Susan Smitten,
Ghost Stories of New England
(Ghost House, 2003)

There are three excellent chapters in Ghost Stories of New England: "Haunted Houses," "Wandering Women" and "Haunted Hospitality," where the author does a bit of ghost-hunting herself and interviews first-hand sources.

This is where Susan Smitten's writing becomes engaging. The stories she has gleaned from eyewitnesses are interesting and well-varied. However, the majority of the book is of the "legend has it" and "it's rumored to be" variety, of which I am not usually a fan.

There is a dose of good old-fashioned New England folklore here, as well as a tour of several New England lighthouses that are reputed to be haunted, but overall I did not find the author's prose engrossing. Also present is a fair amount of speculation, although it's sometimes hard to tell whether this is on the part of the author or the storyteller. Either way, there should have been a little less of it.

This book has more of a school project feel than that of a polished professional product. In addition, there is one serious faux pas: Worchester, Massachusetts?? This is worth picking up at the local library for a quick read, but overall is not one of my favorites.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

21 August 2010

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