Non-Fiction: Supernatural

The Nearly Departed

Author: Michael Norman

Published By: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus


            A hauntingly good compilation of Minnesota ghost stories and legends, this book is a must read.  I highly enjoyed the fact that there were so many tales of local Minnesota lore.  I never would have thought that so many locations in the upper mid-west would contain such a rich amount of hauntings and ghostly sightings.  I guess I just thought of more of the east coast, where I live, as being a haunted area with the abundant history the New England area enjoys.

            The Nearly Departed is approximately 270 pages of documented ghostly tales that are meticulously broken down by the author with a feel that gives the reader the opportunity to draw their own conclusion as to whether the event that allegedly took place was in fact a haunting or something else.  I really enjoyed all of the witness accounts and history behind the stories.  Each story is presented with the history of the location which leads you into the tale and adds that much more pleasure to the individual story.   

            There are thirty three ghostfully good treats to enjoy in this read.  I must confess that I did have my favorites.  Peek-A-Boo is a tale of the Fitzgerald Theater which was haunted by the apparition of a male who seemed to take a liking to the box office area.  The male figure only seemed to appear when one or two workers were in the building and usually scared the heck out of them.   

            Frozen John is another favorite, the tragic story of a farmer who happened to be caught off guard by a blizzard on his way home on the prairie.  Unfortunately John would never make it home, but some unusual knocking disturbed the family on the night in question and it was never determined who the knocker was but a voice told Johnís wife that John had frozen to death.  Several people from town would tell of John trying to help them find his body. 

            The Night Clerk is not to be missed either.  A tale of the Palmer House Hotel, The Night Clerk tells us that ghosts cannot only be seen and heard but also can enjoy a nice drink after hours.  A young lady who worked as a night desk clerk at the hotel told us how she witnessed many different odd happenings.  Sometimes, she would set up the silverware for the morning breakfast and the silverware would be a mess an hour later.  Lights and TVís would go on and off inexplicably.  Then, one evening after the bar area had closed, she was asked by a patron if it was too late for a nightcap.  She served the man a glass of beer but could not make the change.  So she charged him less than what the beverage would normally go for.  In the morning, she explained to her manager that she had no change and that she would make up the difference for the price of the beer.  The manager looked at her strange and said that there were no guests. 

            These are just a couple of good stories that you will be missing out on if you donít pick up The Nearly Departed, scheduled for release in October 2009.  No respectable Halloween party should be without some really great ghost stories to share with your guests.  Go out and pick this book up.  I also need to give the author some extra credit because he didnít have to include an appendix of fifteen other ďfrightsĒ.  The appendix contains several other haunted locations that you may want to check into for your own interest.  It was a really nice touch as a finish to this book and I read them all. 


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