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Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween Hardcover – October 15, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books; First Edition edition (October 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780230478
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780230474
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Trick or Treat covers the history of Halloween from its ancient Celtic roots to its stunning growth in global popularity in the 21st century. Morton is an accomplished horror short story writer, and her ability to draw readers in quickly and keep them turning the pages shines through in her nonfiction as well. Lavishly illustrated, this solidly researched and concise work is fun to read and a great choice for readers who want to know why we seek out the scary each October.” 
(Library Journal)

 “If you want to know anything at all about the subject, you ought to find it in Trick or Treat. . . . Morton’s interesting account of Hallowe’en is at its best when it comes up to date and there are many entertaining illustrations.”
(Susan Hill The Times)

 “Full of historical nuggets and strange folklore, Lisa Morton's Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is the perfect bible for all devoted disciples of the holiday.”
(Michael Dougherty, Writer & Director, Trick 'r Treat)

 “With Trick or Treat Lisa Morton gives us a charming, creepy, insightful and thoroughly fascinating history of Halloween. It’s a delicious blend of cultural history and pop-culture savvy that is a true delight to read!”
(Jonathan Maberry, author of Flesh and Bone and Assassin’s Code)

 “This is an excellent survey of the Halloween scene, informative and accessible, far more treat than trick.”
(Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies and Anno Dracula)

 “In a modern world, increasingly filled with pop culture fads and gimmicks, Lisa Morton reveals much of the underbelly history and unknown facts regarding the biggest pop culture event in history—Halloween. Her sheer delight and well-researched enthusiasm in tackling many of the unrecognized aspects of this monstrous topic makes one wonder what we don't know about everything else that should be as commonplace to our psyche as a bag of candy.”
(Del Howison, editor of Dark Delicacies and Book of Lists: Horror)

“[Morton] playfully sets the record straight on the origins of Halloween. . . . This book is an excellent example of the scholarship on holidays as a means of accessing many facets of history. Highly recommended.”

About the Author

Lisa Morton is an award-winning author and one of the world’s leading authorities on Halloween. Her work includes The Halloween Encyclopedia and A Hallowe’en Anthology: Literary and Historical Writings Over the Centuries. She lives in Los Angeles.

More About the Author

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, award-winning prose writer, and Halloween expert whose work was described by the American Library Association's READERS' ADVISORY GUIDE TO HORROR as "consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening". She began her career in Hollywood, co-writing the cult favorite MEET THE HOLLOWHEADS (on which she also served as Associate Producer), but soon made a successful transition into writing short works of horror. After appearing in dozens of anthologies and magazines, including THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF DRACULA, DARK DELICACIES, THE MUSEUM OF HORRORS, and CEMETERY DANCE Magazine, in 2010 her first novel, THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES, was published to critical acclaim, appearing on numerous "Best of the Year" lists. Her book THE HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA (now in an expanded second edition) was described by REFERENCE & RESEARCH BOOK NEWS as "the most complete reference to the holiday available," and Lisa has been interviewed on The History Channel and in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL as a Halloween authority. She is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, a recipient of the Black Quill Award, and winner of the 2012 Grand Prize from the Halloween Book Festival. A lifelong Californian, she lives in North Hollywood, and can be found online at

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kurtis primm on October 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the very best most imformative Halloween history book that I have ever read. If you want to know the true roots of this spactacular holiday, not the heresay, or muddled assumptions, but the truth with facts, then look no further than this book. I have a massive Halloween book collection and I have never read a book yet with so much information about the true roots of Halloween. The book was a great read and I could not put it down. I am so very glad that I bought this book, and if you are a lover of Halloween, or history, then pick up this book. You will be very glad that you did.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Books Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone on June 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is precisely what it claimed to be--a history of the centuries old holiday that has become Halloween. Morton's work is not a scholarly study, but instead strives for a more popular style of writing, including illustrations.

As this is not a scholarly study, the question then arises as to why we need another popular history of Halloween. Morton begins her work with the Celtic holiday of Samhain. She provides a thorough background of the Celtic mythology and links to Beltaine as well. She then moves to the continent, focusing on an eclectic combination of holiday influences from Denmark to Guy Fawkes Day in England. There are chapters on The Day of the Dead from Mexico and other global traditions. The book closes with an extensive chapter on modern Halloween, including movies and theme parks. As I finished, I couldn't help but feel as if I had just finished several Wikipedia articles. There was little fresh information here for fans of the holiday. The work was well-detailed, but those details could come from any decent blog site or encyclopedia article. Simply put, there was little reason to write this book and even less reason to read it.

For horror fans, Halloween is the holiday of the year. Scares, frights, ghouls, and monsters come out of the shadows to invade our streets, our homes, and our imaginations. This holiday is rich with history and symbolism, and Morton tries to bring that history to life. Unfortunately, it's merely a retelling of the basics instead of an enlightening journey into the past. Three stars because it's well-written, but check out any of the major Halloween web sites for essentially the same material.

Review copy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PDC on January 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Exhaustively researched, beautifully written and illustrated, and a delight to read from beginning to end, Lisa Morton's 'Trick Or Treat' is, flat-out, the single best volume I've ever come across on the twisted, surprising and captivating history of Halloween, as well as related holidays such as Dia de Los Muertos or All Saint's Day. Endlessly fascinating and informative -- I didn't even know a pumpkin was a fruit until I read this addictive little tome! -- I did not want this book to come to an end. Morton's knowledge of and passion for her subject is infectious and calls up all the goose-bump raising and spine-tingling sights, sounds and smells of the autumn season and its increasingly popular celebration of all that is mirthfully macabre and whimsically weird. Both quaintly nostalgic and edgily up-to-date, this cornucopia of communal creepiness deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone who, like me, has a soft-spot in his wicked little heart for this sometimes misunderstood black sheep of holidays which is nowadays coming spookily close to rivaling Christmas in national popularity. So if you just can't wait for next All Hallows Eve to roll around, just grab yourselves a cuddly black cat, carve yourselves a Jack O' Lantern, fire up a nice midnight cauldron of your favorite witch's brew, then start reading! But don't forget to ignite a toasty bonfire first as it's the prefect reading light for Lisa Morton's beguiling tour of the wild and wonderfully haunted history of Halloween!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brad C. Hodson on December 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Lisa Morton follows up her amazing HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA with a quick and informative read. Think you know the history of Halloween? You're wrong. DEAD WRONG. Morton smashes all the common misconceptions of Halloween (including that persistent bugger of a myth that it was once a festival to worship Samhain, A Celtic God of Death that never actually existed). If you're a Halloween nut, curious about the holiday, or know someone who's been put off by the BS anti-Halloween tales, pick up this book. You will not regret it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lisa Morton's Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is not the ultimate Halloween reference work (though one doubts that any single book could qualify in that capacity), but that said, it is arguably the best single book on the history of Halloween that you could ever want. At 199 pages, it is a comparatively short book and remarkably compact, and yet it covers an enormous amount of material, more than making up in breadth what it might possibly lack in depth. It is also filled with a number of illustrations, from centuries-old woodcuts to contemporary photographs which really give the reader a feel for the periods being covered (and if you're old enough, a nostalgic feel for Halloweens remembered from childhood).

Highly recommended.
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