Books

Review: A revealing look into Victoria’s secrets

Victoria’s Most Haunted: Ghost Stories from BC’s Historic Capital City

by Ian Gibbs

Touchwood Editions, Canada, 2017

3.5/5

As I dipped my mental toe into the waters of Ian Gibbs’ Victoria’s Most Haunted, I realized the opening vignette was very familiar.

Back in 2013, my wife and I had stayed at the Gatsby Inn, and upon taking a ghost walk, which I’m inclined to do wherever I go in the country, we ended our tour with guide John Adams at our very own lodgings.

My wife flashed me the look, the one most husbands know, and sometimes dread, as Mr. Adams shared the story of Ernest Pendray and his decapitating Waterloo. Furthermore, there was the talk of his residency in Room 5 of the now aptly renamed Pendray Inn and Tea House.

With that hot memory flooding into my internal dialogue, I powered through Gibbs’ book with only a few trips and bumps over missing paragraph breaks, words, spaces and the odd typo here and there.

Really anything missing, but known, matches nicely with the phantom encounters within the book.

I’ve grown far more attracted to Victoria as a Canadian burg because of Gibbs’ package of personal anecdotes and casual conversations with colleagues harkens back to a Hans Holzer’s Ghost Hunter book.

But, instead of traipsing around New York state, we have the investigations of a city that cherishes its architectural successes. Gibbs is a boulevardier of sorts, milling about the British Columbian capital.

That tie to the community not only creates an intimacy with the burg, but an intimacy with the history.

I am slightly disappointed the Robert Bateman Centre was not mentioned, but that’s a fleeting, out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye moment that can be disregarded as a piece of undigested fruit.

Outside of the aforementioned typo, missing word and missing spaces — a bane of many an editor — the book comes together soundly.

I would have also liked clearer transitions as some of the chapters fuse together differing locations. Either a subhead or even a segue would create less confusion.

The effect can be shrugged off as the moment a ghost walks through a wall.

There are no barriers in Victoria’s Most Haunted — physical or intangible.

Photo courtesy Touchwood Editions

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