Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Halloween by David J. Skal

Halloween: The History of America's Darkest Holiday by David J. Skal is an interesting nonfiction account of the history of Halloween. It is a re-release. It was out of print for about 10 years before being released in this edition.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Acclaimed cultural critic David J. Skal explores one of America's most perplexingly popular holidays in this original mix of personal anecdotes and social analysis. Skal traces Halloween's evolution from its dark Celtic history and quaint, small-scale celebrations to its emergence as a mammoth seasonal marketing event.
Skal takes readers on a cross-country survey that covers remarkably divergent perspectives, from the merchants who welcome a money-making opportunity that's second only to Christmas to fundamentalists who decry Halloween a form of blasphemy and practicing witches who embrace it as a holy day. He also profiles individuals who revel in this once-a-year occasion to participate in elaborate fantasies. Their narratives, combined with the author's cultural analysis, offer a revealing look at an intriguing aspect of our national psyche.

My thoughts on this book:"You can't kill the bogeyman. But does anyone really want to?" (Halloween: Homecoming film) By the end of the book, it seems that this is precisely what many people are seeking to do in the guise of political correctness or religion.

I found parts of the book to be very interesting. In other parts, it seemed to drag a little. I found myself skipping parts of some sections like in the one about the gay Halloween parades in New York City. And sadly, I found myself skimming a little even in the sections I really liked, for example: the one about haunted houses, and the one about movies. I was glad that the author pointed out more than once that Halloween had nothing to do with Satanism. And that he got the cultural origins of the holiday right.

Generally speaking, I really enjoy books about Halloween. This one, not so much. It was still a good book overall. It just wasn't a great one. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.