4 November 2012


Nick Redfern. The World’s Weirdest Places. New Page Books, 2012.

Nick Redfern is well-known to regular readers of forteana, being a prolific and enthusiastic writer on many subjects that come under that heading.  He has certainly been at it for a number of years, and has books, radio appearances and lectures under his (metaphorically) capacious belt.  He has been the author of many pieces for magazines and periodicals, among them the august Fortean Times. 
In this, one of his most recent works, he casts an experienced eye over locations where strangeness, or high strangeness, as he would have it, abounds.  These are, indeed, scattered all over the world and show that oddity can even be in one’s back yard.

One of the first things that one notices is Mr Redfern’s animated demeanour.  It is what is generally known as infectious.  His passion for his subject jumps, as the old saw has it, off the page and jollies the reader along in the manner of a cheery, yet knowledgeable tour guide.  There is certainly a positive quality akin to good, old-fashioned storytelling about his narratives that leads an unsuspecting reader into some truly odd places.  And my, but those places are very odd indeed!  Forests where werewolves sprint into the ancient woodland, black dogs glare from baleful, red eyes that threaten impossibly from fairy tales, long-past underground civilisations made from gold; all of these wonders and yet more are waiting to be discovered by those looking for the less usual happenings in our own world.  In what I consider to be a desirable move, he does not look at such obvious sites as Stonehenge and the Giza Plateau because “these haunts, and many others, have been covered in countless other titles and, arguably to the point of near saturation”.  Quite.  So what we have here are his preferred sites, and the book is all the better for this personalisation.

it is worth noting that The World’s Weirdest Places is very much an overview of bizarre happenings in any area covered, rather than an exhaustive dissection of the site in question.  Although there clearly is plenty of research of the history and the events that are purported and reported, this is a book that generally presents an example in a half to one page, then passes on.  Hardly a surprise in a slim two hundred pages, though, to be fair, and it is very wide-ranging, considering its modest size.  If a more detailed breakdown of any event is desired, then an index and a large bibliography are provided to enable those of an enquiring mind to garner more knowledge of the events presented for them.  Though the subjects are kept brief, quite a lot is packed into a few words.  Also, in addition, he still manages to uncover data not more generally known even to the more experienced fortean.

This book is very accessible. Mr Redfern’s language is simple and relaxing to read.  He is also an author who delights on engaging and amusing his audience and approachability seems to be his watchword.  It is very encouraging to see someone of his calibre putting his energies (which seem to be considerable – the bibliography is rather on the big side) into a book that can be read by neophyte and initiate alike.  I suspect the Plain English people would approve of his work.  This strikes one as a volume that would be excellent for either an intelligent young person or a newcomer to forteana (although I found information new to me even though I have been reading about such things for nearly forty years) precisely because it is uncomplicated yet not patronising either, and an entertaining read to boot.
  • Trevor Pyne.

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