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on July 14, 2002
I must admit that I bought this book to help me plan a trip to Scotland. While there I hope to stop by some of the more haunted spots and maybe take a ghost tour or two. This book is very full of information but is of little use as a tourist guide. Adams has done a lot of research and his style is very easy to read but he jumps around too much. The few haunts he devotes any space to at all are places the average tourist won't make it to. Holyroodhouse which is a prime tourist spot is mentioned in one sentence and then only to say it is, "reputedly haunted".
The reader will find this book is almost like a sandwich. The first chapter and the last two chapters are by far the best in the book. Reading the first chapter in bed one night I actually got a little spooked. That is the test of a good ghost book. The rest of the book however keeps the reader so busy trying to figure out which haunting Adams is talking about that the spooky nature of the stories can't sink in. The problem is that the reader is hit with rapid fire stories with little or no depth. One paragraph can be about a haunt in the highlands and the next paragraph may be set in the borders with no real effort to mark the change in area or story for that matter.
This book would have been so much better if Adams had attempted far less stories and had given some depth to the ones he used. Still, it might serve a a good place to start if one is interested in Adams' subject. Kind of like a brief survey course.
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on June 6, 2000
From Scotland's pre-Stuart border battles with England to its eerie tales of resurrectionists, there is plenty potential for the restless spirits of its dead. The locals along Edinburgh's Royal Mile claim they have the highest concentration of ghosts in the world. If the true accounts reported in HAUNTED SCOTLAND are any indication, they may well be right. What this book lacks in depth, it makes up for in abundance. It serves as a good introduction to Scotland's residents of the nether world.
Adams covers a wide range of ghostly phenomena, including those in private residences, theaters, pubs and inns, military facilities, retail establishments, battlefields, religious structures, castles and mansions, and along Scottish roads. There is also a chapter on those frustrating poltergeists.
One experience Adams chronicles is that of a couple who move into the top flat of a converted chapel house. Although the unit below them was vacant during their tenancy, they kept hearing annoying noises come from there. When each of them went downstairs on their own to investigate on two separate occasions, they came face-to-cowl with an apparition looking like the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come. Dealing with one paranormal occurrence too many, the couple made a hasty departure. After their exodus, they learned there were others who also encountered the mysterious figure.
There is another account of a man driving down a road and coming to a screeching stop when he saw a knight in full regalia, mounted on a horse who had reared up on his haunches. When the driver settled down enough to look for the knight, the apparition had disappeared. The driver had two or three nearby pedestrians, who thought it was someone in costume, back up his story.
Most of the stories provided in this book are anecdotal. Few of them last longer than a full page. It documents people's supernatural experiences, but does little investigation aside from collecting the stories. Since these are supposed to be true accounts, this book might have been more intriguing if it put more depth into them. It neither researches the background of the hauntings to determine the veracity of the legends as they are currently known nor does it bring any mediums to the haunted locations to see what impressions they receive (à la Hans Holzer). However, the wealth of stories and names might be particularly of interest to genealogists of Scottish lineage. A friend, whose last name is Leith, was really jazzed when two accounts, involving people with her name, were brought to her attention.
HAUNTED SCOTLAND serves as an excellent survey of the rich ghost folklore from a country with a long, turbulent history. This is a good one for a dark and stormy night or maybe even on Halloween.
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