Review: Haunted Love: Tales of Ghostly Soulmates, Spooky Suitors, and Eternal Love

By Pamela K. Kinney

haunted_loveGonsalves, Chris. Haunted Love: Tales of Ghostly Soulmates, Spooky Suitors, and Eternal Love. Globe Pequot; First edition (December 22, 2009). Paperback. 224 pp. $14.95. ISBN: 978-0762752768

Haunted Love: Tales of Ghostly Soulmates, Spooky Suitors, and Eternal Love by Chris Gonsalves is a varied collection of ghost stories and legends from around the world, all to do with love. As an author of my own nonfiction ghost books, I figured this would be one book I’d like to read.

The book begins with “The Lady with the Lantern”. This story is set in historic St. Augustine, Florida, at the Bayfront Boarding House, which later became the Casablanca Inn. The two lovers in this tale are Anna, a high-born member of St. Augustine’s society and George, a hustler, petty thief and con man, who graduated to rumrunner during the Prohibition. A couple so unlikely and yet, Anna falls in love with George. George convinces Anna to help him by using a lantern to warn him and his cohorts if any Federal agents who are looking for bootleggers are at the boarding house. This way, the rumrunners stay away with their illegal cargo until Anna let them know it was safe to come ashore. This arrangement suits both parties wonderfully.

One night, some agents come to stay at the house and a bad storm roars to life. Anna uses the lantern as she has done countless times before. However, this is the first time she raises the lantern after discovering she truly loves George. This makes the task more stressful. The agents return empty-handed, never finding the rumrunners. They leave the boarding house and head back to D.C. Neither George nor his crew are ever seen again. It is thought they all perished at sea during the storm. Anna passes away a decade later. That should have been the end of the tale, but it wasn’t. For when the place became Casablanca Inn, she began haunting it. She was heard and seen at the inn with witnesses ranging from fishermen to guests staying at the Casablanca. The interesting thing about this particular story is that, as Anna was a member of the elite of the city, in order to save face to family members and descendants, her last name is never revealed. Even her first name is in debate. It could be the real one or a pseudonym.

This is just the first legend in Haunted Love. There are seventeen stories in total. I enjoyed all of them, but did have my favorites, like “The Lady with the Lantern”. Another one is “Emily’s Bridge”, set in a sleepy Vermont town [Ed. This tale also appears in Weird New England]. Here, the teenage ghost, jilted by a tradesman’s son her father did not want her to marry, still torments those who approach the bridge she hung herself from. Her ghost is always seen rushing at those who attempt to cross the bridge, shrieking.

This book shows that love survives, even beyond death. That lovers still wait for their loved ones to return, or that those double-crossed by those they connected with, still act out their anger and betrayal with a vengeance.

So, if you enjoy a good ghost story, whether based on truth or legend, then this book is for you. And with winter here, what better way to spend a cold night indoors? Just one thing though: keep the lights on. For even a ghostly love story can be scary.