By Michael Maynor
It does not matter the time of year; one of my favorite things is sitting in a comfortable chair with a good spooky book, but reading them in October makes them much more mysterious. Below are five books from my library that you can enjoy during October!
North Carolina is considered one of the US headquarters for ghost lights―that is, for spooky and unexplained luminous phenomena. Nearly half of all reported ghost lights shine, blink, burn, dance, or float somewhere in the state. These ghost lights are well known in their localities. There are scary and fascinating stories associated with them, and they attract many visitors, each hoping to see a ball of fire floating over a cemetery or a jack-o’-lantern illuminating a corner of the Great Dismal Swamp or a long-dead railroad man swinging his lantern in search of his severed head. Author Charles “Fritz” Gritzner has been chasing ghost lights for many years. A geography professor and luminous phenomenon buff, he has visited the sites, researched possible scientific explanations for the lights, and recorded the legends surrounding them. In this charming and fascinating book, he does not seek to debunk these phenomena, but to illuminate them as a part of the folk culture of North Carolina.
A compilation of stories borrowed from former slaves of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. These tales were gathered by the WPA in the years 1935-1939. The slaves were asked questions about their family history and the widespread belief in spirits of various sorts. According to these stories, the five main creatures that "walked the night" were hags, hants, boo-daddies, plat-eyes and ghosts. All had separate characteristics. Hags disguised themselves as regular people, but a midnight they would shed their skin and torment their enemies, draining them of their energy. Hants lived in trees and would torture their victims day and night. Boo-daddies were reincarnations of witch doctors. Plat-eyes could take the form of an animal, sometimes changing from one animal to another. Ghosts were seen coming out of graveyards at night. This book relates the stories of these spirits based upon eyewitness accounts of former slaves.
Raised in the heart of Gullah country, author Roger Pinckney provides an inside look at the history, practices and people of Gullah country, off the coast of South Carolina. On the plantations of the American South, slaves passed their African roots to their descendants in a rich and lasting oral tradition, a tradition that survives today. Prominent among Gullah culture was the belief in herbalism, spiritualism, and black magic. Meet Dr. Bug, Dr. Fly, Dr. Crow and the infamous Dr. Buzzard, professional root doctors who can administer a root to bring money, find love, or cure ailments.
Take a look inside the legends and lore of North Carolina. Expanding on the popular podcast of the same name, Carolina Haints combines succinct storytelling and fun personal narratives to bring each legend to life and sort through the theories and rumors about each haunt. Twenty chapters with never-before-published research include personal accounts, interviews, and visits to locations in the mountains and along the coast. Get an inside look at the areas frequented by the Boojum, the Moon-Eyed People, and Joe Baldwin, and take your pick of the theories presented about the Devil's Tramping Ground. Can you help sort out the mysteries surrounding the Mordecai House and the Lost Colony of Roanoke?
Edgar Allan Poe arrived in Charleston in November 1827 chased by storms, both literal and figurative. Some of the author's previous indiscretions caused him to enlist in the U.S. Army six months earlier under the pseudonym Edgar A. Perry. The more than one year that Poe spent stationed at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island has been shrouded in mystery for nearly two centuries because Poe deliberately tried to hide his stint in the army. But despite Poe's deceptions, the influences and impressions of the Lowcountry permeated his life and writing, providing the setting for Poe's most popular and widely read short story during his lifetime, "The Gold-Bug," and perhaps providing the inspiration for the real Annabel Lee. Author Christopher Byrd Downey details the hidden history of Poe in Charleston