Written by: Tera Kirk
One of author Barbara Parks’s earliest memories is of being surrounded by red and blue lights in her cot at night. Then the lights would morph into children’s faces. Her ability to see spirits isn’t as clear now as it was when she was a child, but she can still help souls cross over into the spirit world, and help the dead communicate with the living.
Parks’s third book, Surrounded by Spirits, is a collection of ghost stories–paranormal experiences that have happened to her personally, or to relatives and friends. And “stories” is the key word here: the autor’s conversational style feels like she’s just chatting with you in her kitchen, and she writes with such love for the spirits that they all seem like old friends–even the mischievous ones. She writes that even when a ghost seems particularly frightening and vicious, “in most instances this type of manifestation is borne from the spirit’s own fear.”
In fact, one of her goals is to help children and adolescents–who can be especially attractive to spirits–cope with their paranormal experiences. Not only does she remember too well the haunting that terrified her during her own adolescence, but fear invites and feeds negative entities. Parks writes with boundless compassion for the living and the ghosts who haunt them, even when she admits to being scared herself.
Surrounded by Spirits is a fun read, and I couldn’t put it down. Even though I was a little skeptical, I wanted to know more about these funny, loving, sometimes-scary spirits that Barbara and others close to her knew, and who all were as much a part of families and social groups as the living. Whether or not the stories are true, they’re told so well that, in the end, it didn’t matter to me if the ghost stories were real. They were a joy to read, anyway.