Book Review of Shadows: The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives Edited by Judika Illes


9781578636242The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives: 13 Stories of Supernatural Sleuthing is a compilation of vintage occult detective stories, written by masters of the genre including Arthur Conan Doyle, Algernon Blackwood, Dion Fortune, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and Helena Blavatsky. Occult detectives explore paranormal mysteries or use their own supernatural gifts to solve crimes. The book features the original authors and stories that inspired what is now a bestsellilng genre in movies, TV, books, and video games.
The stories in The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives star both female and male sleuths. The mysteries they tackle include murder, missing funds, demons, ghosts, vampires, and more. Among the ranks of occult detectives featured in this book are beloved favorites such as Dr. Hesselius, Dr. Taverner, Thomas Carnacki, and John Silence but also the unjustly forgotten and obscure sleuths Shiela Crerar and Diana Marburg. Techniques utilized by the various detectives include palmistry, clairvoyance, psychometry, mesmerism, dreams, and good old deductive reasoning. The book is edited and introduced by leading occult author and scholar Judika Illes. – Weiser Books

I hate to admit it, but I almost didn’t get this book. I was immediately interested, but didn’t really think it would fit in on the blog. Of course, I eventually realized it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want! So here we are, and I’m absolutely geeked about it. Reading non-fiction and self-help type books can get a bit intense sometimes, and there’s nothing like good fiction to cleanse the literary palette, and this is good fiction. Add in the fact that Halloween was approaching and the stories in the book are undeniably creepy, and this book shot to the top of my favourites list!

First, though the book isn’t written by Judika Illes, her foreword of the book, and intro to every single story, are full of her trademark wit and attention to detail. Judika has a great talent for finding and writing some of the most interesting witch books I’ve ever read. The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 spells is full of things I’d never use, but I couldn’t put the giant tome down. It was so interesting and so so witchy. (CAN YOU TELL I LOVE HER?) The same was true for this book, and since all of the stories were written before even my parents were born, it also helped get me into the right frame of mind to absorb it.

All of the stories featured were written between 1855 and 1922, and capture the Victorian flair of group seances, dark alleys where evil lurks, and the incredible power of the human mind. Even if you’re not a fan of older fiction, the stories in the book are captivating, brilliant, and creepy. Some will make you laugh, some will make you gasp, one even made me gag a little. If you’re one to pull out your fave collection of Edgar Allen Poe every october, you’ll find something to love in this book.

As a bonus the authors featured are both men and women, and as such so are the characters, which was probably one of my favourite things about this book.

Each story is introduced by Judika with facts about the occult and spiritual proclivities of the authors, and weaves together a history of occultism and spiritualism during the time. Witches and psychics will be thrilled to see a story by Helena Blavatsky, the creator of the Theosophical society and world famous spiritualist! There’s also The Leather Funnel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (YES! of Sherlock Holmes fame!) which, despite being fiction, does follow the true account of Marie-Madeleine-Marguerite D’Aubray who was charged with murder and witchcraft in 1676, which set off a number of witch trials in france.

Which of course means I was wrong! Not only did I have a lot of fun flipping through and reading these stories before bedtime, some aloud to a couple of ferrets who LOVED it btw, but I learned a little more about Victorian spiritualism and as such some of the history of modern magick and spirituality.

I highly recommend the book to everyone and will even be getting a copy for my mother for Christmas. I loved the historical facts and tidbits about each story almost as much as I loved the stories themselves, which are from a time we still generally find creepy and mysterious. This book will transport you to a seance in an elegant salon, maybe with Sherlock Holmes himself, or perhaps in the white house or Lincoln bedroom! It’s perfect for Halloween, spooky rainy nights, or to prime yourself for the newest season of the X-Files (I’m only sort of kidding.).



(Also, I absolutely LOVE the cover!)


Ever wondered what my crystal ball rating system actually means?

The Fat Feminist Witch Rating System:

๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ- I literally cannot live without it now
๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ โ€“ YASS
๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ โ€“ Itโ€™s good, but itโ€™s not for me
๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ”ฎ โ€“ Nah
๐Ÿ”ฎ โ€“ Iโ€™m literally angry this even exists


4 thoughts on “Book Review of Shadows: The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives Edited by Judika Illes

  1. Pingback: A Very Fat Feminist Halloween Special! Vol. 2 – The Fat Feminist Witch
  2. Pingback: #HowRealWitchesDo: Witchcraft Without a Filter – The Fat Feminist Witch
  3. Pingback: Book Review of Shadows: The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes – The Fat Feminist Witch

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