When I first started reading this book, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it resembed ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, a YA horror I read recently. Storr has an unusual writing style, very evocative, that sometimes borders more into fiction than non-fiction. Sometimes this is hilarious and brilliant, such as when he describes the “skeptical monsterologist” or the “confusing” breakfast of “sausages that are shaped like hamburgers, scrambled eggs with sugar in them, and ‘biscuits’ that are actually scones.” At other times it was distracting, such as when he described the innkeeper’s reactions to sleeping in “Alice’s room” in her house with such detail that I couldn’t help but feel it lost journalistic integrity.
But in general, his journalism is amazing. Storr has the perfect blend of skepticism and credulity, and he has good accuracy at bringing out the right details to let you know what he thinks of the people he’s interviewing without really saying it. He interviews Jesus-freak middle-America types who think their autistic son is possessed, women who channel spirits as a hobby, a real-life exorcist, parapsychologists, a woman who was once the center of the poltergeist incident that inspired the movie by the same name, and a couple of rather sad men who continually patrol a popular camping spot searching for satanists.
The book also veers into the philosophical at times. What are ghosts? What are poltergeists? What causes hauntings? What touched him on the back when he was spending the night in the haunted house? If they aren’t real, why do so many people report the same things? While he doesn’t conclusively answer these questions (and honestly, how could you?) he does present evidence to support multiple theories.
If you’re interested in ghosts or haunted houses or other paranormal phenomenon, and you’re not firmly wedded to either the believing or skeptical camp, give this a read.