Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween Treat: Why Do Ghost Stories Persist?

An essay by Parul Sehgal was previously published in THE NEW YORK TIMES Book Review. The topic was appropriate for Halloween: Why the ghost story persists.

Sehgal observed: “Literature — the top-shelf, award-winning stuff — is positively ectoplasmic these days, crawling with hauntings, haints and wraiths of every stripe and disposition.” I myself have found much more of a demand for stories with a supernatural edge than those set in the verisimilitude of reality. Maybe people are looking for psychological escapes from the real world more than ever.

Many of the classics of literature such as Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw” or Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” provide us with eerie ghost stories. Today’s ghost stories vary. They may be written in the classic mold or entirely unique. They may reflect our modern society or hearken back to the past. Sehgal observed: “ghost stories are never just reflections. They are social critiques…” 

In my novel DARK MOON RISING, there are two ghosts, women from two different centuries who haunt the family home of the men who wronged them. These ghosts seek justice via revenge.

Sehgal commented that ghost stories are often drenched in sex and violence. But obviously that is not the only thing that makes them appealing to readers. I think that one strong appeal of ghost stories is the suggestion that there is life after death.

What is your opinion? Also, are there any ghost stories that particularly have appeal to you or you found memorable?


  1. I enjoy a good ghost story and I am also a paranormal writer. I think the interest is natural for humans and one we think about more as we age.

    1. Maggie,

      I agree with you. I also enjoy reading and writing paranormal stories. As Shakespeare says: "There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in our philosophy."

  2. Interesting information, Jacqueline!
    I don't normally read a lot of paranormal...but I LOVE Nora Roberts In the Garden and Inn Boonsboro series ...both have a resident ghost.

    Good luck and God's blessings with your book(s)!

  3. Hi Pam,

    Yes, Nora Roberts has written a number of paranormal romances.

  4. Having had a few paranormal experiences, I am comfortable with ghosts in literature. One of my favorites is Bob Bickford's Deadly Kiss. Dark Moon Rising has an appealing title and cover, and I'm eager to see Jacqueline's treatment of ghosts in a romance.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Saralyn. I haven't read Deadly Kiss but it sounds intriguing.

  5. I believe in creepy ghosts...
    though ghosts cannot hurt me.
    Im covered by the Blood.
    Wanna believe ..??

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