By Hannah Evans
Spooky season may have come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t curl up with a good book and indulge in some frightening tales as the weather gets colder.
Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes’ “A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts” (2022, Citadel Press) is a great candidate to do just that with, especially since it has a fun local tiein — Goldspot Brewing Company, 4970 Lowell Blvd., currently has an Invisible Women blonde stout on tap, as well as copies available for purchase to peruse while sipping.
Written by two ghost tour guides, “Invisible Women” presents the topic of hauntings from a perspective of belief while still acknowledging and grappling with skepticism.
Janes admits, “When you’re dealing with ghosts, determining what is true is a impossibility,” but this interesting read certainly does its best.
Packed with historic research and a critical eye toward the ways these stories are told, “Invisible Women” reads a bit like a college text with its wealth of cited sources, but don’t let that fool you into believing it might be dry—Hieber and Janes translate their tour guide talent to the page with easily digestible sections on a plethora of stories, while peppering in personal accounts along the way.
Investigating hauntings all over the country, some tales like that of Lizzie Borden’s estate and the Winchester Mystery House will be familiar to many, while collections of larger topics like “Dark Academia: Ghosts of College Campuses” and “American Succubi: Soiled Doves of the Frontier” analyze a variety of “ghostlore” stories under a broader theme.
“Invisible Women” searches for the human tales behind a given location’s haunting, delving into the common tropes of female ghosts as well as the noticeably gendered interest in hauntings—the introduction points out that by and large, many more women seem to take ghost tours than their male counterparts.
Believer in spirits or not, anyone interested in history or cultural context will find “Invisible Women” full of fascinating backstory as well as a very human mission to bring voices to the deceased, many of whom faced tragedy in life and in death (but not all—stories of lighthearted hauntings are included as well, such as the “celebrated, beloved, trailblazer of a woman” Ma Greene and her beloved steamboat she is thought to keep a watchful eye over).
Check out “Invisible Women” at your closest Denver Public Library location.
Hannah Evans is the senior librarian at the Smiley Branch of the Denver Public Library.