Books

5 Frightening Reads for Halloween!

5 Frightening Reads for Halloween!

Halloween is just around the corner so here are five fiendish books to get yourself into the spooky spirit!

The Devil WithinThe Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West

Author: Brian Levack

Publisher: Yale University Press (April 23, 2013)

Summary

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the era of the Reformation, thousands of Europeans were thought to be possessed by demons. In response to their horrifying symptoms—violent convulsions, displays of preternatural strength, vomiting of foreign objects, displaying contempt for sacred objects, and others—exorcists were summoned to expel the evil spirits from victims’ bodies. This compelling book focuses on possession and exorcism in the Reformation period, but also reaches back to the fifteenth century and forward to our own times.

Entire convents of nuns in French, Italian, and Spanish towns, 30 boys in an Amsterdam orphanage, a small group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts—these are among the instances of demon possession in the United States and throughout Europe that Brian Levack closely examines, taking into account the diverse interpretations of generations of theologians, biblical scholars, pastors, physicians, anthropologists, psychiatrists, and historians. Challenging the commonly held belief that possession signals physical or mental illness, the author argues that demoniacs and exorcists—consciously or not—are following their various religious cultures, and their performances can only be understood in those contexts.


Vampires and VampirismVampires and Vampirism

Author: Montague Summers

Publisher: Dover Publications (January 26, 2005)

Summary

Any investigation into vampire legends leads inevitably to the works of Montague Summers (1880-1948), whose research and writings in the 1920s established him as the subject’s preeminent authority. This study examines vampire lore in fantastic detail, constituting a record of folk beliefs unequaled in its sheer scope and depth. It features all the apparatus of an academic work, including footnotes and references to rare source documents, and it addresses such issues as how vampires came into existence, vampirish behavior, vampire-like ancient myths, and vampires in modern literature. Unabridged republication of the classic 1929 edition. Introduction. Bibliography. Index.

 


Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern England: Contemporary Texts and their Cultural Contexts Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern England

Author: Philip C. Almond

Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition (August 20, 2007)

Summary

Exclusively devoted to demonic possession and exorcism in early modern England, this book offers modernized versions of the most significant texts on nine cases of demonic possession from 1570 to 1650. The nine stories of demonic possession were either written by eyewitnesses or derived from eyewitness reports. The modernized texts and critical Introductions are analyzed within the context of an Introduction to demonic possession in England ranging from the period 1550 to 1700.


The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Deception, Witchcraft, Murder, and the King of EnglandThe Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Deception, Witchcraft, Murder, and the King of England

Author: James Sharpe

Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (March 2, 2001)

Summary

In 1604, 20-year-old Anne Gunter was bewitched: she foamed at the mouth, contorted wildly in her bedchamber, went into trances. Her garters and bodices were perpetually unlacing themselves. Her signature symptom was to vomit pins and “she voided some pins downwards as well by her water or otherwise..” Popular history at its best, “The Bewitching of Anne Gunter” opens a fascinating window onto the past. It’s a tale of controlling fathers, willful daughters, nosy neighbors, power relations between peasants and gentry, and village life in early-modern Europe. Above all it’s an original and revealing story of one young woman’s experience with the greatly misunderstood phenomenon of witchcraft. James Sharpe is Professor of History at York University and the author of “Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in” “Early Modern History” and other works of social history.


The Phantom CoachThe Phantom Coach: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Ghost Stories

Author: Michael Sims

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (August 26, 2014)

Summary

Ghost stories date back centuries, but those written in the Victorian era have a unique atmosphere and dark beauty. Michael Sims, whose previous Victorian collections Dracula’s Guest (vampires) and The Dead Witness (detectives) have been widely praised, has gathered twelve of the best stories about humanity’s oldest supernatural obsession. The Phantom Coach includes tales by a surprising, often legendary cast, from Charles Dickens and Margaret Oliphant to Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as well as lost gems by forgotten masters such as Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and W.F. Harvey. Amelia Edwards’ chilling story gives the collection its title, while Ambrose Bierce (“The Moonlit Road”), Elizabeth Gaskell, (“The Old Nurse’s Story”) and W. W. Jacobs (“The Monkey’s Paw”) will turn you white as a sheet. With a skillful introduction to the genre and notes on each story by Michael Sims, The Phantom Coach is a spectacular collection of ghostly Victorian thrills.



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