Back in March of this year, I was scanning some news sites when I came across an interesting article titled This N.S. photographer is saving the province’s abandoned cemeteries. It spoke about an upcoming new book that I knew I just had to read! I find books on Canadian cemeteries are somewhat rare, so I made my way to Steve’s Etsy shop and bought myself a signed copy. I was thrilled when it came in the mail a week or so ago. So, for this month’s book review I wanted to talk about The Dead Die Twice: Abandoned Cemeteries of Nova Scotia by Steve Skafte.
The Dead Die Twice is a beautiful little book. It’s filled with gorgeous full-color photography and beautiful prose. The author, Steve Skafte, is a fellow Canadian taphophile, who has been exploring, photographing, and cleaning up old abandoned cemeteries in Nova Scotia. The book is broken up into 3 seasons; Autumn, Winter, and Summer. Each section showcases several abandoned cemeteries and burial grounds, each with an assortment of stunning and moody photography, paired with eloquent musings.
Here is a snippet of the synopsis from Goodreads: “Steve Skafte has lived his entire life in Annapolis County—or what he calls “The Dead Centre”—a place with more forgotten history than anywhere else in the country. In search of those forgotten stories, Skafte stumbled over a couple of overgrown cemeteries and began his quest for what was hiding in the hundreds of cemeteries and burial grounds that lie abandoned in the woods all over Nova Scotia. En route, he discovered twisting trails of indifference, forgetfulness, and desecration. Featuring 80 haunting color images and more than 20 deeply poetic tales of discovery, The Dead Die Twice: Abandoned Cemeteries of Nova Scotia chronicles Skafte’s year of exploring abandoned cemeteries, pushing through walls of scratching brush, cutting a path to the past, and unearthing buried stones and half-forgotten stories.”
Reading this book is a rich experience, starting from the soft satin finish of the cover, the saturated moody photographs, to the beautiful and sometimes whimsical writing. Steve is a very talented photographer, and it’s easy to get lost in the photographs. The accompanying stories also paint a picture, revealing heartbreak and sometimes intrigue.
While I read The Dead Die Twice, I found myself trying to slow down and take my time with each location. I didn’t want to rush it, even though I easily could have read the whole thing in one sitting. I wanted to explore each place as I would if I were there in person. The accompanying text added to that. I love that the coordinates to each cemetery have also been included in the book, with helpful tips on how to find them. If you’re like me, you’ll want to pin these spots on a map for future cemetery travels, or maybe just use Google Maps to take a closer look at the area.
I think any Canadian taphophile would be excited about this book. As I’ve mentioned before, Canadian cemetery books are a little harder to find. I believe this is also the first book I have read specifically about abandoned cemeteries, which some might find particularly interesting. This gorgeous book would be an excellent addition to any art and photography library as well.
For those interested in purchasing a copy, you can find it pretty much anywhere books are sold. But, if you would like the bonus of a signed copy, I would order it directly from the source, the author’s Etsy shop.
Thanks for reading!
I am always on the hunt for cemetery-related book recommendations. Please feel free to share yours in the comments. If you are an author and have a cemetery-related book you would like me to review, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
- This N.S. photographer is saving the province’s abandoned cemeteries | CTV News Atlantic
- The Dead Die Twice: Abandoned Cemeteries of Nova Scotia | Goodreads