The Black Book of Modern Myths: True Stories of the Unexplained by Alasdair Wickham

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The Black Book of Modern Myths: True Stories of the Unexplained by Alasdair Wickham

Category: Popular Science
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: While the book is interesting in places, and covers a wide range of paranormal phenomenon, an overly academic tone may put off more casual readers, and the emphasis on 'truth' and 'proof' is a little jarring given the supernatural subject matter.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 304 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Arrow Books
ISBN: 978-0099533627

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A collection of 'Modern Myths' from around the world, Wickham's Black Book covers a wide range of phenomenon, from ghosts to liminal creatures, poltergeists to demons. As an aficionado of all things paranormal, this should have been right up my street. However, I found myself struggling to get into it, and putting it down for something else on more than one occasion.

I think my biggest issue with it, is it's clear from the foreword that Wickham is a true believer. This isn't an exploration of curiosities, or a slightly tongue in cheek guide for the aspiring vampire hunter, it has all the pretensions of a scientific text. Except, by its very nature, the paranormal isn't scientific. It's supernatural, unprovable.

The tone, therefore, has some conflict. Wickham's enthusiasm for all things paranormal is evident, and there's plenty of supernatural to get your teeth into. I certainly learned a few things about some curious creatures from folklore around the world, but when the book turned to 'proving' things, it just became a bit tedious.

Clear discrepancies in stories were explained away by stating that police think discrepancies in witness stories prove truthfulness, as each witness will focus on different details according to their interests, involvements etc. Which is all fine, I believe that to the extent of someone saying a criminal had a big nose, while another focused on their ginger hair - but to try and explain away one person saying a creature was eight feet tall while another says it's little over a metre... well then I start to doubt the veracity of it all.

Wickham comes across as someone who wants to believe so much, that he's prepared to overlook a few telling details. And that's okay, each to his own - but not in a book that aims to be vaguely academic. The academic overtones may also put off the more casual reader; it's just not quite fun enough to sustain interest.

It's not that it wasn't interesting, because in small doses it was. A reviewer on Amazon called it a 'bathroom book', and I would agree - perfect for picking up and putting down every once in a while, but not the sort of thing that's going to grab your interest and force you to turn pages.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

Fellow paranormal aficionados may enjoy A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits by Carol and Dinah Mack

Buy The Black Book of Modern Myths: True Stories of the Unexplained by Alasdair Wickham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Black Book of Modern Myths: True Stories of the Unexplained by Alasdair Wickham at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Black Book of Modern Myths: True Stories of the Unexplained by Alasdair Wickham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Black Book of Modern Myths: True Stories of the Unexplained by Alasdair Wickham at Amazon.com.


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