Berry’s intriguing debut memoir suggests that belief in the paranormal, including ghosts and psychic experiences, can be reconciled with orthodox Christianity.
Goldfield Hotel, Nevada: a haunted site if ever there was one. Berry can’t quite believe she has agreed to come here, through her public relations role, to serve as an impartial observer for a TV station's paranormal investigation. “A good Christian woman…wouldn’t have put herself here to dabble in the occult,” she chides herself. Yet Berry had long been receptive to supernatural experiences—whether church-sanctioned or not. Her strong Christian faith sustained her through 18 years suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome, the result of a virus contracted on an African safari. There had been many signs of her paranormal sensitivity: For instance, she felt the presence of dead relatives and conveyed her grandfather’s message that it was time for her grandmother to join him, and she remembered a “Circus Master” figure haunting their duplex when she was a child. Berry took advantage of working at Truckee Meadows Community College to attend a ghost-hunting conference and train with a psychic, though she worried all along that such experiences were at odds with faith in God. However, friends encouraged her to keep an open mind; perhaps her sensitivity would bring her closer to God. As Berry returns to the Goldfield, where her framing story began, she’s unsure whether her health and faith are strong enough to withstand a full-scale haunting. Over a long night filled with sensing dead residents’ emotions, smelling ghostly odors, capturing footsteps and voices via EVP (electronic voice phenomena) recording, and feeling a hand stroking her hair, Berry’s “fear of ghosts transforms to awe.” Hearing the voice of God, having a telepathic friend affirm her sightings at the hotel, and experiencing a miraculous healing from her CFS all confirm for her that her path is not dangerous and that it has divine approval. Present-tense narration and convincing dialogue make for a gripping account, and Berry successfully balances abstract thought with physical realities; even a scene as simple as peeling potatoes in her home allows for extended contemplation of spiritual happenings. Intriguing as it is, the memoir is so full of subjective experience that it is unlikely to convince doubters.
A born-again believer makes a diverting adventure story out of embracing her sensitivity to benevolent spirits.