Ghost Stories

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

The Night Strangers starts with the description of a creepy little door sealed shut with 39 carriage bolts located in a creepy gingerbread-trimmed house in Bethel, N.H. that has been vacant for years.  Chip Linton and his family – wife Emily and 10 year-old fraternal twin daughters Hallie and Garnet have left West Chester, suburb of Philadelphia behind, so that he might recover from the PTSD that has dogged him since he piloted a commercial plane into Lake Champlain, killing 39 of the 48 people onboard.   Put together Victorian style house, an emotionally depleted nice guy, a town full of female herbalists all named after spices/herbs and season it with some very unhappy dead people and it’s just a matter of time before all heck breaks loose. 

We see more than just Chip’s point of view but looking at life through his eyes make for the creepiest moments.  I recommend it.


Bag of Bones by Stephen King
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

                                                                  Kathleen Carter, Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, retired

City of Masks by Daniel Hecht

City of Masks is the first in a series of ghost detective stories featuring paranormal detective Cree Black.  Cree, after experiencing a terrible tragedy, discovers she has the ability to commune with the spirits of the dead.  She uses her ability to try to dispel these spirits and put them to rest. 

City of Masks takes place in New Orleans, LA.  Cree is hired by Lila Beauforte Warren to investigate a strange manifestation in her family’s 150 year old French Quarter mansion.  Cree’s search for ghosts leads her to uncover an array of family secrets that the Beauforte’s matriarch, Lila’s mother, would rather keep hidden.

This book combines spooky ghost manifestations with mystery and would be liked by reads of both genres. 

About the Author
Born in New York, Daniel Hecht is an ex-guitarist turned writer.  His first book was Skull Session, published in 1998.  Hecht holds a MFA from the University of Iowa and currently lives in Vermont.  There are currently 3 books in the Cree Black series.


Aunt Dimity Mysteries by Nancy Atherton
Fever Devlin Mysteries by Philip DePoy
Ghost Hunter Mysteries by Victoria Laurie
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries by Alice Kimberly
Bailey Ruth Mysteries by Carolyn G. Hart
Ghost Dusters Mysteries by Wendy Roberts
Pamela Wells, Lindenhurst Public Library
The Woman in Black by Susan Hillman

A young solicitor, Arthur Kipps, is assigned to settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow, a widow who lived alone in her country manse that the local people believe to be haunted by a woman dressed in black.  He is happy for the experience and he doesn't believe the stories he hears until he starts to experience the creaks on the stairs and doors banging; an empty rocking chair rocking.  A livery driver lends Arthur his dog for company and Arthur and the reader are relieved to a break from the chilling solitude.  The Woman in Black is a haunting old-fashioned ghost story set in 19th century England that begins slowly and builds like Ravel's Bolero to a terrifyiing denouement.  Amazon claims that if Jane Austen had written a ghost story, this would have been the tale.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Peggy McCarthy, Smithtown and West Islip Libraries
The Secret of Crickley Hall by Herbert James

Crickley Hall is a big, grey, stone house isolated from the quiet seaside town of Hollow Bay, England, by a river and small wooden bridge. The owner won’t live in it or sell it, and it is never occupied for very long. Is it haunted or simply unconventional and impractical?
The Secret of Crickley Hall is a near-gothic tale of dreary, grey, rainy weather, quiet townies afraid of their own shadows, a haunted house, and a horrifying 70-year-old secret. Suspenseful and taut, it grips the reader in fear from the first page, then slowly picks up the pace until you can’t put it down (around page 500 of 600.)
The Caleighs, a traditional London family of two parents, 2.5 kids (one is missing) and a dog, come to Crickley Hall for a few months after a family tragedy, (i.e., the missing son). But small, strange lights moving in circles, dark figures, unexplained puddles on the stairs, and physical pain aren’t bringing them any peace. Cupboard doors rattle, locked cellar doors open while they sleep, and rooms get cold, even with a fire going.
The mood is menacing and foreboding, while the author’s tone is gruesome and gripping, not to be taken lightly. Ghosts exist, and they exist for a reason. They are trapped in the in-between and cannot be freed until there is a resolution or final chapter to their lives.

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons
Small Hand (the) by Susan Hill
Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White

Lori Ludlow, Babylon Public Library
The Dead Path by Stephen Irwin
      A “Halloween Child,” Nicholas Cage has second sight—the ability to see through enchantments.  Haunted by visions of his wife’s “accidental” death in London, he flees to his childhood home in Brisbane, Australia, where he encounters the ghosts of a childhood friend and a more recent victim of whatever is sacrificing children in a nearby wood.  All the ghosts are doomed to endlessly repeat their death throes, unable to rest in peace.  Nicholas decides to investigate.  This is his story, as he hunts down and confronts the witch who has stalked him and discovers the nature of his own complicity in the fates of those close to him.

     The author’s style, a bit “over the top,” and pacing, long, moody buildup followed by pulse pounding chase, are typical of the horror genre.   Irwin shines in his descriptions of the otherworldly atmosphere in the woods where the children were taken, featuring particularly striking imagery and interesting multicultural symbolism.

     This book would appeal to fans of storyteller horror, anyone interested in the nature of guilt, and anyone curious about the pagan versus the Christian world view.

     As for read-alikes, those attracted by the children-in-peril theme might enjoy Stephen King’s It, Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night, or James Herbert’s The Secret of Crickley Hall.  Those with a yen for religious mayhem, pagan or Christian, might go for Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery or King’s Salem’s Lot.  Those interested in the workings of guilt, individual or collective, might like Tana French’s In the Woods or Peter Benchley’s Jaws.
      Jackie Malone, North Bellmore Public Library

Collected Ghost Stories by M. R. James

M. R. (Montague Rhodes) James is generally acclaimed to be the writer of the best "modern" ghost stories.  Modern in this case refers to the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods more than a half century ago.  James (1862-1936) was a Cambridge University don, with wide antiquarian interests:  medieval manuscripts, biblical studies and Church history, Latin, rare books, and folklore.  These interests appear in all the stories collected in this volume, so these are very literary ghost stories.  "Tractate Middoth" and "Mr. Humphries and his inheritance" are standard James, in which a curious young man encounters some mystical object that summons malevolent spirits.  The stories are chilling and astmospheric.  Read the excellent introduction by Darryl Jones to learn more about this genre.  Read-alikes would include the stories of Charles Dickens, J.S. Le Fanu and Bram Stoker.  "Great Ghost Stories", edited by John Grafton (New York: Dover Publications, 1992), includes these and other classic ghost stories.

Suzanne McGuire, Commack Public Library
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson is a private investigator who not only runs her own business but also helps her uncle, an Albuquerque police detective, solve his cases. Charley’s specialty is the odd and unsolvable because not only is Charley a P.I., she’s also the Grim Reaper.

Charley’s been able to see dead people since she was born. It’s her job to help them cross over to the other side. It comes in handy when her uncle needs help, but not so great when the dead guys appear in her shower.

Filled with humor, crazy antics, mystery and romance, First Grave on the Right, is an entertaining read. It’s fast paced and definitely chick-lit with an edge. Great for women, those who like light mysteries and anyone who likes to laugh.

Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris
Psychic Eye series by Victoria Laurie

Azuree Agnello, West Babylon Public Library
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

With a name like Odd Thomas you can't expect smooth or sexy.  What you get is an odd yet extraordinary young man.  He is only twenty yeasrs old yet he is one of Pico Mundos most gifted fry cook/mediums.  The dead seek his help.  After seeing strange dark forces near a man he has never seen at the diner, Odd becomes convinced thuis man is a deranged killer.  The trick is to catch him before he can commit the mass murder Odd is sure will happen on August 15.
Lissetty Thomas, Brentwood Public Library

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville
Gerry Fegan is a former “hard man” with the IRA in Northern Ireland. He was one of the most feared killers for the IRA, and has just been released from prison. A tenuous peace has now come to Belfast, but Fegan is haunted by the ghosts of the 12 people he has murdered at the IRA’s behest. The ghosts, all innocent victims, including a mother and child, a RUC constable, and a schoolboy, will not let him rest until he takes revenge on those who ordered him to kill. No amount of drinking or attempts to run away will appease his tormenters, save his sanity, or fix his guilty conscience. His ghosts only want their revenge, regardless of the consequences. However, the fallout from Fegan’s revenge killings could threaten to shatter the fragile truce keeping the peace in Belfast.

The Ghosts of Belfast is a gripping, noir tale that illuminates the many tragedies and innocent victims of the recent “troubles” in Northern Ireland. The reader is never sure if Fegan can redeem himself or if his ghosts will get the best of him. Gerry Fegan is a fascinating character, because you are never sure if you should be sympathetic towards him, or repulsed by him. The Ghosts of Belfast is a harsh, violent book that grips you from page one.
The Ghosts of Belfast is the first book in the Jack Lennon Investigations series.
Read-alike authors would include Ken Bruen, John Connolly, Declan Hughes and Adrian McKinty among the new crop of Irish noir writers. Other recommended read-alikes could include titles such as The Dark Room by Andrea Kane, The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker, and Avenger by Frederick Forsythe, all books which include a healthy dose of revenge as central to their plots.
Stuart Neville has been a musician, a composer, a teacher, a salesman, a film extra, a baker and a hand-double for a well known Irish comedian. He now works in multimedia design. The Ghosts of Belfast won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.”
Bruce Silverstein, Patchogue-Medford Library
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
     This is not a ghost story that will make a reader fearful of the dark. It is more a fantastical read than a frightening one. The novel is a depiction of several different relationships—familial, neighborly, and other-worldly—each of them including love, a bit of mystery, and the search for individual identity and triumph. The story opens with the death of Elspeth Noblin. She leaves her entire English estate to the twin daughters of her estranged twin sister who lives in Chicago. Right from the start, the novel provides a thread of mystery about the reason for the older twins’ estrangement. Elspeth’s papers and diaries may hold the answer, but her young lover Robert is hesitant to read them. Identical twin daughters Julia and Valentina do move to England, where they encounter a plethora of interesting characters and situations—not the least of which is the spirit of their Aunt Elspeth. Readers follow the relationship of the two sisters as one tries to maintain strong ties, and the other struggles to distance herself. There’s also the development of love relationships, a stray kitten, and a local cemetery that all play an integral part in the twins’ lives. And it all culminates in a suspenseful, paranormal plan that is carried out by Valentina, Elspeth, and Robert at the end of the novel. 

     Niffenegger takes her time, and many pages, to create a mood in this novel. The story unfolds slowly, so this is not a read for someone who prefers a page-turner. Characters are well-developed and the wordiness of this novel allows the reader to be submerged in a creepy and romantic tale. An ominous and ghostly atmosphere of family secrets and a grey and foggy London are successfully created throughout the story. Be forewarned—an ability to suspend belief is a necessary attribute for the reader if they are to enjoy the conclusion of this fanciful work. What may be an unbelievable, and possibly disappointing, finale may be forgiven providing the reader can enjoy the indulgence of the journey, if not the destination. 

Much like Her Fearful Symmetry, family secrets, ghostly figures, and character development play an important part in the following readalikes: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson.

                                                                             Deborah Formosa, Northport-East Northport Public Library 

The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan

       The story opens with a first person narrative by Marco, a ghost - the quiet one, leading us to understand that one year earlier on Halloween night in Avon, Connecticut, five high school students crashed into a tree. Toe, the driver; Marco, the narrator; and Danielle, Tim’s girlfriend; were killed.  Kyle, a bad boy now severely brain damaged lives the life of a forever child; and Tim, who lives with survivor guilt and a desire to join his dead friends. We are introduced to Officer Brooks who was the first on the accident - he is fifty three years old, dealing with being in debt, newly divorced and has been demoted due to careless handlings of police procedures. We also meet Nancy, Kyle’s’ mother, who deals with a love/hate relationship caring for a perpetual child-boy and attempting to save her disintegrating marriage.
Marco narrates the story with at time awkward parenthetical interjections from Danielle and Toe. We are privy to the dead teenagers as they move about appearing to various characters who think of them. As they comment about what they observe we learn hints of their limited interactions with the living and their purpose of returning.
  We watch as the psychological impact of all involved comes to a climax on Halloween night. Officer Brooks continues his downward spiral as he follows Tim. Tim watches over Kyle trying to determine if he should bring him along on his decision to reenact the accident. We sense the friendship between Toe’s two friends, Travis and Greg, as they prepare their own memorial to Toe against Officer Brooks. We sense their anger at Brooks without completely understanding their reasoning to their vandalism of his property. We are given more hints as the book continues that Officer Brooks had a major part in what transpired on the night of the accident. As the night progresses each life is inexorably drawn towards the final outcome. We drive alternately with Tim and with Officer Brooks. From Officer Brooks perspective we learn his actions caused the last accident and his actions again will kill himself and Tim. Tim keeps Kyle safe. Nancy is rebuilding her marriage and wonders if she may eventually place Kyle in an assisted home. We sense the ghosts will continue some vigilance over the living until they are vague memories.

I would recommend this novel. This book is not a frightening ghost story since we are privy to many of the thoughts and feelings of the characters. It is a satisfying book although the ending is somewhat predictable. The novel does not preach anti-suicide but it does give the reader an alternative viewpoint from the dead’s perspective which indicates it is not all that exciting.


Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury –        (Inspiration for this novel)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Sins of Two Fathers by Denis Hamill
Back by Norah McClintock
Final Destination – DVD –
(Suggestion by the characters in this novel)
Anne Jones, East Hampton Public Library