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on October 25, 2007
I was so thrilled to discover that this book is back in print! My grandmother owned a copy, and I read it over and over again at Halloween when I was a little girl. It is the ultimate history of the Halloween holiday, from ancient times to the early Twentieth Century. The author, Ruth Edna Kelley, was herself just 25 or so when the book was originally published in 1919. I'm not a very good review writer, but I wanted to let anyone who is considering buying this book know that this is a very nice edition, and the cover is just adorable. Everything I remember from childhood is there, except for a few blurry black and white pictures that were never very exciting to begin with. What makes this book great are the words, the accounts of how Halloween was celebrated in various countries, especially the Victorian Era games people played at parties, including about a dozen "tests" for discovering the name or seeing the face of your true love in a vision. I am crazy for anything having to do with this era, and re-reading The Book of Hallowe'en after all these years was like stepping backward in time and really being there. The accounts are so vivid, it really makes you want to just live now the way they did then. With this book, you could accomplish it. Everything you would need to have an authentic Victorian Halloween party today is right here. Best of all, it's just $13.95. I've seen used copies selling on Amazon for over a thousand dollars! I'm just tickled, really! This is a great book!
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on March 5, 2008
Tara Conrad praised this book very well in her review, so I won't rehash the reasons The Book of Hallowe'en is a great work of folklore and fun. I do want to point out, though, that her review refers to the Better Days Books edition, which is considerably cheaper and has an awesome cover. It's the same book on the inside, so save yourself a few bucks! This review will likely populate to all editions of this book by all publishers, so please note that the Better Days Books edition has "" listed as publisher (I don't know why) on the product page. But you'll know you're there when you see the cover - an adorable Halloween owl sitting atop an old-fashioned, round-eyed jackolantern. And a list price of $13.95!

Attention Wiccans and pagans! The Book of Hallowe'en is probably the best history of the Samhain holiday ever compiled. Ruth Edna Kelley really did her homework, and the literal centuries of folklore gathered in this book, from all over Europe and America, is a priceless source of information every person with a magickal inclination should have in their library.
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on March 30, 2008
Hallowe'en aficionado number one right here. Skeleton Jack was based on me. I thought there was nothing I didn't already know about my holiday, but apparently I missed a few things from the turn of the century.

Be prepared though. This book is wonderful as a chunk of history re-printed in the glow of a new millennium, but it's also dated in some ways of thought. That the people of Better Days Books left the text intact instead of editing it is very admirable. You'll be reading history as it was written, not as it has been changed to be.

Sadly, despite being very educational and exciting, Ms. Kelley is a rather poor author. The text is brief on subjects and jumps around considerably. Still an enjoyable read, but I found myself wanting more on subjects that only received a mention.

Overall, for the very reasonable price of this paperback, you can't go wrong. If you're even the slightest bit interested in how Hallowe'en was celebrated in and around the author's time, as well as speculation on customs from long before her time, definitely purchase this book.
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on October 17, 2011
Published nearly a century ago, 'The Book of Halloween' is a treasured collection of historical information associated with the origins, customs and superstitions surrounding Halloween and its lesser known counterpart Walpurgis Night (a.k.a., May Eve).

Tracing early Celtic, Scottish, Manx, Welch, English, Briton, and "Teutonic" (i.e., Scandinavian/Germanic) influences, Ms. Kelley presents an amalgamated holiday rooted in pagan influence, co-opted by Christianity, steeped in augury tradition, and subsequently adopted and engrained into North American culture.

Ruth E. Kelley's book truly is an amazing wealth of information; unlike a number of its vintage Halloween counterparts, her book, fortunately, remains in regular publication via a handful of different publishers. However, because of this particular publisher's (Better Day Books) dubious decision not to include the original photographs and artwork, I can not recommend purchasing a copy of this book from them. Other publishers (and even Google's public domain website) offer all of the original text and images, so why would this particular publisher choose not to do the same?

Don't let this publisher sell you a compromised product; find a copy of the book that includes ALL of the original material.
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on June 21, 2008
This is an older view of Halloween. It gives an excellent overview of Halloween and gives a splendid idea about the spooky goings on during the late 1800s and early half of the 1900s. I recommend it.
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on July 26, 2015
I'm writing this review with the sole purpose of clearing up any confusion about the illustrated Kindle version of this book. Amazon lumps all of the reviews of a book together, regardless of publishers, without figuring out if the contents are the same. This is especially troublesome for a book like The Book of Halloween, which I believe is in the public domain, and thus can have dozens of variations out there, with differing degrees of quality.

One of the top reviews stated that the Better Day Books version was the best. Another stated that this version is not illustrated. Then we have a one-star review from a frustrated Kindle user who was hoping for illustrations but didn't have any in the version they purchased. Here's the thing: There are two versions of this book for sale. They are priced EXACTLY the same. The only differences seem to be the publishers and the covers (and, apparently, the illustrations).

The Better Day Books version (with the cover picturing an owl sitting on a jack-o-lantern) states that it is illustrated. I've purchased it for my Kindle and I can verify that this version IS illustrated. Well worth the $0.99 I paid for it.

The CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform version (with the black & white witches drawing cover) may not be illustrated. I have not purchased that version, but I'm willing to bet that those who are complaining about the lack of illustrations purchased this one.

Amazon really needs to fix this glaring problem. Even right now, trying to search for one version of this book brings up the other. If I search ALL PRODUCTS for "The Book of Hallowe'en: The Origin and History of Halloween" it'll give me one version, but if I only search BOOKS, it gives me the other. The prices may be the same, but the reviews indicate very different products. To reiterate: The Better Day Books Kindle version has illustrations. Hope this has been useful.
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on October 4, 2013
The Book of Hallowe'en is about what you'd expect--or at least, it was exactly what I expected. It's basically a bunch of traditions from over Europe briefly explained, and a few from the USA, too. There's not a whole lot of depth, but there is a very long references section which can probably provide that depth. It seems to have been factual for it's time (around 1919), though the ways we view facts and history and primary sources have all changed, so I don't know how well it holds up nowadays as a factual document.

My complaints are few, but I'll mention them; first the lack of depth that I mentioned, which sometimes made me feel as though I was just reading a long list of anecdotes. Second, I'm not sure how to consider some of their sources. There were plenty of quotes from tradition songs, and then there were quotes from fiction like Peter Pan, and I couldn't tell if the author was analyzing the newer stuff to portray new depth, or if they were using fiction as a primary source, or what.

If you enjoy books like this, either in style or in topic, I also recommend Folk Lore Superstitious Beliefs in the West of Scotland within This Century.
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on December 21, 2013
This book, originally written in 1919, isn't very big but gives a lot of information about various traditions related to Halloween, most of them being still practised at the time the author wrote. Customs and folklore of Ireland and various parts of the UK are mentioned and the celtic origins of Halloween are adressed. But other influences and other related festivals are also discussed (like Roman festivals or Walpurgis Night).
The best thing about this book is that the author quotes A LOT of literature works (some of them of the 19th century, some of them much older) that examplify in a different, more poetic way the traditions and beliefs that the author just described.
Reading this book will give you a really good insight of 19th century folklore (in the British Isles mostly but also France, while a few other places are quickly mentioned) and will offer you some information about the pre-christian background of Halloween.

A really nice read for those interested in the history of Halloween and folklore (celtic in particular).
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on June 23, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. I had heard it as a Librivox recording and enjoyed it so I bought the book. It's very interesting to learn of the origin of our Halloween traditions, and it has some great poetry.
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on February 27, 2015
This was a cute little book about the origins of Halloween. Every Halloween I like to read up on something creepy, whether it be the holiday, the origin of costumes, witches, zombies, whatever I feel that year. This was my read for last year and I learned a lot.
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