In honor of Halloween: A Book Review of Haunted Girl

Every Halloween I look at an international mystery or folklore. This year, I’ll review a book by Laurie Glenn Norris and

Leon Trotsky spent time incarcerated in Amherst, Nova Scotia after World War One.
Leon Trotsky spent time incarcerated in Amherst, Nova Scotia after World War One. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Barbara Thompson titled Haunted Girl: Esther Cox and the Great Amherst Mystery. The book examines events surrounding one of the most famous poltergeist cases in Canadian history, which took place from 1878 to 1879. As the authors note, these events have been the subject of a 19th century non-fiction book, a novel, a mural, a play and a doll. At the core of this tradition is the biography of Esther Cox, who was an 18 year old when she claimed to experience a series of terrifying incidents, which included moving furniture, bodily wounds, and spectral writing on a bedroom wall.

Norris and Thompson place these events into the context of Nova Scotia at the time, and Esther Cox’s own troubled personal life. The work is scholarly, and the authors have investigated all aspects of Esther’s world in impressive detail. Still, the authors never wander from their focus on Esther herself, which makes for an engaging work. The book also benefits from a plethora of photographs, which allow us to visualize key actors and locations. Having written my own book on Canadian folklore (Dangerous Spirits, which is available in the US and in Canada) I can imagine the amount of time that these photographs must have required to locate. …