Thursday, September 16, 2010

Holy Ghosts Review

Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night
In this extraordinary true story, the haunting of a Long Island household forces a respected writer and editor to reevaluate the mysteries of life and death as he struggles with the frightening truths of his childhood home and his town's past.

Growing up in Rockville Centre, Long Island, Gary Jansen never believed in ghosts. His mother - a devoutly Catholic woman with a keen sense for the uncanny - claimed that their family house was haunted. But Jansen never found anything inexplicable in how their doorbell would sometimes ring of its own accord; or in the mysterious sounds of footsteps or breaking glass that occasionally would fill their home; or even in his mother's sometimes unnervingly accurate visions of future events and tragedies. Though he once experienced a supernatural encounter in a Prague church as a young man, Jansen grew up into a rationalist, as well as a noted writer and editor.

In 2001, Jansen moved back into the very same house where he had once grown up, to raise a family with his wife. One day in 2007 he encountered a weird physical sensation in his toddler son's bedroom - "like an electric hand rubbing the length of my back. I stopped and couldn't move, not because I was stuck but for the simple reason that the feeling was so strange. What the hell is that? Then the pressure seemed to break apart and for a brief moment I felt like I had a million little bugs crawling all over my back and neck."

This became the first step in uncovering a frightening, full-blown haunting in his home-a phenomenon which lasted a full year and eventually included unveiling the identities of the spirits who occupied his house; reliving a tragic murder in his hometown; encountering mind-boggling coincidences between local history and episodes in his household; and finally, with the help of Mary Ann Winkowski, the real-life inspiration for TV's The Ghost Whisperer, ridding his house of these uninvited visitors. The events of that year, in which Jansen's family was terrified by ghosts in their own home, would forever change how he viewed the mysteries of life and death.

Holy Ghosts is not only a gripping true-life ghost story but a wry and touching memoir, as well as a meditation on the relationship between religion and the paranormal, which are often considered at odds with each other, but which the author shows are intimately linked. 

My Take: I finished this book an hour ago. I refused to leave my bedroom.  When my husband complained he couldn't sleep, I moved to the master bath. I am not easily manipulated by ghost stories but a few still get me.  Every so often I'm scared to go to the bathroom at night in case the hair on the back of my neck stands up.  According to "Sixth Sense," that means the ghosts are close.

That aside, Gary Jansen is a fun and gifted story teller.  He's also articulate, well read, and persuasive.  This is his story of living in a house that seems to be inhabited by ghosts.  Growing up traditional Catholic, he spends a lot of time reconciling the idea of ghosts and his Catholic upbringing.  My own understanding of the Catholic beliefs being slim, I completely enjoyed his intro to Catholicism as well as his supporting research from relevant sources. He made me laugh, he made me hide under my blanket.  He held my interest on every page. I read it in ARC form so there is some cleaning up to do, including some irrelevant information, but as professional writer, my guess is this book will be even more amazing.

4 stars. 


misskallie2000 said...

WOW, I love these haunting stories and will have to add another book to my wish list.
Thanks for review.

Violet said...

Sounds like a nice, spooky read. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Lisa Potts said...

Great review. I'll definitely be putting this one on my "must-read" list.

CountessLaurie said...

I so want to read this, but I know me and I know I won't sleep at night if I do... at least the ghosts we have are nice and don't terrorize us. I can't even imagine it.... I would move in a millisecond...