Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Spirits and Ghosts in World Mythology (Theresa Bane, 2016)

A few months ago, I received a book from McFarland & Company, Inc. for review, courtesy of the book’s author and my good friend, Theresa Bane. Theresa and I have been corresponding for a few years now, and she is an absolute delight to speak to and interact with. In addition, Theresa is a renowned vampirologist and an expert on the Undead. She has written two books about vampires and a number of others about demons, giants, faeries, monsters, haunted places, folklore, and ghosts. It is the last one that the book in question covers, and it is entitled Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits in World Mythology (McFarland & Company, 2016).

Like most of Theresa’s books, the encyclopedia is an academic work, and every type of ghost and spirit gets an entry of its own in an A-Z format. Theresa’s research is painstakingly thorough, and the bibliography is one of the longest and the most extensive that I’ve ever seen. Some of the book’s entries are long and very detailed, while others consist of only a single sentence and only give a brief description. However, most of the entries fall somewhere in between the two. And after each entry, Theresa gives her sources. And for a book of only 169 pages, that’s a lot of information!

As for the book’s entries, they contain information on every conceivable type of ghost and spirit, including appearance, habits, powers, what part of the world they’re found in, how to protect oneself and, in some instances, how to destroy them. This book contains a number of different spirit types, including spirits of the dead (ghosts), nature spirits, faeries, yōkai, demonic spirits, household spirits, elementals, ancestral spirits, vampiric spirits, genii loci (spirits attached to a place), guardian spirits, monsters, different types of djinn, and a great deal more. The entries feature all kinds of entities, from the Banshee (and all variations thereof) to the Ghoul, from the Acheri to the Grey Lady, and a host of others in alphabetical order, from the Aatxe to the Zuzeca. And since this book deals with ghosts and spirits that are found in cultures all over the world, you won’t find any information pertaining to haunted places of any kind. There are literally thousands of books on that subject available for your perusal.

Overall, Theresa’s book is well-written, neatly organized, free of flaws, and a veritable treasure trove of information. Her research is incredibly thorough and detailed, with an index for quickly locating specific entries and an extensive bibliography for further reading and research. Whether you’re a serious researcher or just curious, this book is an incredible read. I am truly thankful that McFarland & Company and Theresa have given me the opportunity to review this title, and I hope to review more of their titles in the near future. I heartily recommend this title to all of my friends.

Publisher: McFarland – – 800-253-2187 (Order Line)

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