By Raymond Buckland
Weiser Books, 2009 $14.95 US
Review by Daven
Before anyone accuses me of favoritism, I am a friend of Raymond Buckland (at least on this side). I’ve met him once at a convention, and I’ve corresponded with him extensively on matters concerning Seax-Wica. So I thought I would like this book when I saw it was by him. After all, I’ve enjoyed many other books that he has authored.
This book didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of information on ghosts, but because of the bredth of this particular subject, perhaps a better title would have been “Field Guide to Spirits”.
In this book Raymond talks about almost every kind of creature that does not have a body, and a few that do. He hits on everything from a poltergeist to a doppleganer to a pooka to a kelpie and also to Astral Travelers. Many of these creatures exist only on the Astral plane, so they can be considered ghosts if you really stretch the definition.
Call me a purist, but I don’t think “Ghosts” can actually be used to define a lot of what Raymond put in here. But, there is a lot that can be.
I’m going to give it to you unvarnished, this is a trove of information. Spirits and disembodied souls play a large part of every Pagan’s life, if only because we are talking to the Gods (about the only entity without a body that is NOT in here). So this is pretty much the guide to these creatures.
But, because there is so much, the brevity of many of the entities covered is very irritating. In one case, there was only two pages.
As an example for you: Raymond opens the entry of a specific class of entities (say Omen and Prophetic Ghosts) with an itallicised description of that particular entity. The description is very good, and pretty complete. In most cases it takes about a page and a half. There is usually an illustration to go with it, and then he cites examples of that type of Entity (in this case, a Fetch) and gives a story or anecdotes and some research about this example before moving on to the next entity. This can take a half a page or much more. There were two entries (that I remember) where there was only one example of the specific class of entity, which made for short reading.
Others he more than makes up for, in one case taking up 20 pages of examples, with stories and written sightings of that entity.
Toward the end of the book there are some entries on “Practical Ghost Hunting” and the equipment you may need. I couldn’t read this section very well because the review copy of this book I got should have been recycled. Several sets of pages (front and back) were misprinted and half the page was missing. Someone should get the person who was doing the quality checks and reprimand them. It was only a total of 8 front and back pages, but still, had this been in a store….
That fail aside, the book was entertaining. It looked and felt like an episode of “Ghost Hunters” in text format. There are illustrations that feel very old fashioned, but they work in the context of the book.
I’m going to give this book 3 1/2 stars of 5. It would have been 4 except for the page mess-up. And I would advise the publisher to go through the copies they are sending out a little more closely. If I got this one, I’m sure there are other copies out there like this.
Still and all, it’s a fun book, just as these Field Guides are supposed to be. If you like ghosts, I advise you to pick this up and add it to your collection.