Shades of Souls Passed: True Accounts of Ghostly Encounters in Madison County, New York by Teresa R. Andrews, illustrateded by Jacqueline Andrews is a short compedium of folk-lorish ghost stories. This ghostly collection- a hybrid genre combining local urban ghost stories with local history, contains nine individual short stories as reported by nine different people, retold by Andrews. Each story is accompanied by original artwork. In contrast to simple line cartoonish drawings often seen in books, Jacqueline Andrews'careful artwork contributes greatly to the sombre mood and atmosphere of each story. As any good book of spooky tales, the author purports the stories to be true- as reported by the "victims" or individuals who experienced them. As with a true story, the events are chronologically reported in reporter-like fashion combined with Andrews' skilled method of developing well detailed atmosphere. The author claims no embelishments are added. In fact, to add to the authenticity of these Madison County tales of horror, specific, additional details are included- details which further identify the individual characters. For example, Phil's story which took place over the course of a Thanksgiving weekend, and ironically titled "Thanksgiving Weekend", discusses specific details about his mom's job as a Dean of Administration at Morrisville College. Specific geographical details, and even the minute details of the house decor, add to the authenticity of the story. Sensational discription is left out, in favor of mundane- yet factiual, unembellished, realistic details.
Another tale, tells the story of an intense bond shared between her woman and her horse. Detailed background is provided about the shared memories and experiences between Darlene, and her prized companion of over 10 years. The deep sorrow and remorse she experiences after the untimely and unexpected death of her horse is depicted in great detail. The story chronicles their relationship which ends with the horse's painful death. Basically, the story is not a ghost story in the traditional sense, but rather a story of the relationship of a woman and her horse. The supernatural element of the horse's ghostly apparition does not appear until the very end of the story. Had the story not been included in a book of ghost stories, the supernatural ending might have caught the reader off guard.
As with the other stories, the supernatural element is not the emphasis of the stories. Rather, the focus is on the chronological and historical facts as told by the original storyteller and local Madison County lore. There are no gory or scary details. The stories are suitable for all readers.
The author explores the possible presence of the human spirt (and animal spirit) after death.
Mankind has always had an interest in the spiritual world and afterlife, hence the allure of ghost stories. On a superficial level, people are intrigued by ghosts and scary stories especially around Halloween. On a deeper level, people are made to experience eternity and we have questions of course, about heaven, and God. These stories, nevertheless are written for entertainment purposes and I do not believe that it is the intent of author to make any spiritual or theological claims.
I must admit I am skeptical when it comes to believing modern day visions and or the validity of ghost stories. I see ghost stories for entertainment purposes only. There are so many alleged apparitions, and ghostly spirits on television, movies and even various religions- I believe most to be hoaxes, or delusions- and in other cases, possibly demonic in nature. Once the reader decides to accept the ghost story as legit, it is up to the reader to discern the source or supernatural power behind theghostly appearance. This is where most readers will most likely accept with blind faith that this is a true account in part because most people want to believe this heartwarming and comforting message is true.
Any responsible reader familiar with the bible will be aware that he or she is faced with the task of determining if the experience of the author is spiritually based on spiritual truth, or if it perhaps is an indirect attempt of evil spirits to mislead believers into accepting false information. Paul warned in the letters of the new testement, especially in the book of Galations, that even Satan, and evil spirits can appear as angels of light, deceiving many. That possibility must be acknowledged by anyone who reads this book. So, who is to say that a perceived ghost isn't the deception of an evil spirit decieving a greiving loved one. But, as mentioned earlier, I do not believe that the author is presenting any claims either way, in favor or against ghosts. I believe the simple intent is to make a compendium of local stories for historical and entertainment purposes.
As a blogger I received this book for the purpose of writing this review. This books makes an enjoyable addition to any ghost story of folk lore collection.