The Ghost Writer by Joan Harwood features a librarian in a ghost story…my favourite subjects!
Gerard Freeman is a librarian living in Australia who is smitten with his mysterious pen pal, Alice. He is also obsessed with a story that he found hidden in his mother’s drawer that was written by his great-grandmother Viola; a sinister ghost story!
His journey takes him to England where he discovers a connection between his great-grandmother’s sinister stories and his beautiful Alice.
This book has some good creepy moments and is a great little ghost story. The scares in this book are subtle and are psychological, rather than visceral. I wasn’t too crazy about the ending but I enjoyed the ride so I do recommend this novel overall if you enjoy a creepy, gothic ghost story.
Andrew Bayne Memorial Library in Bellevue Pittsburgh is haunted. It was built in 1875 as a three-story house and was given to the borough for use as a park and library by the owner (at the time), Amanda Bayne Balph. It was stated in her will that no trees should be taken down on the property but in 1998, it was necessary to remove one tree because of Dutch Elm disease. Unfortunately, this tree was 300 years old and was named the “Lone Sentinel” (it was recognized in 1983 as the largest American elm in the state). All of this tree business has a purpose…some believe that the removal of this tree increased the paranormal activity in the library (Amanda Bayne is apparently not happy with the removal of the tree).
Some accounts state that the ceiling fans and lights turn on and off on their own, computer screens show random numbers, there are moving shadows, and a woman in Victorian clothing has been seen. The library has appeared in Jeff Belanger’s book, “The World’s Most Haunted Places” (of which I own a copy surprise, surprise!).
This time, a classic ghost story. My memories of this particular book are of my mother reading me the scary parts…when I was little! She did the same with The Shining (Stephen King)…no wonder I’m into the macabre! Thanks Mom!
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson was published in 1959 and features the well known scenario of 4 strangers that stay at a haunted house with the intent of proving or disproving that the house is actually haunted. There is some uncertainty as to whether or not the heroine, Eleanor, is actually experiencing these spooky happenings or is it all in her head?
I would say that for todays standards, it’s a very quiet but well-written chilling ghost story. If that’s what you’re into :)
It was made into a very well done movie starring Julie Harris as Eleanor in 1963 called The Haunting. The trailer is a little melodramatic but it serves its purpose :)
It was followed by a substandard adaptation in 1999 by the same name starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor (who I usually like) as “Nell”. Truly not worth the watch!
If you enjoy supernatural stories, then I do recommend you read some of the classics in the genre, particularly The Haunting of Hill House.
In honour of Halloween, I thought I would stray from library stuff and offer up my personal supernatural experiences. The above photo is just for dramatic effect and is one of my favourite ghost photos…The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall taken in 1936. So, warm yourself at the fire below…or maybe the laptop on your lap will be more effective!
I’ve been a believer in the supernatural for as long as I can remember. I used to long for a ghostly experience to prove myself right. I was in my 20’s when a friend and I moved into an apartment that was situated above a store on Queen Street West in Toronto. Right in the area of the photo seen below.
Queen Street West
Funny things started happening after we lived there for a short time…just little things. Some of my roommate’s belongings occasionally went missing (never to be found again) but never mine (weird!). The one event that disturbed us the most involved the deadbolt on our front door, which was consistently found unlocked almost every morning. We had no explanation for this, particularly since I was a very light sleeper and always heard my roommate come home in the middle of the night and unlock that very door.
One day, we were hanging out in her room and we heard this enormous crash from the kitchen which sounded like someone taking the oven door and slamming it shut. When we ran to the kitchen, we could still hear the rungs inside the oven ringing. Even though we were both believers, we found ourselves making excuses for every unexplainable thing that happened (we must have left the oven door open and the wind came in the window and blew it shut – ha ha!).
One other experience I had occurred while visiting a couple’s apartment in Cabbagetown. I used to visit them every weekend and they had told me numerous times that the apartment was haunted. I went to the bathroom and shortly after I heard footsteps (I assumed one of my hosts was going into the bedroom next to the bathroom). When finished, I went to open the door but the doorknob wouldn’t turn. I thought that perhaps I had inadvertently locked the door and tried unlocking it but still the doorknob wouldn’t turn. I stood there for a few minutes trying to open the door, then lost my temper (enter appropriate expletive here) and immediately just opened the door! Of course I assumed one of my friends and been playing a trick on me but even when I quizzed one of them years later, his response was “that’s what they do. When you get angry, it’s not fun anymore”. And he finished by stating that it was most definitely the ghost that occasionally showed up in their apartment. Eep!
This was always difficult for me to accept as that experience was so physical (footsteps and something held the doorknob!) but I couldn’t find any other explanation. I have had more experiences than what I have described here but it would be far too tedious for you to read and for me to type (and much more fun to describe in person) :)
So, if anyone wants to share their own ghostly experiences, I would be thrilled to post it here! Listening to ghost stories is one of my favourite pastimes!
Marsh’s Library in Dublin, Ireland originated in 1701 and was Ireland’s first public library. Built by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh and now haunted by him!
The story goes that Archbishop’s niece came to stay with him and promptly fell in love with a clergyman and eloped. The Archbishop was apparently heartbroken and a guilt-stricken niece put a letter of apology in one of his books in the library (why, oh why!). So, his ghost shows up to search the books for the missing note.
Below is a video about the library…worth a watch if you like Irish accents. Oh, and Irish history, of course! :)
If I ever have the opportunity to go back to Ireland, I will most certainly have a look at this beautiful…and haunted…library!
My next book review is on a book that has scared me like no other! Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
The plot is relatively simple…Jessie and her husband Gerald have started a little sex game in their cabin (in which no one knows they have gone to…of course!) when Gerald dies quite suddenly. Unfortunately, Jessie is handcuffed to the headboard on the bed. Some aspects of the story are quite gruesome (which should come as no surprise given the author), but King does an amazing job of getting inside a woman’s head.
Now, the reason this was the scariest book I’ve read is that it contains a small section (just a few pages) that had the most terrifying scene I have ever read! I actually had to put the book down and walk away as I couldn’t handle the fear and tension any longer! Never has a book had that effect on me…most books don’t really scare me at all! My library has the subject heading of “terror” for this one…appropriate much!?
This book is definitely not for all tastes and I’m sure not everyone will be as affected as I was but I will never be able to listen to The Joker by Steve Miller the same way again!
P.S. My apologies for the overuse of exclamation marks. However they were needed for this particular book!
My second installment in my Haunted Library series takes place in Deep River Public Library in…you guessed it…Deep River, Connecticut. The library was originally built in 1881 by a banker and has had hauntings reported since at least 1959. There have been reports of children laughing and a woman peering through an upstairs window.
If you click on the picture to the left, it will take you to the website of the library but alas, no ghost cam!
Below is a 5 minute video of a paranormal investigation that took place at the library in 2010. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good haunting!