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Posts tagged ‘paranormal’

Scary Library: The Haunting of Willard Library

Willard Library

Image via Library Ghost.

Winter, 1937. It was a bitterly cold night in Evansville, Indiana, the kind of snowy winter night that sees most citizens buried under as many blankets as they can gather together. But at least one citizen was up and about – a solitary janitor whose name has been lost to posterity. He worked nights at beautiful Willard Library, keeping the building safe and warm by maintaining the coal-powered furnace overnight and attending whatever mundane maintenance tasks couldn’t be tackled during the day, when people came  in for quiet reading and study. In the early hours before dawn, as our hard-working janitor descended to the basement to stoke the fires yet again, he saw something he would likely never forget.

There was a lady there, clad all in gray, from the veil upon her head to the shoes on her feet. In the dim light, even her skin seemed gray. How could a woman possibly have gotten into the building? The flustered janitor fumbled his flashlight; it hit the hard ground, but it didn’t go out. He watched in shock as the woman before him dissolved into shadows, as if she had never been there.


The Fury

The Fury by John Farris

Image via Fantastic Fiction.

Title: The Fury

Author: John Farris

Year of Publication: 1976

Genre Keywords: action-adventure, conspiracy, horror, paranormal, psychic, suspense, teen, telekinesis, thriller.

Summary: Gillian is a level-headed, perfectly normal teenager from a wealthy and powerful family . . . until a serious fever awakens the psychic powers she’s been burying since childhood. Robin is deeply aware of the powers he’s always had, even if he has to conceal them around the fanatically religious relatives caring for him. Now that the teens are beginning to explore astral projection, clairvoyance, and telekinetic powers, government agencies have started to take notice. Will they be able to harness Robin and Gillian’s potential for the sake of national security? Or will the teens’ potentially lethal abilities leave government officials shooting to kill? Just to add a layer of complexity, Robin’s father has discovered how the government wants to use his son, and he’d do anything to save Robin from their clutches. He’s fighting for his son’s life, but the body count is rising and time is running out.

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who likes their horror stories X-Files-style, with a side order of conspiracy-theories-come-true. The imagery is truly macabre and honestly a little bit gory, and the fact that it was current in the 1970s makes it almost period fiction by this point.

Beyond Books: For horror-film buffs, check out the classic film adaptation of The Fury, directed by Brian de Palma.

Good Night, Sweet Angel

Cover art for Good Night, Sweet Angel by Clare McNally

Image via Amazon.

Title: Good Night, Sweet Angel

Author: Clare McNally

Year of Publication: 1996

Genre Keywords: afterlife, child in danger, ghosts, haunting, murder, parenting, possession, psychological thriller, supernatural, suspense, thriller.

Summary: After her abusive ex-husband dies trying to get revenge on her and her daughter, all Jenn Galbraith wants is a new start. But that won’t be so easy. Evan’s angry spirit is searching for them from beyond the grave, wanting above all to get revenge on Emily for telling the truth about her father’s abuse. Emily has one ally in this supernatural battle – a ghost-child called Tara. But Tara isn’t always a nice friend; she can be capricious and mean-spirited, and she’s causing Emily some trouble. But surely it can’t be greater than the trouble Emily would be in if her father got to her . . .

Who’ll Love It: Anybody who likes a genuinely creepy ghost story will be enthralled by this one. Tara’s ghost leaves nobody at peace; even minor characters feel her wrath in the form of strange hauntings during a Thanksgiving visit. And don’t forget to look out for strange side characters like Laura, the fifties-throwback housewife, her creepy fieldhand, and her troubled son. It left me inspired by its perfect blend of paranormal phenomena and real-world creepiness.

A Touch of Romance: Most of the book’s emphasis is on the fear factor of a malevolent haunting, but even that leaves time for a single mother to find love. What’s noteworthy is how   lovable her beau really is! Nick Hasken is an all-around sweetheart, a science professor with a love of karate, ballroom dancing, and really nerdy ties and T-shirts. Even more refreshing, he’s not your average bodice-ripping muscleman from the cover of a Harlequin romance. He has a bit of a belly, an awkward sense of fashion, and ever-present chemical stains on his skin from the science lab. But I’ve rarely found a love interest so endearing in any book I’ve read! (To carry the point forward, the evil ex-husband is repeatedly described as “handsome”. Looks really aren’t everything here!)


Knockout by Catherine Coulter

Cover art for Knockout. Image via Amazon.

Title: Knockout

Author: Catherine Coulter

Year of Publication: 2009

Genre Keywords: action/adventure,crime,  FBI, kidnapping, paranormal, psychic powers, suspense, thriller.

Summary: A little girl named Autumn has a larger-than-life power: the ability to talk telepathically to others who share her gift. But the sinister family from which she’s inherited it will stop at nothing to get Autumn on their side so they can take advantage of her powers, and she and her mother are on the run. After seeing Agent Dillon Savich on television, she uses her extraordinary brain to call on him for help, and Dillon becomes deeply involved in trying to save her. At the same time, he and his wife Agent Lacey Sherlock pursue a pair of young bank robbers driven forward by an out-of-control teen girl bent on revenge for the robbery-gone-wrong that killed her mother.

Who’ll Love It: Thriller fans who thrive on action and suspense will get sucked right into the high-stakes, high-energy story. Looking from a different angle, though, readers with an interest in dysfunctional families will be fascinated as well – the action grows out of a history of Autumn’s power-hungry relatives and why her father left the brood, and also out of the family dynamics that turned a mother-and-daughter bank-robbing team into a dead mother and an orphaned fugitive.

Series Alert! Catherine Coulter has been writing FBI thrillers about Dillon and Lacey – and other agents, too – since 1996. Find out more by visiting her website.

Ever Wonder “What’s the Harm?”

Some people believe strange things – live and let live, right? What’s the harm? Tim Farley, creator of What’sTheHarm.net, wants you to know. Why? Because he’s committed to critical thinking, and he wants to demonstrate that, in a lot of ways, failure to think critically can actually cause harm.

Tim Farley, creator of What's The Harm dot net

Tim Farley, creator of What'sTheHarm.net - trading card courtesy of My (Confined) Space.

The cases on What’sTheHarm.net cover a broad range of failures to think critically – from the plainly absurd, like driving into a building because the GPS said so, to the truly sinister, like families torn apart by repressed memory therapy gone awry. The consequences may be directly or indirectly related to the question at hand: one anecdote tells of a family who brawled with neighbours because one family’s decor disrupted the other’s feng shui. The consequences of each incident are given in terms of financial loss, jail time, injury, or loss of life; the site estimates “368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured, and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages”.

But the real point of focus is that these consequences are not abstract; they happen to real people just like you and me. And the harm done might affect the person who’s failing to think critically, but often it also affects others, sometimes primarily. Each page repeats the same unifying coda: “Here are [x] people who were harmed by someone not thinking critically.”

From what I can tell, Tim Farley considers all the things he debunks on his website, from acupuncture to witchcraft, absolutely false and deceptive. I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far in every case. Some of it – like Holocaust denial or refusing children blood transfusions – I’m absolutely with him. But are ghosts real? Could there be actual psychics? How about demons? I hesitate to say that, just because science cannot detect them, they aren’t real. After all, science deals with material things, and I believe reality goes beyond the strictly material.

Other things are grey areas. For instance, the section on chiropractic medicine lists cases in which chiropractors seriously injured patients, which is horrible. But are these valid indictments of chiropractic practice as a whole, or cases of unscrupulous or incompetent practitioners, or simply people making mistakes? The same could be said of psychics who lie or fail, and in many other areas of the site. Cases of failure or swindling do not necessarily make the practice false.

Farley acknowledges – and for the critical thinker, this is important – that his site proves nothing. It’s all anecdotal. But anecdotes can be powerful in convincing people to think carefully about the decisions they’re making and the potential effects.

Which, in the end, is all that this site is about. No one is trying to make you a non-believer: believe it or don’t. Non-believers will support the site for promoting accurate information to answer the question, “What’s the harm?” And for the true believer, weeding out the fakers and swindlers is crucial to winning credibility for the Cause, whatever it may be. Get rid of the fake psychics, for instance, and the real ones – if they exist – might be able to gain some respect.

In short, whatever you believe, you should check out What’sTheHarm.net if you have an interest in any of the following topics:

  • Alternative medicines and physical therapies
  • Autism and vaccination
  • Communication, information, and misinformation
  • Conspiracy theories, particularly [insert noun here] denial
  • Divination, prophecy, and predicting the future
  • Health care
  • ‘Natural’ or ‘organic’  lifestyles
  • Paranormal topics
  • Religions, especially those that are perhaps not-so-mainstream

Image courtesy of Western Michigan University.

If nothing else, it gives you a starting place for a fresh inquiry into whatever field interests you, and highlights the red flags you’ll need to watch out for to protect yourself from fraudsters. Even something that’s true can involve some shady characters, and the topics covered on What’sTheHarm.net have varying levels of credibility.

Critical thinking does matter, and the lack of critical thinking can cause problems. This website gives us a great starting place for talking about why.

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