Loren's Reviews > Spooky California: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore

Spooky California by S.E. Schlosser
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's review
Aug 30, 11

bookshelves: to-be-sold, morbid-books
Read in August, 2011

The illustrations are the best part of this book, truly spooky and yet childlike, like the images from a Howard Pyle book. While those would have been careful line drawings, these are blocky, more reminiscent of woodcuts. If I wasn't so hard up for shelf space, I would keep the book for them.

The stories are just okay. They're presented as fairy tales, told in the first person (generally, but not always). I would have preferred if they had been told as tales with references or tellers attached. Where did the author hear these stories? Are other versions available? My favorite part of the text is her list of references in the back. Looks like an awesome reading list.

One of the tales early on struck me as odd. Purported to be set in San Francisco, the main character of the Japanese ghost story "Vengeance" is "samurai warrior" Kane. It's hard for me to believe that a real samurai would have abandoned his country after Admiral Perry came, unless it was in disgrace. The historical dates just don't work out. If he's a disgraced samurai -- or feels he was disgraced by the coming of the West -- why would he come to the West? Also, his wife is called Ishi (like the last Yahi, whose brain was a source of contention until the Smithsonian gave it up), instead of the more feminine Ichigo. Ishi is a strange name for a Japanese.

As a story itself, "Vengeance" is a creepy Japanese ghost story. The author's additions took me away from it. I wanted to check her sources. That kind of wrecked the mood.
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