Bell Witch: An American Haunting

Bell Witch: An American Haunting

by Brent Monahan, Brent Monahan
     
 

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Known throughout Tennessee as "Old Kate," the Bell Witch took up residence with John Bell's family in 1818. It was a cruel and noisy spirit, given to rapping and gnawing sounds before it found its voices.

With these voices and its supernatural acts, the Bell Witch tormented the Bell family. This extraordinary book recounts the only documented case in U.S.

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Overview

Known throughout Tennessee as "Old Kate," the Bell Witch took up residence with John Bell's family in 1818. It was a cruel and noisy spirit, given to rapping and gnawing sounds before it found its voices.

With these voices and its supernatural acts, the Bell Witch tormented the Bell family. This extraordinary book recounts the only documented case in U.S. history when a spirit actually caused a man's death.

The local schoolteacher, Richard Powell, witnessed the strange events and recorded them for his daughter. His astonishing manuscript fell into the hands of novelist Brent Monahan, who has prepared the book for publication. Members of the Bell family have previously provided information on this fascinating case, but this book recounts the tale with novelistic vigor and verve. It is truly chilling.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Ever-intelligent horror novelist Monahan (The Blood of the Covenant, 1995, etc.) retells a true story—true as far as the participants knew—about a poltergeist.

The book purports to be a recently discovered manuscript written by Richard Powell, an eyewitness of the Bell Witch haunting in Robertson County, Tennessee, 181721. Monahan says that his first skeptical reading of the manuscript led him to six books confirming the authenticity of the events. Indeed, Richard Powell, the long-dead narrator, is himself a skeptic who seems to know all the devices of poltergeists, and in particular how poltergeist activity within a home reflects a family's psychic torment. Poltergeists (racket-makers) do not attack from without but rather are a spiritual pustule erupting from within a deeply troubled household. The poltergeist in this case seemed set on doing away with John Bell, the head of the family, while at the same time gradually evolving a rather homey tie with the other family members that lasted for three years and was witnessed by many. The spirit first showed up as something invisible gnawing nightly on bedposts, raining rocks on the roof, ripping covers off beds, and repeatedly slapping 12-year-old Betsy Bell and pulling her across the floor by her hair. At times the spirit allowed itself to be touched; it gathered news from afar for the family; lectured on theology; sang sweetly in four different voices; and rescued children in trouble. For three years, the spirit joked, lectured, ran off frauds and charlatans, and even nursed Bell's sick wife, producing nuts and berries for the invalid out of thin air. Even so, it afflicted the father with palsy, tics, and neuralgia, and at last watched him die. What produced the poltergeist? It's unfair to reveal here Monahan's reasonable yet supernatural answer.

More artful, if less exciting, than Monahan's brainy bloodsucker operas—but all immensely satisfying.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312150617
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/28/1997
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.28(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.76(d)

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