My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I liked this book but there were a few things I didn’t like. Let me get them out of the way. I didn’t mind learning about how they got their early start though some of the stuff that got in the way of Everyday Paranormal’s development and eventual TV show really didn’t interest me, though I understand why it would be important to the brothers. (I hate to say it, I never even heard of their show and I thought I knew all the ghost shows. Apparently it’s off the air now). What bugged me were their very dismissive attitudes towards some of their coworkers (not the one who faked evidence or the one who screwed them on the video editing, that I can understand) and of psychics etc. Did anyone else see the irony of them dissing on a team member’s wife for having ghost books on her shelf when by default they’d want people to be reading their ghost book? And the knee-jerk negative reaction to some of the pagan aspects to some people’s belief systems.
But the funniest negative thing for me was the comment about wanting a group without egos after their bad start with another group. There’s a whole lot of ego in here. I’m not entirely sure some of the claims are wholly accurate but since there is no real chronology for ghost hunting, maybe they were the first to yell at ghosts to provoke a bigger response. I sure as heck know they’re not alone. It’s something I dislike about Taps and Zak Bagans for that matter. I will give them this, they tried to reason out why acting like a jackass to a ghost would provoke a bigger response (and if we’re going to be scientific like they claim, did they do any data collection on what really did work) though cortisol and those things work in humans. Ghosts don’t have that but maybe a residual memory of it? I’m thinking too hard here. I do know that doing EVP work isn’t all that new and trending when they bought their digital recorder in 2007. I was doing that with my team back in the mid-1980s with a freaking Walkman which I’ll grant you weren’t that hot. We’ve been trying to record them since at least the early 20th cen but yes, digital recorders are a leap forward.
So now that I got that out of the way, I really did like this book. It’s obvious that the brothers have a good grasp on the scientific method and are using it well. We get both brothers input on every chapter and I very much enjoyed reading about where they went and what they found which is the majority of the book. I’m very familiar with The Myrtles and libraries often seem to be haunted (not sure why that is). The creepiest one, by far for me, is the abandoned nursing home which I think they were well aware of since there’s a teaser for it at the beginning of the book. The description of the nursing home is shocking and not just the ghosts. I’ve been a nursing home doctor and the idea of patient charts just left in situ to be tossed about by trespassers (or staff who knows) is gob smacking. Food trays in the room getting moldy. It’s like what in the hell happened in this shut down (they do mention it was closed for violations). The ghostly activity is chill making (and I expect that to be the case in nursing homes since I’ve seen that myself. Oh look, there’s my ego. See it’s hard to do this kind of thing without it creeping in).
The one that surprised me most I think was the number of haunted K-12 schools. I never really thought about that much and I’m not sure I’ve read much about haunted schools in spite of how much I’ve read on the subject. I liked that. They included their failures or dealings with the less than truthful or maybe even the delusional. Let’s just say the Klinge brothers seems to get a lot of weirdness among team members but the one where the woman faked the evidence is very irritating because I’m with the brothers on this, that kind of crap is just wrong. It ends with the troubles getting a TV show which honestly didn’t interest me. Over all if you like ghost hunting, this is pretty accessible book and they do give you a list of things a ghost hunter would need.
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Black Butler, Vol. 14 by Yana Toboso
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a very satisfying conclusion to the zombies at sea arc. It opens where we left off with more of Sebastian’s cinematic record spooling out. It was a very interesting bit, really. Both Ciel and Sebastian have to learn their roles very fast. It’s a good reminder of just how young Ciel is. He hasn’t been groomed yet to be Earl Phantomhive. His father thought he had more time. Sebastian has to train Ciel in all the things a good earl needs to know, from lessons in Latin to shooting to horsemanship and can be rather brutal in his lessons. On the other hand, Ciel gives as good as he takes in training a demon to be the perfect butler. Interspersed with this is the trauma Ciel is still undergoing inside his head from all the torture (mental, physical and assumed sexual) he endured, not to mention people are still out to kill him.
And the ship begins to sink. Terribly injured by the Undertaker’s scythe, Sebastian still has to protect Ciel even as the Grim Reapers begin to fight each other and him. Grell, Ronald and the Undertaker are all great. Grell has some of the best lines. And once free of the battle, the Undertaker assures the reader he’ll be back by giving something over to Ciel’s keeping. Unfortunately for Ciel, icy water isn’t the only thing he has to endure as the ship goes down. Those zombies aren’t as dead as one would have hoped.
After the conclusion, there is an Easter filler piece to a) allow master and servant time to heal b) to give some relief from the badness. Lizzie is back to her old self and she has arranged an Easter Egg hunt. Soma and Agni are hysterical in this. Yes it is just filler but there is a nugget of story fodder there when Lizzie mulls over the implications of things Ciel says/does in this. I hope she continues to grow as a character.
The last chapter is the beginning of a new arc. Ciel has to infiltrate a high powered, highly exclusive all-boys boarding school at the behest of Queen Victoria. Young men going there have begun to act strange and have refused to return home to their families on holidays and she wants him to see what’s wrong. It’s immediately obvious that Ciel didn’t do his homework on investigating the place before showing up but as for the real threat, will have to wait til next time.
As always, the art is beautiful. Some of the fight scenes are a tad muddy but otherwise, I love the art. The story telling is really picking up in this.
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