Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel
The versatile Kerriann Flanagan Brosky’s works include Historic Crimes of Long Island (reviewed in this paper October 2017), Ghosts of Long Island, The Medal, and Delectable Italian Dishes for Family and Friends, among others. Haunted America (a division of The History Press) presents her latest work, Haunted Long Island Mysteries, a well-crafted overview of various sites of supernatural activity from Sag Harbor to Port Washington. Brosky has once again teamed up with medium and paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto to explore a range of “spirited” hauntings.
This is Brosky’s fourth ghost book: “The journey of investigating over one hundred presumably haunted locales on Long Island has led me to understand many things, including the importance of these spiritual beings and how they relate to our past and history, to the continuity of life after death and to the ability to communicate with our loved ones after they have passed.” Brosky finds the place where history and the spirit world eloquently intersect with the paranormal.
Both Brosky and Giaquinto come from a grounded and focused point of view. They are not looking for converts. Instead, they ask the reader to keep an open mind. “We are simply putting our research and investigations out there for one to ponder while at the same time teaching you about local history and the importance of preserving it.”
Each chapter focuses on a specific location: a house, an inn, a cemetery, a restaurant, etc. From Setauket to Patchogue, Babylon to Stony Brook — many of these places (18 in all) will be familiar to the readers from reading about or even visiting them.
First, Brosky provides a meticulously researched background, with detailed notes on the construction and physical elements. Next, she succinctly proceeds to accounts of the occupants’ lives throughout the years—the families, the marriages, the breaks, the affairs. Finally, having established context, she arrives at the present, interviewing caretakers, directors, docents, and board members. She then connects past to present, highlighting any of the unusual occurrences.
The final section of most chapters is composed of Brosky and Giaquinto’s actual work in the location, including photography, video, and, most interesting, the use of a ghost box. A ghost box (also known as a spirit box) contacts spirits using radio frequency. The result is EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena): human-sounding voices from an unknown source heard on recorded data from an audiotape, radio station noise, or other electronic media. The book contains portions of transcriptions, but readers may listen to the actual recordings by visiting www.ghostsoflongisland.com, then clicking on Haunted Long Island Mysteries.
The book contains accounts of orbs of light, dark silhouettes, footsteps in the middle of the night, and slamming doors. There are rooms where the temperature is exceptionally and inexplicably cold. There are scents with no source. But it is not about things that go bump in the night (though many do, including the voice of a screaming woman). Instead, it is about the energy and the presence (perhaps more blessed than haunted). Most of the encounters are with benign and even welcoming entities. Whether focusing on a member of the Culper Spy Ring, a library custodian, a mother guilty of filicide, or victims of a shipwreck, Brosky shows respect for her mission.
For believers, the book presents an ideal blend of history and mystery. For others, the exceptional scholarship provides an undeniably detailed examination of a range of Long Island settings. The work celebrates the scientific, not the sensational. This world is not populated by fanatics or conspiracy theories but people who have experienced events and connections for which they cannot find an explanation.
Brosky offers many perspectives in the dozens of interviews. “People always ask us if we have ghosts,” states Frank Giebfried, a docent and board member at Meadow Croft in Sayville. “I have not really experienced anything, just a little voice here or there, but nothing that I would attribute to anything supernatural. I’m a skeptic, but I’m not going to not believe the things people tell me they experience.”
Brosky honors groups like the Bayport-Bluepoint Heritage Association, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization and the Oyster Bay Historical Society for their work in preserving these historical sites and making them available to the public.
The last two chapters are devoted to the Sundance Stables in Manorville, with the final chapter focusing on Rebecca Weissbard, who died in 2016 at age twenty-two. A gifted equestrian, “Becca” died in a horseback riding incident. Her detailed story is the ideal coda because of the resonance of its deeply personal nature.
Giaquinto best sums up Haunted Long Island Mysteries: “There is something for everyone in this book. If you love history, it’s in the book. If you like to read ghost stories and urban legends, there are many to peruse here. And if you’ve ever been curious how a paranormal researcher does their work, you’ll find it here as well.”
Haunted Long Island Mysteries is available online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Learn more about the author at www.kerriannflanaganbrosky.com.