The stories Descy shares come in three categories: the lost, the forgotten, and the paranormal. Each chapter starts with a region’s background and history before diving into particular sites worth hunting down, “Secret Space”s and “Mysterious Place”s like the remains of the Highland Life-Saving Station. The breadth and depth of Descy’s knowledge is matched by his skills as a prose stylist—he writes concise, comprehensive and readable history in an easy-going style, relating complex history in just a few pages. Many of the stories are tragic, with illness and loss of life abounding.
Economy of language helps makes this guidebook inviting and effective, whether Descy’s celebrating the poet Mary Oliver’s walking path, an old jail, or a ghostly apparition purported to have appeared on a beach in the dead of night. The final part of each entry is practical, offering clear directions to the site. It is worth noting that not all of the locations are easily accessible. The directions to the Great Hidden Brickworks warn of “...poison ivy, ticks, mud and tripping hazards”—finding any area’s most fascinating spots can demand muddying up one’s shoes. Descy’s book is a highly interesting and accessible entry into not just the odd and obscure features of Cape Cod, but also an excellent history of the island itself.
Takeaway: Enticingly written guide to Cape Cod’s most fascinating secrets.
Comparable Titles: Barbara Sillery’s Haunted Cape Cod’s Sea Captains, Shipwrecks, and Spirits, Erin Briggs’s Massachusetts Bucket List.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A