The Horror Zine Review
The Ghost Way
by Lance Smith and Kung Ramanakajja
Paperback: 112 pages
The Ghost Way
by Lance Smith and Kung Ramanakajja
Review by Jeani Rector
The Ghost Way, written by Lance Smith and Kung Ramanakajja, is not so much a novel as it is a documentary. This book would be ideal for readers with an interest in paranormal investigations, because the back cover blurb reads: The Ghost Way is the true story of the Ramanakajja family in Thailand during the mid 1970s....her family being driven out of their home on many nights by evil entities.
The Ghost Way is told by the parents to their youngest child, Kung. The book states that Kung kept asking questions and her mother eventually opened up with stories of the strange events that occurred at the family's cottage in the Malaysian Peninsula. From there, Kung translated the family's dark adventures with the paranormal into English. Hence, this book.
Because it is a documentary and not a novel, The Ghost Way reads as a "just the facts, ma'am" type of style. That is not to say that there aren't some lovely descriptions of the locale, because there are. It would be a shame if there weren't, considering the exotic setting, and an example of nice descriptive prose reads:
A small house of weathered boards stood just above the head high elephant grass. Countless ancient trees pressed in tight. Branches scraped the rusted tin roof on a faint breeze. All was calm except for the night birds with their sharp shrieks from beyond.
Now, you have to agree with me, the above descriptions are lovely and create a clear vision of the locale. My only regret is too often, the author goes back into the "just the facts, ma'am" mode and thereby created a "rushed" feel instead of taking the time to flesh out the book and to have the reader enjoy the journey.
That said, The Ghost Way is still a very interesting book. I don't doubt for a second that most of these strange and abnormal events really happened. To what degree was reality and to what degree was only superstition is subjective. But there was definitely something going on in that house above the elephant grass.
Of further interest is how Kung reveals the culture of the Thai Providence to the north, which was never colonized like its southern neighbors in Malaysia. This is a standout in the book; the everyday life of the indigenous people is explored as only a native can tell it, as in this description:
Here the ancients thrive and are honored daily. From the endless rice paddies to the vast rows of rubber trees, this land's mysticism can be felt everywhere in the pure mountain air and baked red clay. Ancestors and their spirits are that much of a vital part of everyone's life.
The amount of stress that the Ramanakajja family endured is described successfully by the author, and one must remember that this part of Thailand in the 1970s was not comparable to living in the USA or the UK today, where if we don't like our living conditions, we can just pack up and move somewhere else. Once the reader understands that the Ramanakajja family did not have these options at the time that these events occurred, it makes more sense that they felt trapped to remain in the house that was bringing them so much unhappiness and fear.
However, the book does have a happy ending because eventually the family was able to move, and now they live in Hawaii, a location which would be the envy of anyone.
One must also remember that stories grow over time, and that Kung's parents had been silent about the events for years, so possibly the tales about the entities that haunted the house above the elephant grass grew in proportion to the timeframe that passed.
Still, I am convinced that The Ghost Way is a true story to the best of the parents' memories, and it is a chilling tale.
For anyone interested in real-life paranormal investigations, I think this is the book for you. There is enough truth here and certainly enough mystery to be compelling, and frankly, this book makes me want to travel to Thailand to see for myself what lurks in the land of the elephant grass.
You can buy The Ghost Way HERE
About the Author
Eot Pongchu and Jak Ramanakajja were both born in Phatthalung Province in 1947. They have been farming their entire lives in the Muang District and now have six children along with many grandchildren. The family remains devout Thai Buddhists devoted to King Rama IX.
About the Reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, Story Mania, Lost Souls, All Destiny, and many others. Her novel Around a Dark Corner was released in the USA on Graveyard Press in 2009.
You can learn about Jeani Rector HERE.