Book Reviews: “Haunted Wisconsin” and “Monsters of Wisconsin”

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About the Guest Author:

Don E. Smith Jr.

Don Smith is a freelance writer from New Jersey.  He enjoys writing for numerous websites and for comic book companies.  When not writing for one of these outlets, Don is a published author with two books under his belt:  HAWTHORNE from Arcadia Publishing and the upcoming GOFFLE ROAD MURDERS from History Press.

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Monsters of Wisconsin by Linda Godfrey

My favorite television series about ghosts is “Haunted History,” narrated by the spooky John Glover.  The show features re-enactors who barely look like the dead people they are playing intertwined with interviews of employees or residents of a known local haunt.  I would much rather see an hour of the “ghost” actor walking in a creepy manner than see an hour of some plumbers in an abandoned building (filmed with a green lens) whispering, “Did you hear that?”

In the spirit of “Haunted History” and taking this into the literary direction, is there anything better than a book of local haunts?  Walk in to any library, local bookstore or historical society, and there is a chance you can pick up a copy of a book with the name of a state, county, or town and see the words “Haunted” or “Ghosts Of…” on the cover.

Two recent books I had the privilege of reading were both written by the amazing Linda Godfrey.  “Monsters of Wisconsin” (2011) and  “Haunted Wisconsin” (2010) are both from Stackpole Publishing, a Pennsylvania-based publishers that is cornering the market in local haunts and giving two other top publishers, Schiffer Books and History Press, a reason to look over their shoulders.

Godfrey, who came to international fame with her 2003 book “The Beast of Bray Road”, shares the most incredible tales of manwolves, ghosts, sea serpents and bat-things that seem to litter the landscape of Wisconsin.

In “Monsters of Wisconsin” she breaks down the book into stories of sasquatches; creatures seen in the sky; out of place animals, such as kangaroos in Waukesha; aliens and other oddities; lake monsters (ie. similar to the Loch Ness Monster); werewolves and lumberjack legends.  In “Haunted Wisconsin,” she breaks it down by location with tales of haunted houses, taverns, libraries and hospitals.

Haunted Wisconsin by Linda GodfreyWriting wise she is able to set up and tell a fun story, yet she incorporates her sweet and sarcastic personality in each individual entry which makes both books hard to put down.

However, she recycles stories in both her books, which might be the one detraction here.  Yet, when she retells a story, she gives it a unique perspective and it can be argued that “Haunted Wisconsin” is a prequel to “Monsters of Wisconsin.”

Still, the stories in her book are similar in nature to just about every other true ghost story found in any of the other “haunted location” books, but both “Wisconsin” books are quite compelling.

In every episode of one of my other favorite television shows, “House”, Dr. Gregory House is always cranky, he alienates his friends and family, and he saves the day.  Despite its predictability, the show will begin its eighth season.  The same principle applies here.

People want to hear a good ghost story and Godfrey will not disappoint.  For horror and paranormal fans of local lore, these books are a must have.

Hopefully, one day we will see them as a basis for a television series narrated by Glover.

Visit Linda Godfrey’s site at www.beastofbrayroad.com.

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