Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: Haunted Naperville

Title: Haunted Naperville
Author: Diane Ladley (author’s website)
Genre: history
Price: $24.95
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-7385-6122-6
Point of Sale: publisher
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Please note updated information below

Diane Ladley is a fellow member of the Naperville Science Fiction Writers Group and she mentioned at a meeting that she had published a book about ghosts in Naperville. My curiosity was piqued, and she was able to send me an electronic copy of her work, Haunted Naperville.

Now, I do not believe in ghosts. However, I am interested in history, and that’s the vein in which I reviewed Diane’s book. As a work of local history, I found Haunted Naperville a perfectly lovely read. Diane opens the book with “The Amorous Apparition of Fifth Avenue Station.” Here, she tells the tale of a fatal passenger train crash in April 1946, which she then ties to the use of a nearby factory as a temporary morgue. The factory was converted to mixed use, and a pair of condo dwellers tells the story of a ghost who was apparently making advances on the lady of the condo.

Like I said, I don’t believe in ghosts. But Diane’s account of the train wreck, including several archival news photos, is an interesting snap shot into history. Diane also tells the story of how the factory came to be, and what led to its conversion into condos and mixed use. I’ve actually been in the building, having dinner in a restaurant converted out of the factory’s boiler room (which still had the original boiler) so getting “the rest of the story” was fascinating.

Diane’s attention to this detail flows throughout the book. Most ghost stories are of the “it went bump in the night” variety, but here we get pictures of the buildings and people, as well as a glimpse into their lives. For example, Diane talks about the “Halfway House” which originally stood halfway between Naperville and Aurora. Not only do we hear about the haunting, we get a picture of the building and the story of its existence and move from its original location.

Haunted Naperville is written in a conversational style, but well organized into sections and well-researched. I would estimate that a quarter of the 160 pages are illustrated, and overall the book appears to be a solid piece of history. Diane’s publisher, Arcadia Publishing, is a relatively new operation. They appear to be exploiting print-on-demand publishing to target very small niche markets, that of people interested in a specific town or region. It’s an excellent use of POD, and I hope that the other books in their catalog meet this high standard of excellence.

Update 10/27/09 PJ Norlander, the director of marketing for Arcadia Publishing, emailed me today. Norlander points out that:

1) Arcadia has been in business since 1993, thus they don't consider themselves a new company.
2) Arcadia is not a POD publisher. They are a traditional publisher, and have nearly 6,000 titles in print.


Note – I received a free PDF download of the book reviewed, which remains my property.


Anonymous said...

The story about "Lost Children" on about page 131 I think says "Naperville in 1952... when a teenager was caught breaking a window at Highlands Elementary School." Actually, the school wasn't even built until 1957 ( I don't mind the made-up spooky stories as much as poorly researched facts about the town.

amyjobyers said...

I was the lady in chapter one in the condo (apartment). Yes, it was very real! I actually did feel the weight of a human try to slowly sneak in bed, curl up behind me and the weight of an arm over my waist. My heart was pounding. I hoped it was my husband, but it wasn't. I couldn't scream. And when it knew that I knew it wasn't my husband, it disappeared.

Vikash Kumar said...
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