David Weatherly. Strange Intruders. Leprechaun Publishing, 2016.

Most of us have heard of neighbours from Hell who make life quite intolerable for those around them, but few would take the idea literally. However, as this book shows, there are those in the United States who claim that they have had neighbours who if not exactly from Hell are to put it mildly, pretty damn weird and who seem to lack most human social conventions. They barely converse, live in complete squalor, appear out of nowhere and disappear just as abruptly. Cats don’t like them and dogs run a mile, and maybe they eat raw dog food.

People like this used to dress in black and visit UFO witnesses but now the dress code has been relaxed and the blackness is restricted to their eyes or perhaps their cavernous mouths. This makes them near relatives of the black-eyed children who beg to come into your house. Of course no-one ever lets them in or photographs them. Perhaps this is because they have the habit of being in two places at once or having transparent legs.

There are of course all sorts of other strange creatures, jinns and boggarts, or at least the latter’s Massachusetts cousins the Pukwudgies, along with their colleagues the Shadow People, the grinning men with their impossibly wide grins, Mad Gassers, our old friend Springheel Jack and the new kid on the block, Slenderman.

In the memorates and folklore collected by Weatherly the old and new, tradition and modernity fuse into one another. New folkloric entities such as shadow people and black-eyed children perform many of the functions of classical petty supernaturals, while the mysterious neighbours seem to be a distilled essence of our fear of the 'Other'. The terrible Others are not like us, their food is alien, they eat like animals, they don’t know our social conventions, they don’t know how to use household facilities and they are so unlike us they are not really human at all. That is perhaps the true sinister side of folklore. – Peter Rogerson

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