"The Halloween Encyclopedia: Second Edition" Book Review

Written by R.J. MacReady

Published by McFarland

Written by Lisa Morton
2011, 263 pages, Reference
Released on April 27th, 2011


In 2003, Lisa Morton published the first version of The Halloween Encyclopedia, but as the preface in this new edition states, the holiday has gone through many changes. From the proliferation of haunted-house attractions and "agri-tainment" like haunted hay-rides and cornfield mazes, to the changes in what we know about the history of Halloween, the encyclopedia was due for an update.

Featuring the original preface as well as a new one by the author, this book is exactly what it purports to be: An encyclopedia. Beginning with the letter A, we're treated to a comprehensive look at nearly everything even slightly tangential to the holiday. Starting with acorns and ending with zoos, the reader will be overwhelmed with interesting facts and stories about Halloween.

You might not think you'd be able to pick up an encyclopedia and read it front to back like a regular book, but any fan of Halloween may do just that. While some of the history-oriented entries like "All Souls Day" come off a bit dry and belabored, other entries reveal interesting factoids, like "Halloween is to gays what St. Patrick's Day is to the Irish", or Jack Frost isn't just a winter character; he's featured in Halloween plays and recitations from the early twentieth century. Other perks are discovering things you didn't even know existed – like the Halloween Crab and Hallowmas – and discovering things that you never knew had connections to the holiday, like fireworks, peas, postcards and more. Even subjects that are closely associated to the holiday – like scarecrows, spiders, Mischief Night, ghosts and more – tend to give new perspectives that the reader may not have known about.

The end of the book features two appendixes. Appendix one features a chronology of Halloween, and is about three pages long. It's a basic timeline of important events, and as such, is only interesting if you're writing a paper for class. Appendix two is more interesting, and covers Halloween in Literature and The Arts. It's around twelve pages, and features information about books, comics, movies and television. I'd probably read an entire book about this stuff, so this appendix is a winner.

But now that I've talked about the virtues of the book, I have to address the elephant in the room: The price. This book retails for $75, according to the publisher. For that price you'd expect a large book, possibly hardcover, with full-color illustrations. You get none of that here. This is slightly-smaller-than-magazine size with a softcover. All of the illustrations and photos are black and white, though they are of high quality.

Any way you slice it, The Halloween Encyclopedia features a cornucopia of information about the holiday, and fans of Halloween will find a treasure trove to mine that will take some time to get through. I highly recommend it if you can find it for a good price [currently $9.99 for the Kindle - Ed.].


Overall: 4 Star Rating Cover
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R.J. MacReady
Staff Reviewer
RJ MacReady digs horror movies, even though his first memory of horror films is watching the first Friday the 13th movie while a bear mauled his family in the other room. He admits that most of his bio is as fake as his moniker, but witness protection won't let him use his real name.
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