The story of Pittsburgh is one of love and hard work, and that certainly extends to the craftspeople and creatives who call this city home. One of these is Vince Curtis, a designer-craftsperson who creates gorgeous journals under his business Vers Libris. His creations range from customary lined journals covered with whimsically patterned fabrics, to leatherbound journals with gilding reminiscent of something you’d find in a loved one’s library. (For those interested in tarot, Vince also makes clamshell boxes that can help protect your divination tools.)
You know that saying: if you want to hear a joke, tell life your plans? Well, the same goes for writing content for side projects, apparently.
This is the time of year when I take a hard look at what I’m doing with The Book Haunt, promptly make excessive plans, and then just as quickly get spectacularly derailed. In August 2017, I had plans for creating a whole folklore/occult arm for this site. While I still would love to do that, I have to examine what my schedule allows for; this has led me to question what I want—and what I hope readers will get—out of this site.
We are all well acquainted with spirits—spirits of the past, spirits of what could have been, spirits of place. Home, where we put down roots and began to bloom. The road, flowing like thought and blood and memory. And so many other, far stranger vistas that are the framework for our development and identity.
Spirits of Place, edited by John Reppion, is an anthology that uses story, history, and personal connection, all mixed in with elements of the occult and philosophy, in an attempt to define our relationship with place, and how what has gone before influences the present and the future. Continue reading
When I was younger, medical history was not my forte. But as the years have ticked on and my own health concerns loom on the horizon, I’ve found myself wondering about how the current state of medicine came to be. Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything was my first earnest, prolonged trip into medical history, and I was more than pleasantly surprised at its casual language and engaging narrative. There were some elements that left something to be desired, however.
Authored by Lydia Kang MD and Nate Pedersen, Quackery takes a segmented, structured approach to discussing the various methods and madness humans have labeled “medicine” throughout history. Continue reading
Sometimes, we don’t get to say goodbye. Sometimes, their writing is all we have left.
It began with an email I received early last week, warning me that Figment, a website where I’d uploaded writing in my undergrad years, was shifting gears and rebranding. All users had until January 31 to back up their data.
Like many of those who read The Book Haunt, my mythological background is Greco-Roman and Norse. Andrew Paciorek’s Black Earth: A Field Guide to the Slavic Otherworld was a venture into the unknown for me; a journey into a mythology and a worldview that was both alien and familiar.
First, I have to give credit where it’s due.
Paciorek’s descriptions and explanations of each of the gods made them relatable for someone brand new to Slavic mythology. There are at least a handful of parallels between Slavic and other European mythologies that the author made sure to note, but this commentary was grounded in well-researched reality.
How do I bring The Book Haunt back from the dead?
A lot has changed since my last post—mostly my career. Free time has become harder to find, and is more precious than anything once I stumble upon it. But with the onset of fall, the little voice of resurrecting this little spooky book hub whispers incessantly.
Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve been surprised time and again. But what I have not been surprised by—and have come to cherish most about this city—is the thriving occult
and new age communities. Back in January—on a Friday the 13th, no less—I went voyaging into the city with Megan, podcast co-host and fellow lover of the occult. What we found was Arts & Crafts: Botancia & Occult Shop.
The unfortunate norm for pagan/occult stores seems to be a dimly lit, crowded space. When we encountered Arts & Crafts, however, we immediately saw that this business was anything but the norm: well-lit, spacious, welcoming, and with a killer collection of tapestries, ritual tools/items, and scented goods to boot. For the witch in 2017, Arts and Crafts is a must-visit. Continue reading
If you recall, dear readers, I did a review of Wicked Witches back in December. Shortly after posting the review, I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk with anthology editors Scott Goudsward and Daniel Keohane about the challenges of putting together a book with so many moving parts.
- What initially inspired the creation of the NEHWP (New England Horror Writers Press) and the original writers’ group?
Scott Goudsward: The NEHW was originally a regional chapter of the HWA (Horror Writers Association). We formed up in 2001 and when the HWA decided they didn’t want regional chapters, we struck out and didn’t dissolve like some of the other chapters.
Not many are familiar with the Weird West genre, and for good reason. The popularity of Westerns in modern mass media fluctuates wildly from year to year. And usually, when you think of Westerns, you most likely think of cowboys and conflict with Native American peoples. Weird West takes the tropes of the Western, but adds in elements of fantasy: such as orcs, elves, and demonic possession.
Enter A Demon in the Desert by Ashe Armstrong.
The town of Greenreach Bluffs is under siege by something straight from a nightmare. Grimluk, an orc demon-hunter, takes on the case. But what has brought this plague of evil—of demonic activity—upon Greenreach Bluffs? The answer is not what you’d expect.