Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus

American Ghost: A Family's Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest is a 2015 book by Hannah Nordhaus. La Posada hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been haunted by Julia Schuster Stabb, the author's great-great-grandmother, since the 1970s. Julia lived from 1844 to 1896 and is the most well-known ghost in Santa Fe; she is most often seen in the room that used to be her bedroom back when the hotel was her family's house. Nordhaus says that Julia's story is one of "forbidden love, inheritance and disinheritance, anger and madness" (pg. 8) and that there have been rumors that Julia committed suicide or was murdered by her husband, and of course that made me want to know more.

Nordhaus found a book of her family's history at a relative's house and discovered that she wanted to know more about Julia's life and death, so she did historical research and met with psychics and paranormal investigators. She also tracked down a diary written by one of Julia's daughters and spoke to a former La Posada employee who had seen Julia's ghost. She traveled to New Mexico and Germany to find as much information about Julia as she that's dedication!

Though Nordhaus did experience some paranormal activity when she spent a night in Julia's former bedroom at La Posada, I wouldn't consider American Ghost to be a paranormal book (which makes it different from all of the other books I've reviewed for this blog) since it focuses more on Julia's life than her afterlife. The paranormal aspect was what drew me to this book, but finding out who Julia was and how she lived was really interesting. I was surprised that I ended up being so invested in the life of someone I'd never heard of, but I was pretty enthralled by the mystery of Julia.

My rating: 8/10

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