The Big Book of New Jersey Ghost Stories by Patricia A. Martinelli and Charles A. Stansfield, Jr.

Big Book of New Jersey Ghost Stories
The Big Book of New Jersey Ghost Stories

Of course, since it’s October, I wanted to review a book of ghost stories.  I love Halloween, and when the days get shorter and the air is crisp, I’m always in the mood for some spooky tales.  The Big Book of New Jersey Ghost Stories recounts hauntings and other strange happenings all over the Garden State.  The reader is sure to learn some interesting historical facts or even find a new creepy place to visit after settling in to enjoy this book.

The book is helpfully divided into four sections:  North Jersey, Central Jersey, South Jersey, and the Shore Region so that readers may quickly locate places or stories of interest.  Some of New Jersey’s most famous legends are covered:  Gravity Hill, the Jersey Devil, Blackbeard’s Treasure, and Molly Pitcher, among others.  However, the stories cover a wide range of topics and occurrences, some more obscure than others.   Some delve into historic sites or famous places, others simply involve one-time paranormal experiences of a resident.  Still others aren’t even really ghost stories: alien invasions, serial killers, yeti sightings, and Orson Welles’ performance of World of the Worlds are all included in the book.

“Vintage Halloween costume snapshot” (CC BY 2.0) by simpleinsomnia

Some of the stories I really enjoyed.  My favorite was the series of stories relating to Greenwich, Cumberland County.  The descriptions of Ye Greate Way and historic buildings caused me to immediately look up the township website and find the buildings discussed.  The book contains stories of varying lengths and some are extremely short, maybe a paragraph in length.  I did not enjoy these as much, as there really wasn’t enough substance to connect to the story.

For readers wishing to learn more about New Jersey or to revisit an old urban legend about their hometown, this is a fun resource.  The ground treaded is really nothing new or innovative, but the range of collected stories should appeal to a wide audience.

More spooky.
“Two women pose with their skeleton friend” (CC BY 2.0) by simpleinsomnia

If you are looking for pre-Halloween Stephen King-esque thrills, look elsewhere.  I’ve read deeply creepy works about the Duck Island Killer and the Jersey Devil that have kept me awake at night.  I read this book before bed several nights without losing any sleep.  But, for some mildly spooky fun that I think is pretty safe for the whole family, I would recommend this book.

Happy Reading and Happy Halloween!

The Big Book of New Jersey Ghost Stories, by Martinelli, Patricia A. and Stansfield, Jr., Charles A.
Call # J133.1 M385 Jerseyana-ask Librarian


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About Regina Fitzpatrick

I'm the Genealogy Librarian here at the State Library. I love researching New Jersey Family History, and am always happy to help researchers delve further into their ancestries. Please feel free to stop by and say hello!