Book Review: Thomas D’Agostino’s Haunted Rhode Island

hauntedrhodeisland copyFall is my absolute favorite season. The temperature is at a close to perfect level — not so hot and humid that sweat drenches everything nearly immediately and not too cold that everyone is bundled up like the common Eskimo. Football season is underway, baseball playoffs are in full swing, and hockey and basketball are just starting. People argue over the importance of a racist Columbus while enjoying a three-day weekend in his name. Apples and pumpkins are filling tummies and porches (respectively) and everyone is posting Misfits songs on Facebook. The air is both beautifully crisp and terrifying eerie, a lovely combination.

Fall brings out the daredevil in a good chunk of people as they gear up for All Hallow’s Eve. Houses are turned into dungeons of varying degrees (from scary to cartoony), candy is bought at an alarming rate, and costumes from slutty to silly fly off the shelves to help people try on different personas for at least one night. A lot of people take trips to Salem for guided tours and other scary shenanigans that are all relatively safe. Then there are those who are a little more daring, with the courage to explore alleged haunted areas on their own for a cheap thrill and a Monday morning story to impress coworkers. It’s for those people that I highly recommend Haunted Rhode Island.

This book explores numerous places in Rhode Island that are considered haunted, and writer Thomas D’Agostino does his due diligence on all of these locations in 29 Rhode Island cities and towns. Each location mentioned contains a little bit about the area, the background of why it is haunted and some eyewitness accounts (if there are any). To write the book, D’Agostino examined a good number of these locations, feeling the haunted chill in his very bones. Each section ends with basic directions to the landmark.

Some of my favorite spots to read about were Devil’s Foot Rock, which has an amazing backstory with a spirit that travels throughout New England. The story is tragic and fascinating at the same time. I didn’t know that the carousal at Crescent Park in East Providence was haunted, but it makes total sense. Ladd School is always fascinating, although most of it has been destroyed. I was especially fond of the story of the Black Horse Tavern in Scituate, which I’ve passed thousands of times in my life (without any haunted happenings).

Haunted Rhode Island serves as a guide for those looking to explore — one that should be on the bookshelf of local thrill-seekers or any historian of the odd and unexplained. My suggestion is to buy a Rhode Island atlas to accompany this book (challenge yourself to not use Google maps or GPS to find landmarks that are hundreds of years old). Then, pick a city or town (or numerous cities or towns) and map out your nightly exploration agenda. Read the section to learn a little bit of the backstory, make sure everything you’re taking is fully charged or has fresh batteries, and have fun (or at least try not to have a ghost come home with you).

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