Rating: 3 Stars
As is usually the issue with a book like this, there is so little solid history. That is what I love about a good ghost story, when the history can be traced and there is some concrete proof of who the spirits were in life. The McBride House stands now in the oldest town in Oklahoma by its original owner, George McBride. Apparently he loved the house so much, he refuses to leave.
All sorts of occurrences are documented here by one of the owners of the home, Cecilia Back. She and her family lived in the home for approximately 25 years. But all while I was reading, something felt off and for a while I could not figure it out but as I read, I realized that honestly, the author's reactions to the home and supposed spirits never really make sense. Sometimes she seems utterly terrified and other times the strange goings-on don't cause much of a reaction at all. I feel like if the family was really all that scared of their fellow residents, they would not have opened the house up for tours and such. Nor would they have stayed so long. Perhaps there was some embellishment? Who knows.
Still, some of the occurrences are intriguing - the ghostly parties at 2 AM, complete with loud chatter and clinking glasses to keep everyone awake, dolls talking even after batteries are removed, loud bangs and crashes that can't be identified, screams, and family members and their guests being beckoned by name. When the family began repairs and restorations, the repairmen often had trouble getting work done because tools and materials would disappear. The one I could not abide would the strange odors of decay, that would make me vomit and be far more disturbing to me, followed a close second by the screaming/shrieking.
Aside from the house itself, I am also curious about Fort Gibson just across the road. The concept of sharing ghosts is interesting and does not seem terribly far-fetched when considering the period the hauntings seem to come from. I'd love to explore the whole area some day and see what I can see. Many people have reported seeing one of the ghost's looking out the window, if I recall correctly I believe it is the little boy.
Which leads right to my next point and that is, according to Back, the ghost has not one, but four different spirits. Based on her interactions, Back has determined that aside from McBride, there is a woman who is dressed in Victorian-era clothing and wears perfume, then a girl around eight and boy of maybe five. Back writes that her family loved their home and eventually began to think of the invisible residents as part of the family too - again something that seems odd to me if she was ever really all that scared of any of the spirits. And maybe this is not how she intends it to come across at all, but it just doesn't quite make sense to me.
I might able to write it all off as being a result of the day-to-day living with them though, where for a while you get lulled into the false sense of everything being calm, to sudden shrieking that scares the daylights out of you. I have personally experienced both kinds of 'hauntings', those that come from living with a spirit and also those of just visiting - though haunting does not seem to be the right word, because I have never felt that any of my experiences were scary (such as The Stanley in Estes Park, CO and the The Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, MN, as well as my former apartment where Ghost Baby and I lived together for five peaceful years).
I always want to believe all of these books and experiences, but I find it odd that the family lived in the house for such a long time, and never got any tangible evidence that they could show. Or maybe they did and chose not share it? I don't know, but there's no reference to any such evidence. I think that part of a story like this is also important, but even so you will always have critics saying that it is doctored in some way.
Overall it is not the worst paranormal book I have ever read, but not the best either (that honor still belongs to Richard Estep's Spirits of the Cage, about life in a former medieval prison). There are some intriguing experiences but still, I want to know more of the history - something that simply may not be possible. It's a quick read and one that isn't a terrible way to spend a couple hours.