Do you have a fascination with things that go bump in the night?  Do things fly around the kitchen of their own accord – and I’m not talking about the kids and the cat – or do philosophy books pop out of the bookshelf all by themselves and land at your feet when you’re studying for tomorrow’s test on Plato?  If so you may be in touch with the ‘other’ side of life – the world of ghosts and the paranormal.  Jeff Belanger, the author of The Ghost Files has written an entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking book using anecdotal evidence from files he has gathered over the 8 years he has hosted www.ghostvillage.com, an award-winning website where viewers may submit their own stories and photographs, and participate in serious discussion groups.  The website also features articles submitted by experts and amateur ‘ghost hunters’ alike,  as well as a feature that I really enjoyed,  ‘ghost’ radio, where I was able to download and listen to a podcast of a ‘ghost-walk’ from the Heritage Hall Museum in Madison Georgia.  The website has a wealth of information for both the amateur and professional alike – in fact it is even possible to gain accreditation through online certificate courses in Parapsychological Studies from Ghostvillage U.

The author has organized the book in logical sections dealing with such items as Animal Spirits, Ghost hunting, NDE’s, Spirit Communication, and even Skeptics, punctuated throughout with selected reports of true encounters .  He even provides a list of equipment that the amateur ghost-hunter of today might find useful such as that originally used by the ‘father of ghost tech’, Harry Price, in the 1930’s.  His list included felt overshoes [to cut down on static electricity?], measuring tape, electric bells that presumably dead Auntie Agatha could use  to let you know she was still there and making dinner, lead seals for doors, batteries, cameras and even [ingeniously] mercury that could be used to detect the slightest of vibrations.  Of course today’s ghost-hunters share a passion for very high-tech equipment ranging from sophisticated EMF meters to motion detectors and digital recorders [for recording spirit voices] to temperature gauges [for sensing both cold and hot spots] and high-speed infrared film to capture those orbs and those wisps of ectoplasm wafting through the local grave-yard at midnight.

This is a well-written book with lots of information for everyone and it is readily apparent that the author is both a committed investigator and a serious student of the occult.   I whiled away some very interesting hours reading up on – and scaring myself to death with – some of the fascinating tales of true encounters, both benign and horrifying.  The book dovetails with the website very well and is a useful addition to any lay person’s general collection.  Just don’t read it when you’re alone in the house on a dark and windy night especially when the dog is barking at something unseen at the bottom of the basement stairs…

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