All October posts are part of the Countdown to Halloween!
Who wrote the book on Halloween? Well, when you’re talking about a holiday that has become a hodge podge of multiple cultures’ celebration of the end of summer, harvest or honoring of their dead, it’s hard to say.
But if you’re looking for a book detailing the history of Halloween, there is nothing better than the original: “The Book of Hallowe’en” by Ruth Edna Kelley.
Published in 1919, “The Book of Hallowe’en” was the first of its kind. When it was released, no other tome had delved as deeply into the history and traditions of the holiday or addressed Halloween in such a scholarly way. According to my friends over at boroughsofthedead.com, it would take at least 70 years (or until the early 1990s) for someone to write a book that could be considered on par with Kelley’s work.
Which makes it THE definitive source on Halloween in my book.
As a bibliophile in my spare time, I’ve fallen down the Amazon rabbit hole of Halloween reads before. It was on Pinterest, however, where this first edition cover caught my eye, and I thought, “I’ve GOT to own that!”
Unfortunately for me, these first editions go for well over $1,000. I didn’t think I’d ever get my hands on this text.
Then Oliver Vale emailed me.
He recently recorded and published an audiobook version of “The Book of Hallowe’en” and asked if I would be interested in checking it out.
“Um, ABSOLUTELY!” I wrote back.
If you love Halloween and its history, you need to go grab this audiobook right now.
“The Book of Hallowe’en” Review:
Oliver’s reading of “The Book of Hallowe’en” is exactly what I needed because at nearly 100 years old simply reading this text on my own would have, quite frankly, bored even this English major to tears. If I hadn’t had an audiobook version, I would have given up.
The first few chapters of the book are dense and full of historical information that prime the landscape for Halloween traditions – the piece that interests me the most – that come later on.
But this information is SO valuable. From sun worshiping to Christianity’s All Saints’ and All Souls’ days, you will get a complete picture of how Halloween came to be celebrated by the early 20th century.
From there the book moves into the part I’m always excited to learn more about: Halloween customs and traditions by country. I enjoyed all the specific traditions outlined so well, you could follow each and every one if you wanted to. There is even an entire chapter on early American traditions, which I found fascinating.
Oliver’s voice is warm and easy listening, kind of like someone tucking you in for a Halloween bedtime story. And as just two hours and 30 minutes, you could easily listen to the entire book in one afternoon or during a couple commutes.
Overall, I give this audiobook a 4 out of 5.
Check it out now:
A Vintage medley of spooky fascination and fun for every grown-up who still thrills to the sight of carved pumpkins, straw witches and the eerie promise of a full, golden moon crowning a crisp October night! In Ruth Edna Kelley’s The Book of Halloween, you’ll discover the roots of our modern Halloween holiday in the religious and cultural traditions of the ancient Celts, Irish, Scots, Welsh, Britons, Germans and other Peoples of Old Europe, while also catching an enticing firsthand glimpse of how the holiday was enjoyed during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, in both Europe and America. Filled with Halloween poems, games and tried and true ancient methods for divining the future, The Book of Halloween opens a captivating window onto the past of one of today’s most beloved holidays.
I received a free copy of this audiobook for review, but all opinions are my own. Please see my disclaimer page for more on this type of content.
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