas came to be associated with ghosts, spirits and apparitions of all kinds
From Charles Dickens’ famous A Christmas Carol to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, the festive season has long been closely associated with ghostly tales. This fascinating work looks not only at the fictional treatment of Christmas ghosts but also at a host of true-life stories from across the country. Featuring accounts of unexplained phenomena, apparitions, and poltergeists from across the country, and including the stories of Christmas Eve Kitty in Blackpool, the Carlisle Devil Dog, the ghost children of Bramber Castle, and the skulls of Calgarth Hall this book is will delight anyone interested in the paranormal. Drawing on historical and contemporary sources and illustrated with over 70 images, this collection of spine-chilling tales will entertain and terrify in equal measure and is guaranteed to spice up the festive season. (via Goodreads)

I abandoned this book after about 19 pages.

The book starts with Darren Ritson trying to academically answer the question of why ghosts compliment Christmas so well. He gives it a go citing Dickens and pagan roots and mixing in pop culture references including Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which don’t have much (anything) to do with ghosts. The volume is also padded out with some Christmas quotes at the beginning, which again have little to do with the ghosts.

Ritson is a ghost hunter and the rest of the book is a sampling of ghost tales from around England that occur in December-ish. None of the tales I read were particularly interesting or presented in a creative manner. I lost patience when I encountered as tale introduced as originating from William T. Stead’s 1891 volume Real Ghost Stories. I have no problem with a good story being repeated, but it felt like anachronisms had crept into Ritson’s re-telling. For exmple, were phones so common in 1891 that a employee might call in sick?  This made me curious so I tracked down a copy of Real Ghost Stories. The internet is wonderful place and two minutes on Amazon reaped the public domain volume. Stead’s telling of the same story is leaner in prose, lacking all the details that seemed false. Worse, Ritson seems to miss a key point in the story, overlooking a chilling piece of dialogue. And, at that point, I didn’t see much point in continuing on with Mr. Ritson and his Ghosts at Christmas.

Genre: Christmas horror
Why did I choose to read this book? Christmas horror, maybe a nonfiction slant.
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) No. Boring and tamed.
Format: OverDrive Read
Procurement: Greater Phoenix Digital Library