I read Grave’s End perhaps ten years ago, picking up a copy from my local used bookstore’s paranormal section. I devoured the true story in a weekend, but then I forgot much of it.
Reading it again for a school assignment, I believe I forgot the content because Elaine Mercado makes the extraordinary completely ordinary. Elaine immerses the reader in the daily events of her family. The strange happenings take place while the family sleeps, does homework, and all manner of mundane tasks.
We aren’t swept away to an extravagant estate with a crumbling mansion. We meet a young family eager to trade their cold apartment for a house. They purchase the home largely because it’s the only one they can afford.
When mists, lights, and apparitions appear, the reader understands the unease Elaine and her children feel. More than the things that go bump in the night, Elaine helps us understand that they had to stay. Financially, it wasn’t feasible for them to move, and for much of the story, Elaine’s spouse is a non-believer.
Elaine shares how tired she is. The disturbances in the night ruin her sleep, but she has to carry on with work and life all the same. She works overnights for a while, sleeping during the day, and that choice resonated with me. Elaine is a working mother, and the spooky things are just part of their lives. She figures out ways to cope and carry on.
Grave’s End is largely a story about a family. They work, they have slumber parties, they have pets, and all the other ordinary trappings of a working-class family. It’s special how close the unexplainable experiences bring Elaine to her daughters, as none of them ran away from the unusual experiences in the home. They rallied around each other, making the best of things, and enjoying the periodic lulls in the activity in their homes.
The house is cleansed by a medium and a famous parapsychologist. The reader is treated to a pleasant ending where Elaine and her second husband largely live happily ever after.
There’s no sense of foreboding at the end, no ominous feeling that the weirdness isn’t over. Everything is tied up in a neat bow. Compared to the fiction books we’ve read about haunted houses, this non-fiction tale leaves us able to sleep soundly with all the lights off.