Thomas D'Agostino & Arlene Nicholson,
Legends, Lore & Secrets of New England
(History Press, 2013)

Lucy Keyes, age 4, disappeared without a trace.

The bones of the Rev. William Blackstone have gone missing.

Phineas Gardner Wright was apparently obsessed with his own memorial.

And then there's the Darn Man.

These are just a few of people you'll meet in Legends, Lore & Secrets of New England, a slim volume of tales by the research and writing team of Thomas D'Agostino and Arlene Nicholson. This book doesn't purport to be a collection of ghost stories, although there are ghosts within, and it doesn't claim to be a compendium of "weird" geography, although there are certainly odd landmarks and other locations to see. You'll also find an accused witch, a spectral night watchman and a burned mother here, as well as places where the devil left his footprint and a river that claims lives to repay an old debt.

Whether they're relating a spooky ghost story or a bit of geographic trivia, D'Agostino and Nicholson have an engaging narrative style that is always interesting to read. One can only assume from their tone that they love New England, its quirks and characters, and they make me want to get to know them, too. With the time and budget, I would love to visit many of the places they describe.

I love stories like this, and New England is the perfect place to find them. Unlike many books of this nature, however, D'Agostino and Nicholson don't just gather us around the campfire and relate anecdotal tales with vague notions of "it's been said" and "some people believe" that give the stories little credence. This team has obviously done a lot of legwork to explore the facts behind each chapter, and if they don't always leave you with a definitive answer, it's not for lack of trying.

This book is only about 150 pages long and, for all that every page is packed with detail, I suspect they could have filled quite a few books with more of the same. And you know what? I'd read 'em.

book review by
Tom Knapp

15 February 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new