Judika Illes is an authority in the occult and magic. She educates the public through workshops and lectures throughout the world. She is credited as the author of many esoteric books and other publications. Here, Illes edits and introduces the works of other authors to create a compilation of short stories that span over a 65 year period.

The stories contained in this book, or their authors, have pioneered the way for occult mysteries and introduced ideas that we now see in other books, on television shows, movies, etc. In the times they were written, society wasn’t nearly as educated or tolerant of the subject matter involved as we are today. The stories, each written at different times, dating back into the 1800’s, are a definite product of their times, in terms of what was socially accepted during that time period.

The book begins with an introduction where Illes does a great job of taking us back into the history and evolution of the occult mysteries. She describes the historical significance of the subjects in the stories, as well, as the authors who wrote them. “Considering the era in which these stories were written, women writers are well represented” writes Illes (pg. xxii). 

As the reader moves forward to the stories captured in the book, Illes starts each one off with a look at the author. She goes into great detail describing the lives work of that writer, the things they were well known for, how they specifically influenced occult mystery and eventually what came of them. She then goes on to give more detail about what is known about the specific story that the reader is getting ready to enjoy. They learn where it fell, historically, in association with other books of its time and how it may have influenced occult ideas or discoveries.

Illes had her work cut out for her in editing these 13 stories. She warns in the introduction of this book, as to the odd wording in some areas of the stories. This, she tells, is due to the editing required in translating the story from other languages or in making it more understandable to the reader without losing the originality she wanted to keep. Language, grammar, etc. has changed a great deal over the past century and this was done to make it more reader friendly.

The 13 stories themselves are works of art, as they have been credited for numerous times over the years. Illes was brilliant in her selection of these specific pieces to include in her book. You get a nice mixture of ghosts, murder, demons, etc. Thanks to her, they are easy to understand and her excellent background on each story really paves the way and sets the story up for the reader. I would recommend this book to lovers of mystery, the occult, supernatural, thrillers or even those interested in studying some of the history behind occult mysteries.

~review by Keri Nichol

Author: Judika Illes
Red Wheel/ Weiser LLC
p. 288, $$16.95

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