Orion Scribner (frameacloud) wrote in holidaygeeks,
Orion Scribner

Book review

Title: Halloween: a grown-up's guide to creative costumes, devilish decor, & fabulous festivities.
Author: O'Sullivan.
Format: paperback book.

My opinions are divided about this book. I give it five stars for the assortment highly original, great-looking, easy costumes. The styrofoam hooves and horns were great ideas, the bug costumes actually looked pretty good, and so on. I especially loved the Monet costume, which was of watery blue cloth and bedecked in water-lilies, with a garden bridge on the hat. Many of the costumes and decorations are very artistic. Even some of the no-sew costumes made me say "Oooh, cool!"

I give it one star for the several infuriatingly innaccurate Asian-inspired costumes and decor. The "samurai" armor was just a joke and perhaps could be said to have its own peculiar charm, and the Yuki Ona costume (which is supposed to be spelled Yuki Onna, it's pronounced differently) was quirky and didn't look even remotely Japanese or even Asian (actually, it looked like the Snow Queen) and the bedsheet kimono was actually pretty good and began to look authentic in comparison to the other things, but when it had flat paper masks from the "Kabuki, or CHINESE opera"...! Ooh, that makes me SO MAD! Aargh! If they'd just stopped at one horribly innaccurate Japanese costume, I would have shrugged and skipped over it, but when they kept doing it, one after another... grr. It's not racist, at least, just not researched enough.

Something similar happens when it talks about using a voodoo-doll motif for a Halloween party. It then tells you a bit about the religions of Vodoun and Santeria, from which the "voodoo dolls" come. This raises the question of why it's using very serious religious symbols as fun party decor.

The book has historical information about Halloween, monsters, and other cultural things. For example, after the instructions for the Green Man costume, it has two pages telling what is known (and not known) about the Green Man's history. With the fairy costume, it tells about different kinds of fairies, and how some kinds of fairies are more dangerous than cute.

However, after having seen how innaccurate this book was when it came to Japan, I'm highly suspicious of its educational value and authenticity in other areas of history and culture. It's clear the book *tried,* since it does at least include historical information for everything it can, but I'm not going to use it as history reference. Enjoy, but take with a grain of salt.

The section about the Mexican Day of the Dead seems considerably more accurate than the others, and fairly true to the spirit of that holiday and culture, but I still feel a bit suspicious about its authenticity.

Sorry if I seem grouchy about the book- I really did enjoy its originality of design. It's a relieving change of pace from the "country charm" Halloween craft books where you've seen everything before. None of those hokey books had scarecrows like the one in this book, which is a terrifying art statue with broken garden implements for claws, a faceless pumpkin head,and a metal wire body wrapped in dead vines! That's probably the scariest thing in the whole book, and genuinely scary at that. Not all of the things in it try to be adult or scary, mind you; there's plenty of light-hearted Halloween silliness too. I am going to have to try some of the things in here!

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