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Victorian Ghost Stories    by Jo-Anne Christensen order for
Victorian Ghost Stories
by Jo-Anne Christensen
Order:  USA  Can
Ghost House, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In Victorian Ghost Stories, Jo-Anne Christensen points out that England's Victorian era was 'often termed as the 'golden age of ghost stories''. Authors and ordinary citizens alike embraced the idea of the supernatural. As she explains in her introduction, 'the 19th century was a stage for tremendous conflict between traditional religion and emerging scientific ideas'. Science 'had trumped religion, but death still trumped science'. Spiritualism garnered huge momentum and 'suddenly people from all walks of life opened their minds to the wildest possibilities'. Unfortunately too many of these possibilities turned out to be fraudulent.

Christensen has sifted through some of the false chaff that sprang up during the era and presents stories that truly defy belief. The first chapter takes a look at Famous Phantoms like Rahnham Hall's Sinister Lady, The Greenbrier Ghost and A Horror at Amherst. In the next chapter she discusses such 'spiritualists' as Emanuel Swedenborg, Andrew Jackson Davis and the Fox sisters. Nor does she overlook some of the era's most memorable storytellers: Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Dickens, de Maupassant, Hawthorne and of course the Brownings, Robert and Elizabeth. Chapter 4 presents a fine Selection of Shades, and in Chapter 5 Christensen looks at Victorian Mysteries that continue to puzzle to this day.

So set aside some time, prepare your favorite beverage and explore Victorian Ghost Stories, a fine collection of the bizarre by an author who knows what she's talking about.

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