Janice’s Review Blog

Author spins ghost stories, shares Old West history

Posted on: June 9, 2013

In “Haunted Old West: Phantom Cowboys, Spirit-Filled Saloons, Mystical Mine Camps, and Spectral Indians,’ author Matthew P. Mayo spins frightening ghost stories and shares Old West history with spell-bound readers.

Matthew P. Mayo writes a spellbinding book on the "Haunted Old West."

Matthew P. Mayo writes a spellbinding book on the “Haunted Old West.”

Mayo divides this ghostly paperback into six parts which include Wagon Trail, Express Station & Train Track; Mine Camp, Boom Town & Graveyard; Hotel, Brothel & Saloon; Prison, Fort & Battlefield; Ranch, Mansion & Market; and Cowboy, Indian & Beast. A total of 28 chapters make up these six parts and each one tells a unique story and shares the history associated with the area or place specified.

Some stories like the Donner Party, La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) and Winchester Mystery House may be familiar to readers. Others like Dead Man’s Canyon, Ghost Town of Garnet and Neches River Hell Riders tend to tell new stories that many never heard.

The tales begin with a point of location and a brief summary of the event. Then the author weaves a historical tale, but also fills each chapter with a current event story. He tells of spirits that haunt former areas where they resided or of others that continue to guard belongs in deserted ghost towns or Indian ruins.

Some stories like the Spirits of the Anasazi bring chills to the reader as Mayo describes how the thoughtless actions of a visitor bring out an avenging spirit, who gives the visitor no peace until she replaces the artifact she’s taken, or The Living Hell of Yuma Prison which describes the appearance of the ghost who lives in cell 14. Readers may laugh at the antics of Seth Bullock in Ghost Host of the Bullock as he kindly takes a lost little boy back to his room, let’s hotel employees know when they’re not working or playfully pats an eligible lady’s hip and then chuckles as he leaves her room.

The book not only entertains the reader, but also imparts a great deal of Old West history to the reader. Mayo includes Appendix A with an abbreviated list of resources he used in the form of books and websites for readers’ information. He also includes Appendix B which gives added contact and location information for each location he included in the book.

The book’s a wonderful read and reminds the reader of the stories one tells on a dark night around the campfire that keep listeners awake or sleeping with one eye open for the rest of the night. I recommend the book to those who love ghosts stories, history and the Old West.

© 2013 Janice Semmel


1 Response to "Author spins ghost stories, shares Old West history"

Good review. This sounds like my kind of book. New Mexico has its fair share of legends, ghost stories and ghost towns. Actually, there are a few hotels I won’t even stay in around here. Not that they lack for people who will.

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