Luke Naliborski | The Lighter Side of Darkness (Whitechapel Press)

book_ghostie.jpgNaliborski’s got an easygoing, talkative writing style. He explains the process, then details a number of his investigations.







In the world of ghosts and the after-life, there are believers, gawkers and skeptics. I fall solidly into the first category, having grown up with a ghost in my childhood home. We had nothing but good experiences with our ghost; she was obviously there to make her presence known and not to bother. But I know that, as with any medium that can’t be readily seen, ghost sightings are exploited and exaggerated, often in the name of profit. So for that reason, I approach any "true life" ghost story with a bit of trepidation.

Happily, Luke Naliborski’s debut book, The Lighter Side of Darkness: Misadventures Into the Unknown, proved trustworthy and down-to-earth. Naliborski’s a member of the American Ghost Society, a foundation based in Alton, Ill., whose sole purpose is to disprove ghost stories. The way it works is this: When a haunting is suspected, Luke and his cohorts are called in to investigate. They use hard evidence—recordings, photographs, video—in their attempts to prove or disprove the existence of spirits. It’s not that the AGS aren’t believers; quite the opposite. It’s just that they prove by failing to disprove.

Naliborski’s got an easygoing, talkative writing style. He explains the process, then details a number of his investigations. When there is legend or myth attached to a site, he explains this as well. The book’s an easy and fun read, not quite scary (but not quite appropriate bedtime reading, as I made it). It definitely piqued my interest about a number of locations detailed, including a number of rumored-to-be-haunted sites in Alton (our neighbor to the north is one of the most haunted cities in America, a fact I recently confirmed for myself on a Haunted Alton Tour just before Halloween) and the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Louisville, Ky.

My complaints are minor, yet nagging. For one, the book could have used a proofreader/editor. I hate to be picky, but editing is what I do, and I notice those things. Two, Naliborski is often too conversational, throwing in an aside or inside joke when it isn’t warranted. Three, each chapter, despite the locale, was headed with a photo of the Lemp Mansion; I would have preferred to see each location. And finally, he recounts investigations that turned up no sign of ghost activity…and for what purpose? Perhaps it is that he hasn’t had enough experiences to omit the strikeouts, but I felt almost set up and then let down when an investigation didn’t result in a confirmed haunting.

As for the Haunted Alton Tours, for which Naliborski is a guide? Never have I been more uncomfortable at the prospect of a spiritual encounter as I was on that tour. Alton is one messed up, haunted city; I am only too glad to live over the river and far away… | Laura Hamlett


More about Whitechapel Press, including a link to buy this book

More about the Haunted Alton Tour

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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