Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: The Ghosts of Chicago

Title: The Ghosts of Chicago: The Windy City's Most Famous Haunts
Author: Adam Selzer
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 8th 2013
Source: Netgalley/Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd


Rounded up to four stars.

It's no secret to most Americans that Chicago has a dark past. From dangerous mills and factories to housing projects and camps, to the long history of political corruption and gangsters, Chicago's past is heavily tangled with murder and strange deaths. Every building has a story, and Adam Selzer gives a tour of a wide variety of haunted places in the Chicago area.


This book is broken into chapters by location. The author provides deep, well-researched histories to the ghosts (or of those that the ghost is rumored to be), as well as a summation of ghost sightings. What I really like about Adam Selzer's book is that he gives addresses and locations of the sites that he mentions. If a building isn't there any more, then he tries his best to describe where it used to be, so that interested hunters may seek it out. He takes it a step further, telling the reader just how likely the owners or staff are to talk about the hauntings. If an owner hates ghost hunters, the author is sure to warn you of that fact (Selzer also warns you if a neighborhood isn't really safe to wander).

This book is rich in Chicago history, and as a native Chicagoan I was kind of surprised how few of these stories I knew. A few more famous legends included in this book are that of H.H. Holmes and The Eastland disaster. Then there are lesser known stories, such as a local tattoo parlor and a well known high rise. And of course, there's plenty of cemeteries to go 'round!

It was no surprise to me when I learned that Adam Selzer was a tour guide. The book is written with a sense of humor and a certain upbeat, passionate attitude. I also appreciated that he was quick to say that no evidence is concrete, and that no story is 100% truthful. I have been on ghost tours in other cities where guides swear by the ghosts/sightings, and it admittedly made me not believe them. If Adam somehow gets a chance to read this review, this suburban girl is happy to blog about a tour too, if invited! (Joking.) [Mostly.]

I recommend this book to those interested in paranormal activity or murder stories, anyone from Chicago, or anyone planning to go to Chicago. I feel that this book is a great companion to anyone wanting to check out some history without the help of a guide, though with his humor, I'd recommend checking out his tour company too.

Thank you to Netgalley and Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. for my copy of this book.


  1. Wow, this sounds like a great book to read, and another I want to steal from you! Amazing review as always, I can never get enough!

  2. Hi Jillyn. I'm not running tours for Weird Chicago anymore (they used an old bio in the uncorrected arcs), but still running a couple hundred per year for Chicago Hauntings. Check your email!

    1. Oh, I'm glad to hear that you're still doing tours. I'll check my mail right now :)