Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Ghosts of Cape May by Craig McManus

The Ghosts of Cape May is a nonfiction book describing the ghosts, spirits, and residual energy lingering in a number of Bed and Breakfasts in Cape May, New Jersey. Author Craig McManus claims to be both a psychic and medium (who channels ghosts or spirits, allowing them to "speak" using his vocal chords) as well as a paranormal investigator. As such, he has visited many of the "haunted" homes in Cape May to determine whether they were, in fact, haunted and, if so, by whom. The ghosts or spirits will often give him names.

And, then they sell him great land in Florida. Kidding, just kidding.

I'd call this a fun and educational book on the paranormal. Is it a lot of hooey? Well, you'd have to read and determine that for yourself. McManus considers this first book of his experiences with Cape May hauntings (a second has just been released) a primer in the paranormal. To that end, he has taken the time to expound upon the differences between ghosts (trapped in the ghost realm on earth) and spirits (who have gone on and will return to help guide ghosts to the next world, or sometimes to aid humans). There's even a glossary of paranormal terms in the back.

And, there are apparently plenty of noisy ghosts banging around in Cape May; the owners themselves are often eager to find answers to what is causing those mysterious footfalls or banging noises when nobody else is home.

McManus doesn't always have the answers. He records interviews with the management and staff of the places he visits, often capturing additional voices on tape (ghostly voices, that is; the reasoning behind ghostly voices on tape is explained). He takes photographs and sometimes captures "orbs" but is, himself, a bit skeptical that all orbs indicate paranormal activity as he knows that blobs of light can be indicative of reflection on a lens, as opposed to visual proof of energy coming from a non-human presence. He also verifies the names he's "given" by ghosts with historians. A ghost named Jonas worries about the boiler in a hotel that's being renovated. McManus can see him and describe his looks; he hears Jonas saying, "Don't hurt Schmitty". When a flashlight on the boiler shows that the boiler was made by a company with the name Schmidt and McManus is told the boiler is to be cut up and used as decoration in the new nightclub, things come together. Later, he recognizes the ghost when he sees a photo of Jonas.

There are some skeptics scattered throughout the pages. A wife hears noises and her husband shrugs and says they're nothing. McManus occasionally gets information from the ghosts and then can't verify it historically. But, it's surprising just how many little factoids he's able to confirm. He not only finds ghosts, he dispels myths. Some of the ghost stories he goes to investigate do turn out to be hoaxes and he clears those up. Sometimes McManus senses nothing, or at least very little. He's not afraid to say so.

Overall, a really fun read that made me want to book a ticket to Cape May for a stay in a nice little B & B, perhaps in the turret suite of a lovely Victorian home. The ghosts in Cape May are, for the most part, friendly. So, it's safe. Just don't call out the ghosts; that's apparently a big mistake. Go planning to give the ghosts their space. Or just read the book - a perfect Halloween read.



  1. I have a friend who used to go to Cape May every summer. Wonder if he ever encountered any ghosts! Speaking of haunted houses, I just finished Anne Rivers Siddons' creepy novel, The House Next Door. Very entertaining!

  2. Hi Les!

    I just finally added your gardening blog to my links, this week. Whew! I'm so slow, sometimes! I love your squirrel pics - what a hoot! Obviously, I've been collecting exclamation points. :)

    You should ask your friend if he had any encounters! Cape May sounds like a great place to go, with or without hauntings (I can do without them, myself)-- the architecture alone would probably be worth a trip to gawk at.

    I'll write down The House Next Door on my ever-growing wish list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. How fun.. I love to watch those Haunted House shows on the travel channel.. not because I believe them, but I get fun chills being spooked I guess. It's funny, cuz I don't like horror/slasher movies.. but I like a good ghost story (like The Others).
    This sounds like a book I'd like. I'll have to see if my library has it.. (see you can't just blame me for these book suggestions & hurting your pocketbook)!

  4. Fun!!! Ghosts (or the idea of) freak me out like nothing else, so I'd be fine reading the book if I never went to the places. LOL

  5. Angela,

    I don't usually like being creeped out because I'm prone to nightmares (and, in fact, I did have a doozy - haven't told my friend Jill, who sent the book!) but I really enjoyed this book, even if it did give me a few goosebumps and a nightmare!

    We're all to blame for making each other buy books. It's an illness. :)


    I've had a ghost encounter, myself - in England. My heart beat so fast I thought it was going to fly out of my chest. And, I'm still not sure I believe myself. LOL

    Maybe you should visit Cape May and then read the book. ;)

    BTW, I know of at least 4 haunted places in Vicksburg - one was in the 18th-century house that served as the main building for Daniel's elementary school (a Civil War soldier was buried on the grounds) and another is owned by a friend. She was creeped out and had the house "blessed", which did work!

  6. Anonymous3:58 PM

    It really is a perfect Halloween read, bookfool! Some of those Bed and Breakfasts mentioned (and verified by Craig McManus as having ghosts) can make good money renting out rooms to people who want to be spooked out! I've never had a ghost encounter and don't mind if I do, so I would be a very willing guest! :)

  7. Have you read the book, Lotus? That's exactly what McManus said - people will pay to stay in a haunted place, so they should quit hiding their ghosties. LOL The friend that sent this book said she wanted to know which places were haunted so she could avoid them, though, so I guess it goes both ways.

    He was so convincing, but I still don't even know if I believe in my own "ghost encounter". I thought it was so funny when McManus said (this is not an exact quote), "I wonder if people who don't believe in ghosts believe in space flight or email? They're equally improbable."

  8. Hey, Nancy. Thanks for adding my gardening blog to your link-list. I may not have a lot to post over there during the winter months, but ya never know. There's always the cooking blog if you get bored. :)

    I'd ask my friend about Cape May, but he's one of a handful of "friends" that dropped off the radar a year ago May. Some folks just couldn't deal with our loss and rather than make an attempt (even a feeble attempt would've been appreciated), he and a few others basically turned and fled. Not uncommon, really. Several of the people we've met at Compassionate Friends (for bereaved parents) have said the same. You wind up re-writing your address book. Fortunately, we've made many new friends in the meantime. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the Siddons book. I've only read a couple by her and this seemed to be a bit of a departure. I'm going to see if my hubby will read it.

  9. Les,

    I'm sorry to hear that, although I do understand. It's a strange phenomenon, not being able to cope with someone else's loss.

    I've never read an Anne Rivers Siddons book, as far as I know. Her others didn't appeal to me, but this one sounds great.

    Yes, I figure the gardening blog may end up photos of snow at some point, but I've meant to link up to your gardening blog for a long time. I'm just very, very forgetful!!

  10. Nancy,

    I haven't read a lot of Siddons' books (maybe just one or two others, that I can remember). I absolutely loved Colony. It's big, but such a beautiful narrative, a bit like Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shellseekers. I have lots more by Siddons that I snagged at a library sale. I'll get to them eventually!

  11. I spent a few nights at a B&B in Cape May once over the Christmas holidays one year. It was delightful.

    I wish I would have had this book then. How much more fun it would have been to be there!

  12. Les,

    I haven't read Rosamunde Pilcher, either. Am I missing something wonderful?


    You'll just have to go back to Cape May and buy the book while you're there. ;) He's just released a second book of Cape May ghost tales and I really, really want to get my mitts on it (and spend the night in a turret - always wanted to live in a place with turrets, actually).

  13. Well, The Shellseekers is one of my all-time favorite books. I think it was my first experience reading something "lyrical." Definitely a winner, at least in my book. She has others that are quite good, but this one's my favorite of Pilcher's.

  14. Well, Les, I guess I'll have to look that one up, some time! Thanks for the answer, even if it does mean you've made my list longer, again. LOL


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