Category Archives: True Crime


Litercurious Book Review

Ghost of the Orphanage – Christine Kenneally


Christine Kenneally PhD., is a proud Antipodean born in Melbourne. She is an exceptional, renown award-winning journalist and author. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Linguistics from Cambridge University.

Her debut non-fiction manuscript, “The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language,” earned her a  place as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her next publication, “The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures,” was well received, being included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014. The investigation that would become the inspiration for Ghosts of the Orphanage began with a piece that she was researching whilst working as a senior contributor for BuzzFeed. Her report was published in August of 2018 and was hugely successful; winning an Online Journalism Award. Christine Kenneally also contributed to the Official Police Investigation into the crimes that took place at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. 


Ghosts of the Orphanage is a stirring masterpiece of investigative journalism. Christine Kenneally shares her exploration of the atrocities committed on the wards of St. Joseph’s Orphanage by their ecclesiastical key turns. What follows is a catalogue of crimes that were subjected to police investigation. An investigation that exposed the daily routine horrors that the children endured during their time as reluctant guests of St. Joseph’s reprehensible clerical form of hospitality. 

Ghosts of the Orphanage present’s a panoply of horrific first person recollections of historic, systemic, and religious sponsored child abuse. Kenneally documents multiple victims accounts that coalesce into nightmarish clarity. She exposes the range of neglect and abuse that include: verbal, physical, sexual, mindless violence, cruelty and psychological tortures metered out to the wards of St. Joseph’s. The innocent children would go on to suffer lifetimes of horror, depression, survivors’ guilt, and nightmares.

Keanneally primarily focuses on the accounts of five victims; revealing their vivid and disturbing back-stories. The author exposes the gross and disturbing traumas of the former captives through her skillful dogged determination and dedicated research methods. Through her persistent and unrelenting efforts, she blows the whistle on the generational systematic abuse and neglect that resulted in so many casualties. Internee’s of these religious institutions, according to Kenneally, were subjected to crimes of the most egregious natures. These poor victims suffered decade after decade whilst their alleged abusers still remain unpunished.

It is common among children that endured such abhorrent treatment to self-medicate in later life. They suffer neurological problems, substance abuse issues and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Many survivors attempted to suppress their recollections of the trauma to which they had been subjected; insightfully, Kenneally includes this in her observations.


Christine Kenneally skillfully uncovers a culture of dehumanization and abuse on an industrial scale at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. She applies considerable talents to uncovering the evidence that include: first-person accounts, primary sources, diary extracts, and a range of official documentation to expose the heinous crimes committed against untold numbers of children over decades. The evidence recovered reveals the dark devilish history of the orphanage and the evil actions of the demon inspired clergy.

Ghosts of the Orphanage is an important work as it documents, not just the numerous crimes committed against the children, but also exposes the conspiracy of silence.

This book will likely effect the reader on many personal and emotional levels. It may leave you haunted, angry, sad, and even a little vengeful. The graphic descriptions of mindless cruelty, physical and psychological tortures make the blood run cold. It would be bad enough if this culture of terror was an isolated incident; but a brief internet search will reveal that the same culture spanned the globe in numerous religious institutions. These poor children suffered such great atrocities at the hands of their jailers, and it seems no one cared. The feelings that this book engendered in me are intense and difficult to forget.

Ghosts of the Orphanage makes for difficult reading. I found myself profoundly moved by the graphic nature of the horrors described. The children’s recollections left me with a deep sense of unease and were extremely emotive.

I would like to tell you that the victim accounts are the worst part of this book. However, the decades of abuse remain unpunished to this day, leaving the victims without meaningful justice. The casualties are left to suffer the emotional and psychological fall-out of their abuse leaving them to exist in an uncaring, disinterested world. A world who has yet to discover the degrees of horrors which plagued their young lives.

The narrative instilled a longlasting impression upon me and an infinite number of questions. There is one question that haunts me still:

What ever happened to little Mary Clark?

Be prepared to be enraged. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Christine Kenneally, PublicAffairs and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search for Justice .


Great to see you again! Thank you for visiting us here at Litercurious. We appreciate your patronage and look forward to providing you with the best experience possible on each and every visit. Feel free to suggest any books or audiobooks through our contact link if you so wish. We look forward to your next fist. Feel free to share our posts on social media.