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Established in the Year of the Plague, Better Than Fiction is one of Salem's newest walking tour companies. Often when we are faced with difficult times, we make life-changing decisions. And so, out of restrictions, quarantine, lock-downs, and COVID measures, comes opportunity. So, here we are, seizing opportunity.
We believe in a different kind of tour, one based on stories. This isn't history class and history is more than names and dates. It's people, and their loss and grief, it's their success and smiles and all things in-between. We, as human beings have always been story tellers, from Gilgamesh and Beowulf, to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Our epics have been carved into stone, lost to the stars, whispered around camp fires, and sculpted into animation and song. We hold them in our hearts. We are a people of wild adventure, we are the dreamers, we are the custodians of history. And real history, about real people, is often better than fiction.
Jeffrey Lilley - Expert Storyteller
Jeffrey is our founding storyteller. One of the weird ones, he has been a storyteller and tour guide for what feels like centuries. Having worked and given tours in some of the oldest and most haunted cities in the world, his wanderings finally brought him to Salem. After living and studying in quaint European cities, he found his way back to New England, where he had grown up in the forests of the Petapawg and amongst the ruins of King Phillip's war. Drawn by the magic of Salem and a love of history, his favourite tour to give is the Witch Trials Tour, because it shows that even in a place as strange as Salem, it is mankind which is the true horror. Storytelling lets us see into the past and honour the footsteps of those that have brought us into today.
Caroline Gayle - Ginger Pumpkin
~Only available in October~
Caroline was raised in the woods of Rhode Island, and somehow grew up to be a magician. With an expertise in spiritualism and seance magic she is a true performer and storyteller who revels in the strange and unknown. Suffice to say, the mysteries of New England have never ceased to fascinate her and the history of Salem is a particular soft spot on her blustery heart.
She is thrilled to be joining Better Than Fiction the Halloween season, this will be the companies second and her first foray in the wild adventure that is Salem in October. with her odd combination of showmanship and love of dark history she is a welcome and exciting addition to our tours.
Hocus Pocus 2
Unfortunately, the long awaited sequel for the Halloween cult classic Hocus Pocus was not filmed in Salem. However, the set designers did choose several local business to feature in the film, there are several scenes with some shots that, if you have a keen eye, you may notice some of them. This set which was made for the movie didn't end up in the final cut, but we did see some of our advertising on the side of the trolly!
Our tours start in Houdini Way, a small alleyway between 15 and 19 Front street. When we first opened in 2021 this alleyway was an unnamed right of way, but Jeffrey drew up a proposal and brought it to the city council to have it renamed. And on March 25th 2021 the council approved the measure.
In 1906 Harry Houdini held an exhibition performance in what was the Salem Police Station. He was handcuffed and locked in the cells in the back room. He was also, probably, naked. If you want to hear the whole story, take the Dark History Night Tour!
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