It’s not like you need an excuse to read ghost stories in October. At least that’s what I hoped other passengers on the bus would think. Yesterday on my way into and out of New York City I read the next in the series of Ed and Lorraine Warren books, this one titled Graveyard, and written by Robert David Chase. Now, you need to realize that I’d heard of the Warrens long before The Conjuring came out. Those of us curious about ghosts to the point of reading at least semi-serious books on them know the brand. What I don’t know is how to find out much about what “the Warrens” actually wrote. These books are being (have been) republished by Graymalkin Media, after having originally been published by mainstream publishers. This one was originally released by St. Martin’s Press. Those of us in publishing believe that stands for something.
Loosely tied together around graveyard stories, featuring for half the book Union Cemetery near the Warrens’ Monroe, Connecticut home, the book ranges far and wide concerning ghosts. Here we meet a man or two who turned into demons—I wonder how that works?—and a good demon punishing an evil person. Some of these stories seem straight out of the high school scare-your-date playbook, while others are actually pretty scary. A mix of accounts by either Ed or Lorraine, and stories embellished, it seems, by Chase, this book is like a trick-or-treater’s Halloween bag—you never know what you’re going to get. It’s a little too bad because I’ve read some sober, and serious treatments of ghosts over the past several autumns, and with the Warrens’ vast experience, it’s a unfortunate that the accounts had been so dolled up.
It’s a shame that scholars of religion can’t be more forthright about their interest in the spiritual world. I know many that I won’t call out here that are secretly—some openly—exploring these kinds of questions. That won’t get you tenure anywhere (something the Ghostbusters reboot got right). Even in the world of science there are forbidden topics. That’s because, as this little book points out, spirits creak open the doors to all kinds of uncertainties. I suspect that’s a similar reason that scholars of religion are treated with a certain mistrust by other guilds within the academy. We need to play it straight and prove that we aren’t given to flights of fancy that might suggest something as unsophisticated as belief. Still, as Graveyard shows, ghost stories are extremely common. In fact, no October would be complete without them. So I hope the other passengers think.