Is there any better way to beat the dog days of summer than with a chilling story? Personally, I don’t think so. To that end, I’m over the moon excited to read The Rattled Bones, by S.M. Parker. This eerie book follows Rilla Brae, a tough-as-nails young woman embroiled in an eerie mystery surrounding an island off the coast of Maine whose inhabitants were forcibly evicted almost a century ago. This now mostly uninhabited island draws in Rilla with ghostly visions, which lead her to realize that her past and the island’s history are deeply intertwined. In preparation for this fantastic new title, and since this book is based on true events that occurred in Maine, I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite spooky ghost stories, folk tales, and locations!
1 – The Headless Horseman – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, written by Washington Irving in 1820 and brought to the screen by Disney in 1949, has woven itself tightly into American pop culture. Telling the story of a headless Hessian horseman who died during the Revolutionary War and now haunts the village of Sleepy Hollow, searching for his lost head and chasing travelers. Though the story was fabricated by Irving using elements of traditional European folklore, I dare you to visit the woods surrounding Sleepy Hollow and not feel a little more sensitive to the sounds of horse hooves.
2 – La Llorona – Originating in Northern Mexico and the American southwest, La Llorona is a tragic spectral being. While many stories exist surrounding the origins of La Llorona, most focus on a woman who drowns her children in a river to spite her husband after he leaves her for another woman. Shocked at what she had done, she then drowned herself. Now, her spirit roams the earth, searching for her lost children. She approaches travelers, wailing, and asking them if they know where her children are, before vanishing.
3 – Boo Hag – This creature comes from Gullah culture in the Carolina low country. Similar to the the vampire myth, boo hags feed on the living, with in important distinction — they feast on a victim’s breath, not their blood. The Boo Hag gains access to its victims by slipping through a crick in the wall or an open window, and then cap Perhaps their most Boo Hags have no skin, existing as a red mass of muscle and sinew. If a victim struggles while their breath is being taken, the Boo Hag may skin them, wearing the hide until it is used up and the Boo Hag is forced to find a new skin. **Shudder**
4 – The Wendigo – The Algonquin-speaking tribes of North America feared this mythical creature. Often described as a gaunt, rotting corpse, this violent entity strongly tied to winter, coldness, famine and starvation. It is an embodiment of greed, never satisfied with eating just one human. The legend of the Wendigo can vary greatly, with some portrayals seeing it as a giant, growing with each human that it eats. Regardless, this is a terrifying legend, and it makes each snowy winter day a little more unsettling.
5 – The Jersey Devil – This tale goes back to 1735, and centers on the Leeds family. The legend states that Mrs. Leeds, giving birth to her 13th child, cried out that her child would be born a devil. Though the child was born normal, it quickly became monster, with thee head of a goat, bat like wings, horns, claws, cloven hooves and a forked tail. Since then, sightings of the Jersey Devil have included people like Commodore Stephen Decatur, and Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the one-time French emperor. Thought signings of the Jersey Devil have slowed in the last century, the size and creepiness of the New Jersey Pine Barrens do make you wonder if there might be something hiding there.
Have I missed any of your favorite spooky tales or legends? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out The Rattled Bones, on sale now!