"We're All Mad Here…."
I shall begin this review with a confession; I’d seen this book around for a long time before I actually read it and then it was a case of ‘Oh well – I’ll give it a go’ because it was in a bargain bookstore for a quid. I’d looked at the blurb before but I will admit that I was put off by Will Storr being known as a ‘Lad’s Mag’ writer and was not expecting anything beyond that standard of journalism. How wrong I was.
Storr has managed to put together the most candid and earnest account of Supernatural exploration that I have ever read. Approaching the subject as an interested and eager-to-learn novice, he takes the reader on an engaging personal journey driven by his own desire to ‘know’. Along the way he meets a variety of folk engaged in aspects of the Paranormal. To each one, he is respectful and non-judgmental, allowing them time to present their case and asking relevant questions before considering the validity of what he has experienced.
My main criticism is that he sometimes lets his interviewees off the hook by failing to ask questions and probe a little deeper into their clearly dubious pronouncements.
One place where he does step up to the mark however, is his account of joining ‘Most Haunted’ on one of their shows. Storr tells it how it is and this is the one account of Most Haunted that everybody should read. It exposes the show for what it is – cheap entertainment – and cheap in every sense of the word. Every pre-arranged ‘event’, unconvincing spectacle and trick of editing is presented. Storr seems somewhat disappointed with what he finds but I for one was punching the air and yelling “YES!” as I read.
Although keeping a very clear head on Most Haunted, I do feel that Storr may have been the victim of some less-than-honest accounts and downright trickery in some cases. He writes a genuinely frightening account of one stay in an unnamed haunted residence and I would not fancy his experience one bit. However, alarm bells were ringing and the ‘too good to be true’ meter was at maximum and I felt that he was more the victim of a well-executed practical joke than any paranormal event. Indeed, it did not take very much thought to lay out how I would achieve the same effect (using nothing more than hidden speakers and pre-recorded sounds).
Overall, I found this a compelling book. Extremely well written, funny, disturbing, always sincere and hard to put down (work in the morning; just one more chapter, then I’ll call it a night…). Storr has produced what I feel is a very important text for those interested in the paranormal and one that respects the reader enough to let them draw their own conclusions. I actually felt quite guilty that I had picked up this book for a pound and have purchased a Kindle edition as well as his new book ‘Heretics’ to try to atone for my sins.
By the end of the book, Storr reaches his own point of belief and seems humbled by the experience. Whereas, I was not convinced to the same extent as he was, I could only respect the earnest, good-humoured and open approach he took to get there.
Review by: Steven Markham