PHANTOM FELINES by Gerina Dunwich (many very fun short stories written by multiple contributors rolled into one book and edited/coordinated by Gerina Dunwich).
Before I begin writing the review for this book, let me first explain that before Doug and I moved into this little rambler, that we own for our home, I never even considered that animals might become ghosts that haunt any home. I'll admit that part of my naivety about ghosts had stemmed from the religion that I was taught during childhood, where strict dogma insisted the "dead know nothing" and "the dead are sleeping" (e.g., book of Ecclesiastes) where no spirit would wake until Jesus returned (book of Revelations). Point now is - after many years of not believing in ghosts at all, then becoming an adult and having exposure to multiple phenomena that convinced me spirits were definitely active and real - I still had not considered that animal's might stick around a particular home to haunt it.
So when living and breathing humans visited our home and started reporting that they saw a phantom cat either at the end of the hallway, or one person saw it walk through the middle of the couch ... I felt perplexed but entertained by their stories that described the same size medium-hair dark feline in shadow form and I took careful notice because I had often felt an invisible cat walk on my bed (while I was laying in it) on more than a few occasions. I kept dismissing the "cat walking on the bed" experience as though I was just imagining things. Then one day my spouse admitted he saw the dark ghostly cat too.
On the night when I finally felt convinced that animals can definitely appear as spirits, my eldest sister and I were sitting and just talking in the living room. That's when a VHS cartridge suddenly scooted forward on the book shelf and fell (seemingly on its own volition) to the floor. My sister was instantly horrified.
"It's probably just the ghost-cat" I said, comfortingly, since it was easy to imagine a cat walking along that shelf and knocking things down as it stepped. In truth, I had no other logical explanation to offer for what could possibly have made that video scoot away from all the others and fall. I certainly had not heard any weird voices or felt any cold spots. There was nothing about the front room to make either of us feel alarmed (until that happened). I certainly had not been hearing any spirit-voices of any kind.
SO NOW FOR THE REVIEW
You can see, after reading the above admission, why I might pick up such a book called "Phantom Felines." I had suppose there would be something very comforting about reading a book by other writers who are having experiences that are just as crazy-sounding as my own. This book definitely provided that connection for me. I would admit to anyone that for the most part I really enjoyed reading it.
THREE RESERVATIONS ABOUT PHANTOM FELINES - QUANTIFIED
I have a little anxiety about suggesting this book to someone else to read for one major reason (out of three reservations). After I reached the middle of the book, there began such dreadful stories describing terrible animal cruelty - the worst sort of animal-beating-deaths imaginable. What troubled me even more was that various contributors who submitted such stories claimed that it was violence that caused those animals to haunt the premises. By the third short story on this theme, I had to quit reading. (Visualizing animal abuse just really breaks my heart and I lost all interest in reading such stories.)
Second reservation: while you might find some pretty solid logical evidence in some of the tales presented here, and you might be able to deduce that ghost-animals exist, you won't find any hard scientific facts in that regard. Even with my personal experiences, described above, I felt some of the stories presented here were lacking in believability and felt a much more common and logical explanation could easily explain away what the contributor had experienced and assumed was a ghost-animal.
Third and final reservation: because Phantom Felines is written by multiple contributors, some stories run along too similar a theme and occasionally I felt I was reading the same sort of story time and again. This last admission is rather easy to overlook (at least I didn't mind the redundant them too terribly much).
WHAT I REALLY LIKED
The three reservations aside, I especially enjoyed reading a couple different animal-spirit myths where an entire village might share the same ghost-cat or demon-dog story and, when disbelievers came to town and saw the metaphysical creature for themselves, they would be so convinced of their own foolish denial that they ended up writing some of the most interesting stories in this book.
ENDING WITH A NOT SO CHILLING BOOK SAMPLE (the shortest story in the book - to quantify how some stories are NOT as fabulous as others)
"The Ghost Dog of Pondtown Creek" by Gerina Dunwich
The frightful apparition of a large white dog haunts the road near a small wooden bridge that crosses Pondtown Creek in Hartford, Alabama. According to local legend, a man was driving on the road when a German Shepherd suddenly darted out in front of him. His car hit the dog. But instead of stopping to help the dog this heartless individual drove off, leaving the poor animal to die from its injuries. It is said that on moonless nights, the dog's ghost wanders the road searching for the driver who took its life. Sometimes it can be heard howling as well.