A couple year ago Wellesley was blessed with a new blog, Ghosts in the Burbs. Or cursed. It all depends on how you feel about spine-tingling ghost stories all set in Wellesley, a town that apparently attracts spirits galore, both benign and evil, due to its particularly placed “ley lines and vortexes.”
In her blog posts, Wellesley mom and former Wellesley Children’s Room librarian, Liz Sower has a way of pegging the town’s residents with her incredible ear for dialogue and eye for the town’s social scene. Now she’s applied those skills to her first novel, Claire, Ghosts in the Burbs Volume 1. The eerie little self-published, 185-page book tells the story of three sort of bitchy and rather inseparable queen-bee type moms — Hillary, Vanessa, and Jill — living the Wellesley dream. They’re thin, rich, live in big houses, drive big cars, know how to dress casually yet stunningly, and they do love their wine. It all sounds perfectly normal so far.
Not all as it appears
They also all grew up in Wellesley, ran in the same clique together at WHS, married their WHS high school sweethearts, and live in the same neighborhood. Ok, that’s all a little strange, but still sort of idyllic-sounding, in a way. There’s just one tragic flaw in the three women’s perfect lives. In their senior year back in the 90s after a night of drinking and carousing at Morses Pond, the fourth member of their cozy crew, Claire, apparently drowned. Claire’s body may have attended a proper funeral and burial, but her spirit is very much still wandering around the soccer fields and beautifully renovated homes of Wellesley. The question is, why is Claire’s spirit still here? And why is she so present in the lives of her old “friends”?
Fast forward 15 or so years and Hillary, Vanessa, and Jill tell Sower what really happened that night at Morses Pond, and the book gets scarier and scarier. In Claire, Sower expands on one of her earlier stories telling her readers, “Three women told me a horrific tale from their past and in doing so involved me in their horror. You may have heard part of this story before but I didn’t tell you everything….. This is the complete story of Claire.”
Mrs. Swellesley is a character, but you already knew that
I am delighted to appear in the book as the local news source with answers. Because part of the story is set in the 1990s, a time when according to Vanessa “…you could actually keep personal events quiet,” Claire’s drowning story has been more or less forgotten, and it’s not something that turns up with a simple Google search. But Sower knows how to at least verify that a young girl died at Morses Pond years ago. “I reached out to Deborah Brown. She and her husband created The Swellesley Report, an online news source for all things Wellesley. If anyone would know something about the drowning, Deborah would.”
In the book, my character promises to dig into it.
Please let the book me be able to find something out about it, I prayed, please don’t have Sower have to kick the question over to The Townsman, oh please let me be the journalist hero. Indeed, I found this to be by far the most terrifying part of the book. As I read on, I experienced a rare, powerless lack of editorial control, and it didn’t feel good. But then, triumph.
Oh yeah, book character Deborah Brown came through with answers, big time.
You never know…
But enough about me, let’s talk some more about Claire. It was a great, fast, Halloween-time read that left me wanting more. There’s no shortage of spirits, ghosts, and subplots that all tie together. The greatest of spooky story tropes are liberally and effectively mixed in. Look for Ouija boards, sage smudging, exorcisms by Catholic priests, mediums, creepy reflections in mirrors, and ethereal figures that dart around corners so quickly they might not have been there at all. Except they were.
By the end, there were characters who had only just begun to experience the comeuppances they deserved. That’s why I’m waiting anxiously for Claire, Ghosts in the Burbs Vol. 2. I just have to find out more about what happens to those seemingly perfect Wellesley families behind the closed doors of those seemingly perfect Wellesley houses. Surely they won’t be allowed to stay that thin and that rich and that smooth-browed, all without the rigors of diet, yoga, and Botox.
No, indeed, certain characters must pay for what they’ve done. Let the horror continue.
Oh and by the way, over coffee at Caffe Nero, Sower mentioned ever-so-casually that if Swellesley readers want to contact her for no special reason at all, just to, you know, say hi-I’ve-got-a-ghost-in-my-house-can-you-please-listen-to-my-story, or whatever, they can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to follow her on Twitter.