In this winsome compendium of local lore, ghosts become a marvelous household amenity.
Cape Cod has some of America’s oldest and most picturesque habitations, making it a natural setting in which to collect oral histories of haunted houses, inns and town halls. Spectral manifestations abound: ubiquitous footsteps through empty rooms; apparitions (both distinctive entities and amorphous forms of â€œgathered haze”); strange cries and disembodied wisecracks; lingering floral fragrances; mysteriously locked or unlocked doors; seeping red ooze; sourceless pipe-organ music; lights and appliances flickering on and off; balky furnaces and carpet cleaners; sullen Ouija boards; invisible kisses and slaps; hurled goblets; tossed tennis balls; rummaged-through belongings; and brooding presences that fill man and beast with nameless dread. The ghostly culprits generally remain anonymous, but a few are traced back to colorful or tragic figures from the Cape’s history. They’re occasionally responsible for breaking up couples or sending people shrieking from their houses, but property owners–an open-minded lot who tend to â€œbelieve in energy and spirits and stuff”–are by and large on good terms with their unseen tenants, who provide great conversation pieces as well as opportunities to ruminate, sometimes at rather tiresome length, on the cosmic spiritual connectedness of it all. The editors preface the stories with rhapsodic accounts of the storied past, intriguing architecture, lovely decor and cozy atmosphere of the structure in question. Observations like, â€œ[e]ach of the inn’s twenty-five rooms has old-fashioned Cape Cod charm” establish a soothing realtor’s-prospectus tone that takes the edge off the ensuing spookiness; proprietors of haunted public accommodations â€œare quick to assure their guests that all of their ghost encounters are more subtle than frightening.”
Of mainly regional interest, these engaging tales convey the message that Cape Cod real estate is as sought after by the dead as by the living.