Book Case #88 – Mammoth Mountain Poltergeist

Book and Author Details:
MMP on Good Reads
MMP on Amazon
Jenny Ashford’s Website
Jenny Ashford’s Facebook

Description from Author:

In December of 1982, when Tom Ross was thirteen years old, he took a week’s vacation to Mammoth Lakes in California with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. Almost from the moment they arrived at their condo, they experienced a near-constant barrage of bizarre phenomena that escalated over their stay, and seemed to follow them after they left. Items moved around by themselves, shades flew open when no one was near them, bloody tissues appeared out of nowhere, words appeared on windows in empty rooms, a blue haze seemed to hover near the ceiling, a door chain was broken from the inside by what appeared to be a clawed hand, and disembodied voices emerged from corners.

The family was simultaneously terrified and amazed. Thirty-two years later, the four witnesses decided to tell their story.

My Review:
I received this book as an ARC, author review copy. I was excited to get my hands on a novel about a real life haunting experience.

The novel outlines a family vacation to Mammoth Mountains in California. It is based in the late 70s, featuring an aunt and uncle, their child and his cousin, Tom. The author interviewed and constructed a storyline of events from their eye witness accounts. The poltergeist activity is everything from furniture moving to a strange blue mist. I was really engaged to the tales of activity.

Chapters 12-14 featured a break down of the paranormal field, pseudo-science, and eventually into the skepticism view points. While I found the experiences laid out by the family incredible and believable, I also found  that the section on skepticism a bit condescending. I understand that the author is a hard core unbeliever, but I felt that she pushed her views in a sense that made believers, such as myself, a bit put down for believing in spirits.

I am sure that wasn’t the author’s intention, it really came across in her writing. In fairness, the foreword in the novel does indicate that she’s a horror novel writer, and a firm believer in the more skeptical side of things. I would loved to have seen it pinned by both believers and skeptics for a more balanced view.
In her words,

I am also, rather relevantly, the most hard-line of skeptics. I have been an atheist since I was old enough to make such a distinction. I spend my free time devouring books by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris,Christopher Hitchens. I faithfully read every issue of magazines like Skeptical Inquirer, Scientific American, Skeptic,and The Humanist, and enjoy following scientific and “debunking” blogs. I mention all this to establish the fact that I am a rationalist, a pragmatist, a realist down to my core. I emphatically do not believe in ghosts or in any aspect of what is termed “the supernatural.”

With that said, I am a bit insulted in the idea that those who are believers are some how irrational, especially as a psychic medium who wholeheartedly believes. If her goal was only to stoke a fire and get people heated for a debate, she did a job well done.

Her strength in horror writing, however, does play a wonderful role in helping construct this novel. The first part of the story, she did a wonderful job of adding suspense and spooky to the poltergeist tales. 

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