Review – Ghost Writings: Beyond the Obvious

Do you enjoy reading stories with a supernatural flavor?

Here is my 5 star review for …

Ghost Writings: A Ghost Story Guide Deborah Bennison (Editor) and Neil Wilson (Introduction)
Published by Bennison Books

Non-fiction
July 26, 2014

Ghost Writings: Beyond the Obvious

Ghost Writings by D. BennisonThere is much to learn about the essence and evolution of the ghost story in the pages of the unique, precisely conceived and satisfyingly constructed ‘Ghost Writings’. It is not merely a listing of ghost stories and their authors, in this case British. It is rich in information about the genre, with introductory in-depth essays by the ghost story bibliographer, Neil Wilson, who offers fascinating insights into its fairy-tale, folk, religious and occult origins, its variations reflective of fashions and obsessions, and its development through the ‘golden age’ of spiritualism, artistic movements, and physiological, scientific and technological advancements such as radio and film.

Included are brief but tantalizing biographies. Ms. Bennison honors the obvious—masters of the craft like Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker—but, also, reveals “the double life” of literary figures not necessarily associated with the supernatural; one of the most surprising for me being E. Nesbitt, author of ‘The Railway Children’. There are others, great mainstream writers like L.P Hartley and D.H. Lawrence who ventured into other-worldly territory. Ghost Writings clears away the cobwebs from the lives and works of more obscure writers. The long list of female writers, a few well-known to me like Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell and Agatha Christie, insists—as do all the other categories—on being investigated further.

Traveling the ghost story’s journey through time, I felt some regret that its traditional and subtle nature, which inspired “a pleasing terror” (to quote ghost story writer, M.R. James, 1862-1936), has been lost to a pessimistic and continuously violent post WWII world, the modern appetite for speed and sensationalism, and absence of fundamental moral consideration. Contributor, Neil Wilson, admits that in order for the genre to remain vital it must continue to embrace the changes that retain its relevance to the world in which its current readers live. He also acknowledges that the need to “exceed previous levels of sensationalism” drains, depresses and certainly desensitizes perhaps more than is healthy for the genre or its followers—not so unlike what happened towards the end of its Gothic era; after all, the beginning of yet another metamorphosis.

As a writer who has just incorporated a ghostly presence into a novel’s story line, I know how difficult it is to achieve with finesse and credibility. All the more reason I found this book engrossing and important. Ms. Bennison’s obvious passion for the subject and skilled editing and compilation effortlessly achieves her aim of enticing readers into exploring the ghost story through all its stages, possibilities and impossibilities; and, most importantly, far beyond the obvious.

Ghost Writings for Kindle: massive price drop for 7 days

to celebrate new paperback version

Click here to go to Ghost Writings at amazon.uk.

Ghost Writings Back Cover

 

 Hope you will take advantage of the great deal for the next few days on the kindle version, or why not purchase the brand new paperback version!

Also, check out Bennison Book’s other publications

And now I fade into the vapors of the electronic world
(and, perhaps, more than a few centuries ago) …

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

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6 thoughts on “Review – Ghost Writings: Beyond the Obvious

  1. Your review was wonderful, as always, Diane! You continue to be extremely generous in your kind words for your fellow authors. I have to admit that the supernatural world isn’t for me. However, I’m sure this book is fascinating and I do wish much success for Deborah Bennison and Neil Wilson. Thanks for sharing! ♥ xo

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    • Thank you, Lauren! I certainly believe in spirits, psychic ‘understandings’ and past lives … experiences have and continue to keep me believing, and I may write about them more in the future. I am not particularly drawn to science fiction or very dark or violently supernatural stories, preferring the classic and subtler ghostly ones. but Deborah’s book certainly proved interesting and will have me venturing into this genre a little more. XO ❤

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  2. I’ve always loved a good ghost story. There’s something wonderful about the traditional ones that rely on (sometimes literally) spellbinding suspense and wonderfully creepy frissons of tension rather than on the buckets-o’-blood, flying guts and shock value in horror and slasher fiction. Some of the latter I’ll also admit to liking to read, because of course the gore is controlled by my inner moviemaking and not thrust upon me by cinematic force, but nothing really beats the slyly spooky stuff. 😀 Sounds like a terrific book!
    xoxo

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    • Thanks, Kathryn! I like the way this book really investigates the origins and development of the genre. I prefer the more gentle and even sensuous style of ghostly writings. And those that offer more psychological than graphic suspense. Not much for blood and gore, myself. But this book really let me know how much I didn’t know about the genre. And I love to learn and expand the possibilities for my reading and writing. I think you would enjoy this book. XO ❤

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  3. Thanks for the tip, Diane – I just put “Ghost Writings” on my Kindle. 🙂 Once, when I was a child, a ghost story well-told around the campfire at summer camp terrified me so much I couldn’t sleep for weeks! And seeing the movie “The Exorcist” when I was a teen had much the same effect. So I tend to steer clear of that genre.

    But for some reason I enjoyed “Dark Shadows” on TV when I was a teen, and more recently, the movie “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” After reading your review I am curious to learn more about this level of “pleasing terror” and at what point it might start to be considered excessive.

    I will also be very curious to see how you incorporate a ghostly presence into your novel!

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    • Hi, Barbara, and thanks for getting the book. I can imagine how hearing that ghost story when you were a child affected you so adversely. It certainly confirms that the narrator did a great job! I have never seen “The Exorcist” and don’t want to. But I love the ghostly presence in a book like ‘Wuthering Heights”. And loved the TV series “The Twilight Zone” and, also, like you, ‘Dark Shadows’ and actually own the dvd of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ – I am assuming you mean the Tim Burton version.

      I do believe in spirits, not with us so much in form but in energy and thought and emotion. I like to think they’re more of a positive than negative influence (the latter being more the fashion these days) ,,, so, I’d say that the ghostly presence in my novel is more in the old-fashioned/classic – is it or isn’t it? – style. Hope you enjoy ‘Ghost Writings’! XO ❤

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