“An exciting paranormal mystery I couldn't put down… A great read, especially for this time of the year. If you love ghost stories, you'll love Crimson at Cape May. Highly recommend!” ★★★★★—N.N. Light’s BookHeaven
Ghosts, the Essence of Halloween
Join me in enjoying this guest post on the Essence of Halloween by author Randy Overbeck.
If you do the research, you’ll find that the day we call Halloween has a complicated origin story. Probably the earliest source for this unique holiday actually dates back over two thousand years to an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain. These ancient Celts celebrated November 1 as their new year—the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of a long, cold winter. The night before, October 31, they believed the ghosts of the dead returned and roamed the earth.
Then, when the Romans conquered the Celts, around 43 A.D., they combined the Samhain with their own festival known as Feralia, a day to honor the dead—which of course included the recognition of the spirits of our passed loved ones, some still present among us.
Move forward a few hundred years and Pope Gregory designated November 1 as All Saints Day, a holiday to honor all Christian martyrs and saints. A few centuries later, as Christianity spread over Celtic lands, the festivals of Samhain and Feralia were subsumed into what was called All Hallowed Eve—October 31—since it was the night before All Saints Day. All Hallowed Eve became a night to honor those we had lost…and perhaps recognize their ghosts among us.
European settlers then brought this tradition across the ocean. In America, the beliefs of different ethnic groups about the dead and ghosts meshed with the beliefs of Native Americans about the spirit world to yield our very American idea of Halloween. For example, in Colonial America, Halloween festivals included the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making in the spirits’ honor.
You might see a theme emerging here.
For centuries, this time of year has been a time for remembering the dead and acknowledging that some of those who have passed are still among us. While you are far more likely to encounter chainsaw murderers or howling werewolves at haunted houses or pass an eerie alien or blood-sucking vampire trick-or-treating, they are not really what Halloween is about.
Across the years, the celebration we call All Hallowed Eve or Halloween has always been about the ghosts of those we have lost…and wondering if, perhaps, these spirits might still be among us. I’d argue the mystery of Halloween is best captured by pondering if those who have gone before us might, on this special night, have something to tell us…if we are willing to listen.
The persistence of these beliefs, even until today, is just one of the reasons I chose to wrap a ghost story of those who have passed into the cold-case murder mystery in each of my Haunted Shores Mysteries. And what could be a better way to celebrate All Hallowed Eve than to curl up with an award-winning ghost story/mystery like Crimson at Cape May?
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author, and speaker. As an educator,
he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from
teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind
(2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake,
Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five-star reviews and
garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year--ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold
Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart
of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr.
Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’
critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing
conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop.
When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation,
“Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of
wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
Social Media Handles
Tik Tok @authorrandyo
· Release by Wild Rose Press—September 13, 2021
· Paranormal mystery
· 364 pp.
All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.
When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.
Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrants children haunt them, pleading for help.
“Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn't stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars." –N. N. Light's Book Heaven
“A rollercoaster of a mystery, hurtling up and down hills and sharp corners until the very end, when the reader is left slightly breathless, waiting for their hearts to beat back to a normal rhythm. ★★★★★—ReadersView
“Scarlet at Crystal River is a suspenseful paranormal novel with compelling characters and an enigmatic mystery that drives the story to a riveting conclusion. Overbeck is a master at building tension–-this is easily a one-sitting read.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan
Scarlet at Crystal River Trailer: