Vera Van Slyke was a muckraking journalist who crusaded against Spiritualist mediums, confident they were all fakes. But she was also a ghost hunter with proof that spirits actually do haunt the living. “Ghosts are like cats,” Vera once explained. “They’re real, but they hardly come when called.”
One Spiritualist medium Vera defrauded was Lida Prášilová. The fake psychic agreed to share her professional secrets with the journalist, which led to a ghost hunt – which led to a deep friendship. Chronicling the ghostly investigations she shared with Vera, Lida became a Watson to a very distinctive Holmes.
With laughs and chills, the chronicles span from 1899 to 1909 – a decade of ghostly mysteries – and you’ll find them here in Help for the Haunted. Join Vera and Lida as they prowl through lonely mansions, bustling theaters, and underground tunnels to unravel the riddles of the Great Beyond . . . and beyond!
294 pages, trade paperback
“Help for the Haunted is a fun collection of linked short stories, based around a creative theory as to why ghosts are able to return to the plane of the living, and a cute way of detecting these crossovers. Within that framework fall all manner of ghosts and manifestations; every story offers a different kind.” — Nina Zumel, Multo (Ghost)
“The stories have a lot of humor, but have chilling moments too. . . . I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s nice to see two women doing things in fiction.” — Katherine Nabity, The Writerly Reader.
“It’s one of the strengths of Tim Prasil’s writing that he absolutely shows, rather than tells. He has a facility for allowing the reader to understand what his characters are thinking and feeling without stating it outright, which lends a great deal of veracity to his storytelling.” — Dave Brzeski, Occult Detective Quarterly.
Over a dozen pleased readers have left additional reviews at Amazon!
A Sample Ghost Hunt
Help for the Haunted is what’s called a composite novel or a short story cycle. In other words, while each chapter features a distinct ghostly investigation, they should be read in sequence because the main characters evolve and minor characters return.
Nonetheless, the fifth chapter, “A Burden that Burns,” works well to introduce readers to the world of ghost hunter Vera Van Slyke. Please view or download this .pdf copy of that chronicle:
The History behind the Hauntings
Much of the fun of Help for the Haunted is the very real history that’s central to many of the stories. “Houdini Slept Here” spotlights the famous escape artist, for instance, and the facts given about his career and his two houses are verifiable. Henry Thorn Lord, the seaman in “An Unanchored Man, and Peter M. Hoffman, the coroner in “Vampire Particles,” are also real historical figures. The epidemics at Fort Pitt and Fort Dearborn, the house with round corners, the Fugitive Slave Act, the newspaper reports on a “wild man in the woods” roaming Arkansas, and several other key elements are entirely real.
I review the history underlying the Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries series — and provide links to online documents confirming it — on a page titled The Life and Ghosts of Vera Van Slyke. It’s an excellent way to discover what Vera and Lida’s adventures are about, or if you’ve already read them, it’s an interesting “appendix”!