Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction


Goodreads Review: Demonic Dolls

Demonic Dolls: True Tales of Terrible ToysDemonic Dolls: True Tales of Terrible Toys by John Harker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun and fascinating.

We’ve all heard tales of haunted dolls, regardless of our positions on the scale of skepticism. Collected here are a pile of those stories, from well-known miniature miscreants such as Robert and Annabelle, to internet mainstays like Harold the Haunted Doll, and numerous lesser known dolls with… Ahem… Questionable habits and provenances.

Regardless of your belief standpoint, each article is interesting and well written, and some of them – Claire and Peggy come immediately to mind – are incredibly disturbing. The last section and it’s warning of “caveat emptor” as regards deliberate purchase of “haunted” objects is perhaps a much needed warning, whether you take it to avoid being scammed or because you don’t really want that lovely Eeyore plush choking you to death one night.

All in all, a fun read and had some cases and information I hadn’t seen elsewhere before, so worth checking out if this is your sort of thing.

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Goodreads Review: Harold the Haunted Doll

Harold the Haunted Doll: The Terrifying, True Story of the World's Most Sinister DollHarold the Haunted Doll: The Terrifying, True Story of the World’s Most Sinister Doll by Anthony Quinata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much better than expected.

I came across this book while browsing ghost hunting blogs online. It took me some time to “pull the trigger” as it were and actually check it out, but I am glad I did.

First off, I will say that I’m not going to take a stance on whether I believe the book to be factual or not. It seems plausible, assuming you’re the sort who believes in this sort of thing, but much of the second half seems to borrow heavily from the presentation tactics of The Amityville Horror, which has me wary. The jury’s out in my head, but if you’re looking for something that is 100% one way or the other, you won’t find it here.

The writing is clear enough and technically sound for the most part; there may be an overabundance of quotation marks in places italics or dashes would have been better choices, but not too jarring. The layout is nice, the pictures are crisp. Overall, a very nice looking book, which is always a bonus in my opinion.

So far as content, it’s an interesting story and reasonably well presented. My one gripe in this department – which can’t really be counted as one, if you believe the story to be true – is that at the halfway mark, most of the “investigative” bits disappear and it becomes an ongoing docudrama told mostly in Facebook messages. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, except that it differs significantly from the first half, and there are multiple references to “things” happening at home that are never really addressed or discussed, behind in the background in favor of the ongoing Messenger-related saga of “Vincent” and his mum. Were there more references or explanation of what was happening to the author and how those events might tie to the overall situation, I suspect this rating could easily have gone up to 4 stars.

One thing I appreciated was the cries of “B.S.” regarding the original poster’s description of Harold the Haunted Doll; in particular, pointing out the stupidity of the FBI having X-Rays (taken from photographs…) that prove there’s a dead baby inside the doll amused me. Whether a tactic to increase believability later or merely another page in a well-contemplated narrative, the early debunking works and sets your brain up to think “Well, he said THIS was most assuredly NOT true, so maybe that means this part COULD be…” It works well.

Lastly, I have to say: I’m well steeped in horror of all kinds. Most of it doesn’t bother me. Not even a twitch or a shudder. During the initial chapters of this book, however, I was severely freaked out. I couldn’t point to any single thing and say “This is why!” The whole tale just bothered me, leading to a coffee overdose and cartoon therapy. That dread and worry fades entering into the second half, but the ghost – pardon the pun – of the feeling lingered over the rest of the book.

All in all, I’d say it’s worth checking out. The only things missing for a higher rating would have been fewer “I knew something about this but I’m not going to tell you” moments and perhaps something to break up the Facebook monotony in the second half. A well done effort overall, though.

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Review: Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity

Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity
Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity by Elaine Pagels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As anyone with any knowledge of me is aware, I love Judas lore and anything that casts doubt on the image of happy-shiny-always-friendly religion, so my opinion on this particular book may be a bit biased, but I’ll try my best to keep my fanboyism in check.

So, what is it? Well, the core of it is a (reasonably, given what’s available, at least) complete translation of the Gospel of Judas, that lovely bit of apocrypha that has been called Gnostic, heretical, insane, stupid or redemptive at assorted points in its life. The text itself is interesting, if only because it at least makes a token attempt at addressing the issue of Judas’ predestination to betray Jesus and whether that flags him as evil incarnate or the leading member of the Snape is Loyal club. Worthwhile, but not exactly new.

What is unique to this iteration is King and Pagels’ discussion on the fractured nature of early Christianity, the focus that the faith had on martyrdom – and the dissenting opinion that maybe dying like Jesus wasn’t such a hot ticket after all – and how apocryphal texts like the Gospel of Judas present alternative meaning to the death of Christ and the ever present question of “what does it all mean!?”

Thankfully the work does so without drowning you in the writers’ particular religious beliefs; things are presented logically – even somewhat coldly – and with suitable references that never fall back on “because God said so,” which is always a bonus.

Overall, I’d recommend it to anyone who has a desire to hear a bit more about religion, especially from a point of view outside of the party line, or who is into the apocryphal material but somehow doesn’t already have a copy of the Gospel itself. Or for crazy people such as myself who insist on attempting to write fiction with Judas as the hero.

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