Book Review: Cassandra’s Field Guide to Ghostly Encounters by Cassandra O’Shaughnessy and Jalynn Venis

Hi all!

Ghosts. Whether you believe in them or not, their existence is being proven and disproven nearly every day on television these days. Popular shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures send out teams of experts to investigate claims of hauntings at various sites and attempt to gain evidence.

Regardless of whether they exist, ghosts are and have been a hot topic for quite some time. Author Jalynn Venis has joined the fray with her latest book Cassandra’s Field Guide to Ghostly Encounters. Cassandra O’Shaughnessy offers a friendly and knowledgeable persona through which readers can explore these strange phenomena. In this 57 page eBook, Cassandra shines some light and educates the reader in the ways they can not only wrap their heads around but appreciate and cultivate a relationship with or banish all together.

To start, Cassandra defines what ghosts are – “simply non-physical beings.” These beings have not been able to make the transition to the next life, held back by a fear of the unknown. Instead, these spirits hang around in our world because that’s easier than a leap of faith.

She then begins to examine how the living come to interact with the dead. Ghosts evidently take notice when we somehow notice them. It’s the classic temperature drop when a ghostly presence is in the room or simply the slight perception that you’re not alone. Cassandra says these feelings happen when the energy field of the living comes into contact with the energy field of the dead. This happens more frequently for some people than others evidently as some folks are more in tune with their senses or more intuitive in their grasp of their surroundings.

Cassandra goes on to talk about the various forms and behaviors ghosts take. Typically it’s the little things that are easiest for them, from opening and closing doors or making footsteps echo in an empty hallway. And “the stronger the spirit, the more impressive the manifestation.” Some may even be able to manifest a full visage so you could see minute details.

Through the next few chapters, we learn about why certain places are haunted. Typically the nicer the place, the less the ghosts really want to leave! Or sometimes, lonely spirits may gather in social places once filled with life. And other times, perhaps the ghosts are bound to the place where they lost their lives or watched loved ones pass on…

Ultimately the book offers some interesting and practical suggestions on how to find, interact with, and live with ghosts, friendly or un-. Spirits were people too, and typically either want to communicate in some way or simply be left alone. With a little time, observation, and research, you can usually investigate the history of a place and learn more about the spirits themselves.

The tone of the book is one of a pleasant conversation or lecture from someone knowledgeable in the field. Cassandra comes across as a person deeply experienced with spiritual matters and shares that experience freely. I also really appreciated the photographs included in the book demonstrating various manifestations captured on film.

Cassandra’s Field Guide to Ghostly Encounters offers an entertaining glimpse into the supernatural world. If you like reading about ghosts, I’d definitely check it ou. Perhaps you might be the first person to get detailed knowledge of what it’s like after death if you can chat with the dead!

To buy the book in PDF form or learn more about Cassandra O’Shaugnessy and author Jalynn Venis, be sure to check out CassandraO.net. The book is also available at Amazon.com for the Kindle and at Barnes & Noble on the Nook.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Here’s the link to the Kindle version:

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Book Review: Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter — Demon’s Night by Guido Henkel

Hi all!

Have you ever heard of a “dime novel“? How about a “penny dreadful”? These were short books of pulp fiction popular in the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States and Britain. Each small booklet had a story or part of a series that was inexpensive, costing much less (5 or 10 cents) than a full sized book did during the same time period. Many of these during the 19th century focused on the “wild west” and the exploits of sensational characters such as Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley.

Well, evidently they’re making a comeback! Starting in January 2010, a new series written by Guido Henkel merges the feel of Sherlock Holmes tales with the monster-hunting mentality of TV’s Supernatural. Set on the streets of Victorian England, it seems London is in need of a hero and “Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter” is there to fill the bill.

Demon’s Night is the first in the series, introducing our brave hero. Dark comes from a long line of ghost hunters and he is the “Geisterjäger” of his generation. Armed with a magical sword, Dark hunts for the things in the dark preying on his fellow man. And in this adventure, we find him following the trail of a number of bizarre deaths along the waterfront… each victim somehow drained of bodily fluids and left looking like a mummified corpse.

Along the way, he saves the life of Siu Lin, the daughter of Chinese immigrants who are tragically killed by a demonic entity. Dark and Lin stalk the streets and graveyards of London seeking clues as to the creature’s origins and looking for a way to stop it’s reign of terror…

The book itself is 62 pages and a saddle-stitch binding, basically a stack of 31 8.5″ x 11″ pages folded in half length-wise. It feels much like a small magazine, making it easy to slip in a briefcase or purse to take along for light reading.

It honestly took me a little while to get into the groove as I was reading Demon’s Night. The style aims to be like that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a deep feel for the streets, attitudes, and locations of Victorian England. And occasional grammar or spelling gaffes may have been intentional to keep with the writing of that era. But each time I found one (there are a few), it yanked me out of the story and I had to fight to get back into it again. (Update: Heard from Henkel that the spelling issues have been resolved in later copies of the book.)

That said, I felt it really hit a stride about halfway through after Dark and Siu Lin start working together. The camaraderie helped the story, setting, and characters gel more the further I went. It definitely hit me as a fun pulp fiction style adventure that has many avenues to explore in the “monster hunter” realm.

If you’re looking for a quick story in the vein of a lighter Sherlock Holmes-style adventure, I’d recommend you pick up Henkel’s Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter — Demon’s Night. It’s available in hardcopy for a small fee, and on Amazon for the Kindle, but you can find it online at JasonDark.com for free. I have the next story – Theater of Vampires – waiting here to read and will be interested to see where Jason Dark goes next!

This review first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out JasonDark.com for more details or get the hardcopy version from Barnes & Noble below!

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