Houses of Horror

Houses of Horror - Hans Holzer I must say it saddens me to be disappointed by a book I was so eager to read. Houses of Horror is a compilation of some of the house hauntings studied by author and parapsychologist Hans Holzer. Each chapter spotlights a particular case, or multiple cases occurring in the same area, in Mr. Holzer's career of studying and releasing spirits trapped between worlds and unable to rest peacefully. This type of work appeals to me, as I've had a long-time interest in the occult.

After several chapters, my disappointment began to settle in as each chapter vaguely resembles every other. The author does not live up to the "horror" promised in the title and simply explains the same, repetitive spiritual behavior in each house, which rarely strays from phantom footsteps, "uneasy" feelings of an unseen presence, random figures in the dark that disappear when the lights go on, and other various noises. Nothing about Holzer's accounts inspired any feelings one expects when reading ghost stories. Rather, the stories should be more accurately marketed as various cases of a professional parapsychologist, and nothing more. An aggravating reoccurance is the lack of closure in many of the cases, while others are hardly more than snippets of cases that seem just thrown in at will, giving very little detail, background, or substance at at all. A paragraph or two of "fluff" from an unrelated case appear in many of the earlier chapters, becoming rarer as the book progresses.

The unnecessary "fluff" and lack of assumed horror can be easily overlooked as the author offers interesting insight into a lesser-known, sometimes taboo, profession and a greatly mysterious subject matter, however the excessive occurance of typographical errors shows a complete lack of proper editing. As the third edition (the first published in 1970),one would expect such obvious mistakes be corrected at some point. Nevertheless, my personal experience reading this book was marred by lack of proper spacing between words and numerous punctuation errors.

Finally, the repetitive nature in which the chapters are written dispelled some of the original curiosity I had for what each individual story would contain. Holzer gives the background of the case, summarizes his visit to the house (usually involving a trance medium), and after a short communication with the spirit, convincing them their work on earth is done so they can cross over. Many simply end with the author's hope that his visit ceased the disturbances, not offering any proper conclusion or follow-up. I found myself wondering if my copy was missing pages that satisfactorily closed a few of the chapters, but alas, mine is fully intact.

I really enjoyed the ride along in such a fascinating field, learning many new factoids and methods concerning the procedure for dispelling ghosts from a home, as well as insight into the various manifestations of ESP, and do so recommend to anyone particularly interested in such topics. But if a good scare is what you're looking for, Houses of Horror will not satisfy.