Supernatural Seduction

David Jaher The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World. Crown Publishing Group. October 2015

The 1920s are famous as the golden age of jazz and glamour, but it was also an era of fevered yearning for communion with the spirit world, after the loss of tens of millions in the First World War and the Spanish-flu epidemic. A desperate search for reunion with dead loved ones precipitated a tidal wave of self-proclaimed psychics—and, as reputable media sought stories on occult phenomena, mediums became celebrities.

Against this backdrop, in 1924, the pretty wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon came to embody the raging national debate over Spiritualism, a movement devoted to communication with the dead. Reporters dubbed her the blonde Witch of Lime Street, but she was known to her followers simply as Margery. Her most vocal advocate was none other than Sherlock Holmes' creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who believed so thoroughly in Margery's powers that he urged her to enter a controversial contest, sponsored by Scientific American and offering a large cash prize to the first medium declared authentic by its impressive five-man investigative committee. Admired for both her exceptional charm and her dazzling effects, Margery was the best hope for the psychic practice to be empirically verified. Her supernatural gifts beguiled four of the judges. There was only one left to convince...the acclaimed escape artist, Harry Houdini.


Examining the Monster Hunters

A book which seems to take a Magonian perspective on the Monster.

Gareth Williams. A Monstrous Commotion: The Mysteries of Loch Ness. Orion (12 Nov. 2015)

From the publisher's website: The Loch Ness Monster: a creature that should have died out with the dinosaurs, or a legend built on hoaxes and wishful thinking? Sir Peter Scott, internationally renowned naturalist and president of the World Wildlife Fund, was convinced that the Monster existed. So were senior scientists at London's Natural History Museum and Chicago University; they lost their jobs because they refused to renounce their belief in the creature. For decades, the scientific establishment was determined to quash attempts to investigate Loch Ness - until Nature, the world's greatest research journal, published an article by Peter Scott featuring underwater photographs of the Monster. 

Drawing extensively on new material, Gareth Williams takes a wholly original look at what really happened in Loch Ness. A Monstrous Commotion tells the story as never before: a gripping saga populated by colourful characters who do extraordinary things in pursuit of one of evolution's wildest cards.This book delves deep into the depths of the Loch Ness phenomenon, one of the iconic scientific mysteries of the last hundred years. The legend of the 'water horse' in Loch Ness and other Scottish lakes is ancient, but reports of the monster date from as recently as the 1930s, courtesy of a correspondent of the Inverness Courier. 

Rather than debating the arguably unfathomable realities of what lies beneath these murky Scottish waters, Professor Gareth Williams instead engages with the people who have dedicated themselves to unearthing the truth of the monster's existence. He explores just what it is that drives these people to the point of obsession, and the ways in which their own quests have changed their lives, and the lives of others.With the use of interviews and never-before-seen archives, Williams creates a gripping narrative about the diverse people and stories behind the phenomenon. In his journey to discover the allurement of Nessie, he unravels a compelling tale of human eccentricity, full of twists, turns and entertaining surprises.


Atlas Cursed

Olivier Le Carrer. Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations. Black Dog & Leventhal (12 Nov. 2015)

From the publisher's website: This alluring read includes 40 locations that are rife with disaster, chaos, paranormal activity, and death. The locations gathered here include the dangerous Strait of Messina, home of the mythical sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis; the coal town of Jharia, where the ground burns constantly with fire; Kasanka National Park in Zambia, where 8 million migrating bats darken the skies; the Nevada Triangle in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where hundreds of aircraft have disappeared; and Aokigahara Forest near Mount Fuji in Japan, the world's second most popular suicide location following the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Inside, 70 vintage maps detail every cursed place in the book, making this a perfect read for the map lover, travel or history buff, and fans of the paranormal.


From the Land of Ice and Fire

Erlendur Haraldsson and Loftur Gissurarson. Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium. White Crow Books. (October 2015)

The mediumship of Indridi Indridason (1883-1912) was investigated and tested extensively by members of the Experimental Society in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Remarkable psychokinetic and mediumistic phenomena are described in detail in contemporary reports, from the beginning of Indridi’s mediumship in 1905 to its end in June 1909.

The authors´ preoccupation with Indridi Indridason spans several decades. Erlendur Haraldsson first read about him in the 1960s, perhaps earlier. He joined the Psychology department at the University of Iceland in 1973 and, during his course on paranormal phenomena, he would regularly discuss Indridason, Iceland’s most prolific physical medium. Loftur Reimar Gissurarson, one of Haraldsson’s students, soon became interested and wrote his BA thesis on Indridason.


Rochdale Rappings

Steve Mera is a long-serving paranormal researcher in the North-West of England and will be familiar to many Magonia readers. He revived the old MAPIT group in Manchester and helped form the Merseyside group MARA (Merseyside Anomalies Research Association)

Jenny Ashford and Steve Mera. The Rochdale Poltergeist: A True Story. CreateSpace, (October 26 2015)

“Up to that point, I was quite happy to be interested in the paranormal because I really hadn’t experienced much. Until I did. And then I was thinking, ‘Oh God, do I really want to continue with this?’” - Steve Mera BSc., Director of the Scientific Establishment of Parapsychology.

Steve Mera had been investigating paranormal phenomena for many years, and had never seen anything that shook him to his very foundations. All that changed in 1996, when he was called in with his team to look into the bizarre occurrences taking place at a small bungalow in Rochdale, Manchester, England. Flying objects, disembodied voices, phantom smells and sounds, and strangest of all, copious falls of water seemingly coming from nowhere plagued the Gardner family for nearly a year. 

What Steve experienced during the investigation was enough to make him question his entire career path, and remains one of only a handful of cases that he is completely unable to rationally explain. This account, written by horror author Jenny Ashford from interviews conducted with Steve about the case, is a bone-chilling foray into the paranormal that will make even the most ardent skeptic sleep with the lights on.


I'm from the Government and I'm here to mislead you.

One of America's more rational UFO researchers summarises the US government's involvement in the UFO enigma, but does he take any notice of the rest of the world?

Kevin Randle. The UFO Dossier: 100 Years for Government Secrets, Conspiracies and Cover Ups. Visible Ink Press (13 Oct. 2015)

Does the U.S. government know more about UFO and alien life than it admits? Are eyewitnesses telling the truth? What does the historical record say? Former intelligence officer and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel Kevin Randle takes an objective look at evidence for alien life and UFOs and presents his findings in The UFO Dossier: 100 Years of Government Secrets, Conspiracies and Cover Ups. 

The author reviews the documents, scours government databases, and interviews witnesses, unearthing details on UFOs, mysterious crashes, sightings, encounters, and related phenomena.The UFO Dossier presents plots, cover-ups, misleading statements, and documented connections to government intrigue—as well as hoaxes and problematic authentications. 

Following leads and digging into the files of the CIA, the FBI, the FAA, NASA, the Army, Navy, Air Force, and other U.S. government and international agencies, Randle lets the facts guide him. From a short history of UFO projects and the Condon Committee to the complete COMETA report and UFOs in the 21st century, investigations include:

• Asteroids, meteors and UFOs (Tunguska, Battle of LA, Whitted Sighting,)

• Photographs (McMinnville, Tremonton UFO Movie, Bear Mt. St. Park,)
• Injuries by UFOs (Fort Itaipu; Cedar City, Utah; Leominster, MA.)
• Lights in the Night Sky (Lubbock Lights, Belgium Triangle, New Jersey Lights.)
• Scientists and UFOs (Agoura, CA; Artesia, NM; University of Brazil.)


Haunted History

Lisa Morton. Ghosts: A Haunted History. Reaktion Books. (September)

From the publisher's website: In the supernatural history of the world there are few things more common than the belief in ghosts. From the earliest recorded writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh to twenty-first-century ghost-hunting TV shows, ghosts have been part of almost every time and every culture ...and yet there's very little evidence to support their existence. Ghosts: A Supernatural History is a historical and global exploration of these mysterious apparitions. It asks: What exactly is a ghost? Are poltergeists, wraiths and revenants technically ghosts? How does 'ghost' relate to 'soul'? And how many different kinds of ghost are there? It visits the spirits of the classical world, including the Egyptian five-part soul and the first haunted-house comedy play, Mostellaria by Plautus (254-184 BCE). 

We encounter the frightening phantoms of the Middle Ages - which might incinerate priests or devour children - and the nineteenth-century rise of Spiritualism - essentially a religion devoted to ghosts. Ghosts are everywhere: from India's bhuta to the Hungry Ghost Festival in China and Mexico's La Llorona legend, as well as the Bell Witch of the American South and 'the most haunted house in England', Borley Rectory. Ghosts also delves into the history of the spirit on page and screen. How did Horace Walpole's pioneering Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto of 1764 lead to the 2007 hit film Paranormal Activity? Classic ghost tales, from Ann Radcliffe's works to the chilling short stories of M. R. James and Stephen King's The Shining, reveal how the real meaning of ghosts has shifted over the centuries. Wide-ranging, informative and featuring 60 chilling, unearthly images, this book will appeal to the very wide audience for the supernatural.