Marcus LiBrizzi,
Dark Woods, Chill Waters
(Down East, 2007)

I've read a lot of ghost stories over the years, and my favorites are usually those that claim to be true. Sitting down with a collection of regional ghost stories is a great way to pass the time, perhaps because my own stomping grounds are relatively hauntless.

Sometimes, though, the books are more comical than scary. Worse, they sometimes strive to make something "horrifying" out of little or nothing at all. A few of the goods ones are genuinely creepy.

But I'm not sure if I've ever read a collection as unnerving as Dark Woods, Chill Waters.

This slim volume by Marcus LiBrizzi collects tales from Down East Maine, a sparsely populated and largely undeveloped region that is, to hear LiBrizzi tell it, hopping with ghosts, demons and unexplained phenomena.

I usually include some hints of what you'll find in a book in my reviews, but this time I'd prefer to let you discover it all on your own. I don't want to risk giving away any clues that might reduce the impact of LiBrizzi's narrative, which encompasses everything from ghostly hitchhikers and sea captains to demonic spirits and a cursed waterfall. But let me assure you, if you are prone to being spooked anyway, don't even consider reading this when you're alone in the house at night. The stories are legitimately spine-tingling, and you will find yourself starting at every creak or shadow.

Well done, Marcus. This is an excellent collection that shows other ghost hunters how it should be done.

review by
Tom Knapp

7 February 2009

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