If I see a Peter Ackroyd book, I’ll generally pick it up. This historian (I’ve recently heard that he’s a novelist too) has a nice, anecdotal but informative writing style, and researches his books thoroughly. They are often very long, so when this one arrived, I was surprised that it’s about the length of a normal paperback.
The book starts out by pointing out that England is the most haunted country in the world, and our fascination with ghosts and stories of hauntings has only increased with time. I was amused to find out that prior to the Roman invasion, ghosts and like phenomena was not prescribed to the souls of the deceased, but to local spirits, like fairy or goblins.
Like all Ackroyd’s books, this one is thoroughly researched, being a litany of anecdotal evidence of hauntings and spectra from written sources from throughout England’s history. It’s thoroughly amusing, creepy and fascinating, but perhaps suffers from being a collection in themed sections, rather than… I don’t know what. A narrative or history perhaps. It feels a bit like a short encyclopedia.
However, it’s very fun to read, and Ackroyd has curated it very well. I must admit to getting chills reading it in bed on the recent rainy evenings when my boyfriend was already asleep. A good read for ghost fans.
Read It If: you love a good ghost story, because this has loads of them from through out English history.