Written by Mark Doody and Kristoffer Hughes
Published by Thoth Publications
Care to try some Nappy Patty or Kitty Litter Surprise? How about carving some “Funky Punkies””, creating shrunken heads or presenting an Ectoplasmic Extravaganza? Then look no further than Halloween: The Quintessential British Guide to Treats and Frights by Halloween lovers Mark Doody and Kristoffer Hughes.
This book, published in 2011, really covers all aspects of our favorite holiday, starting with “Diggin’ Up the Dead,” which explains the origins of Halloween; “Resurrection,” which covers the modern face of Halloween; and “A Halloween Compendium” – a smorgasbord of information including “The Day of the Dead” (“El Dia de Los Muertos”) celebrations in Mexico, Halloween recipes (some very clever… and very disgusting), drinks, décor, games, “Tales of Terror,” and Halloween trivia (did you know that the Irish Celtic Samhain means “Summer’s End” and is not the Druidic God of Death?). Halloween also features a section on how the holiday is celebrated in other parts of the world, ideas from the “old world” on how to observe Halloween (ever attended a “Dumb Supper”?,) and ancient ways of divination. The book is rounded out with a “Post Mortem” on the future of Halloween, a bibliography, a list of resources (most of them British), and interesting information on the two authors.
Mark Doody, the Englishman of the writing duo, grew up on a steady diet of horror movies courtesy of his parents as well as a yearning to carve a real pumpkin instead of the turnip his parents presented to him every Halloween. Kristoffer Hughes, the Welshman, grew up celebrating both the traditions of the Celtic Samhain as well as Halloween and also had turnip instead of pumpkin issues. When these two met and discovered they both had a lifelong obsession with Halloween, Halloween: The Quintessential British Guide to Treats and Frights was the result.
Despite the usual typos one associates with small press publications, this book is put together in a very accessible way and is full of color photographs of the crafts and the recipes the authors have come up with. I particularly like the Halloween Scarecrow (MUCH creepier than anything I’ve ever seen for sale), the shrunken heads (who would have thought the lowly beetroot could achieve such gruesomeness), and the photos of the “delectable dishes” in the Graveyard Grub section, especially the previously mentioned Nappy Patty and Kitty Litter Surprise (both must be seen to be believed!).
The authors have obviously put a lot of work and personal passion in the book, and it shows in all of the wonderful information they have gathered. There is talk that a second volume, possibly subtitled Twilight Edition and full of ideas for those of us on a budget, is in the works with a predicted publication date in 2013. But don’t wait for that! There are so many wonderful ideas in this book that your Halloween should be even better this year.
4 out of 5