James Caskey established himself as an entertaining writer, a careful researcher, and a fine historian with his books Haunted Savannah and Haunted History of New Orleans. Coincidentally, with Charleston Ghosts, he completes his paranormal study of my three favorite cities. But even for those readers who have not yet embraced the charm, often dark history, and supernatural abundance of these three cities, these books will be fascinating. In fact, Haunted Charleston would make an excellent introduction and tour guide for any first-time visitor.
Caskey includes many well-known locations in his book, including early establishments like Philadelphia Alley, home of many duels, The Old Provost Dungeon and The Old Jail, places seeped in misery for long periods of time and now steeped in legend. While Caskey debunks some of the legendary details of these places, he does not claim that they are not haunted. And when he tackles the stories of pirates, crossed lovers, fatally flawed friendships, and murderers like Lavinia and John Fisher, he often peels away much of the folklore that has accrued over the years and uncovers the true facts, which may be quite different; but in Charleston, the result is often even more interesting than the tales, and the Fisher tale is a perfect example of that.
Not every haunted place in Charleston is old, and Caskey embraces the newer haunted places, especially those that also offer delicious food and drink. There is never any question that he is enjoying his time in the city and appreciating its beauty and its culture as much as he is savoring learning about its ghostly secrets. He visits hotels and inns like the Francis Marion Hotel and The Jasmine House Inn, and restaurants like Poogan’s Porch and Bocci Italian Restaurant. He samples more than one kind of spirit in taverns like Mad River Bar and Grille and The Blind Tiger Pub. Readers will be hungry to visit these places themselves to enjoy them with or without ghost encounters.
One could hardly write about Charleston and the paranormal without at least a brief discussion of Gullah culture and hoodoo. Caskey gives an interesting glimpse into that complex and fascinating belief system, especially as it relates to the dead.
Without doubt, this is the best collection of information and photos of Charleston and its haunted places since the classic Charleston Ghosts written by Margaret Rhett Martin in the 1970s. I can’t wait to see what Caskey covers next.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00L6H9AWA]