Theresa Bane & Cynthia Moore Brown,
Folktales & Ghost Stories of North Carolina's Piedmont
(Schiffer, 2011)

The Piedmont is the central area of North Carolina between the mountains to the west and the coastline to the east. This beautiful region is not renowned for ghost stories and folktales like other areas of the country, but that's what's so interesting about this book -- its stories are unexpected and completely open to discovery.

Folktales & Ghost Stories of North Carolina's Piedmont is broken into chapters based mostly on cities, with one section focusing on graveyards. One section even ventures to the Carolina coast to Topsail Island (and whets this reviewer's appetite for more nautical-themed ghost stories). Included are some nice photographs that help illustrate the setting of the chapter without detracting from the stories.

The basic approach behind this book is to capture the storytelling performances by Cynthia Moore Brown and put them to paper, with co-author Theresa Bane adding verbiage to create the context and mood of Brown's storytelling sessions. In many instances, the authors succeed in creating that atmosphere, but unfortunately there are also several instances of the two co-authors' voices being noticeably different. In some cases, it's the switching from proper/correct grammar to informal/spoken-word incorrect grammar. And in a few instances, the voice obviously changes from Brown to Bane with one mentioning working at a particular library or referencing her husband. It's not exactly jarring, especially given how the book is clearly has two authors, but it does break up the established flow of the stories.

As far as ghost stories and folk tales go, there's always an inherent expectation of scariness. It's worth noting that most of these stories are told to younger crowds (typically elementary schools), so beyond mentioning a missing head or someone's murder, these stories are pretty much most-ages friendly. For those looking for creepy, spine-tingling stories of suspense, this is probably the tamest version you can find.

While this may not be the scariest collection of ghost stories and folktales, it is nonetheless an interesting grouping of stories, especially if you have even a passing familiarity with the locale. Add in the context of how these stories have typically been told, Bane and Brown certainly succeed in fostering an appreciation for the storytelling tradition. Perhaps a second or revised edition of this book could include an audio disc to add to the experience.

book review by
C. Nathan Coyle

27 August 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new