Christopher Saint Booth tells it like he sees it.
Okay, the problem I have with reviewing books is that I prefer to go over review material 3 times before making a comment. The 1st because it is always new to me, the 2nd is because I am now familiar with the material and can better assess without the shock of the new, by the 3rd. I know exactly what to expect, so can then cast more critical eyes over it and draw a better conclusion. I usually review movies and this process although time consuming is far faster with a movie than a book review. Reading the same book 3 times can be gruelling, but in this case I found it necessary as I was fairly much undecided as to the approach here.
There are many things about this book which I find problematic. All 3 readings lead me to the conclusion that Christopher Saint Booth has a distinct passion for all aspects of his career and the talent and intelligence required to back it up. He is also committed to dealing with the various aspects of his work with an honesty and integrity which is seldom seen these days. A few weeks ago he contacted me and asked if I would give his quasi-autobiographical book a once over and I was happy to do so. I received this book in PDF format as an uncorrected proof, though the final version is now complete and available.
What I am about to say some of you might find a little odd, but stick with me on this as it'll all be explained properly. Here goes… I found the book itself to be rather disappointing, the reasoning behind this is that Christopher Saint Booth is a particularly enigmatic and fascinating character, his early life is the kind of back story which millions of people would aspire to, yet he is rather blasé about the whole thing and it is only briefly touched upon in Paranoia. I can't help but think that this book was a project he rushed into between other projects as much of the material here is truncated. That's an absolute shame in my honest and humble opinion as there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the life story which he has casually skimmed over would be of major interest to a great many people. However there is a problem in delivering this back-story because although it could be classed as worthy of a book in its own right it is only the beginning of an exceptionally diverse career. Christopher Saint Booth, the horror film-maker is also Christopher Saint Booth the parapsychological investigator and documentary maker. Paranoia serves to outline many of his experiences in creating paranormal documentaries yet there are so many tales to tell that a lot of the stories are more hinted at rather than presented. It is a shame because whether you believe in the paranormal or not there are many fascinating encounters and vivid descriptions which are bound to fuel the imagination. In some of the cases, the writing has a stream of consciousness feel about it, leaving this reader wishing that more was talked about in depth rather than pointed at and swiftly abandoned.
If I could make a recommendation it would be that Christopher writes another book about his early life leading up to his first paranormal experiences as a filmmaker. He could then follow with several continuing volumes of experiences in the field of the paranormal and in general filmmaking. The Booth Brothers have a life story the likes of which could actually be a biopic, which is something this initial book Paranoia does not take advantage of, I can understand the focus was more toward the paranormal, yet I have seen much of the output of these very talented brothers and have reviewed some of their work previously. This is where I have an admission to make, Paranoia does in fact have an edited down version of my interview with Christopher Saint Booth for the Ginger Nuts of Horror in the back of it. This by no means influences me when writing further reviews, as I guess by now that my review of this book as something of a missed opportunity will show. I'm just being honest with you in that my opinions are not open to persuasion; I know that Christopher will understand my angle on this as he also tells it like it is, which is a very refreshing aspect of Paranoia.
I have read masses of books on the paranormal and I am struggling to think of a single one which said that ghost hunting can often be boring. This is the book which tells the reader that it's not glamourous, not action packed and that a lot of the time nothing happens, but when it does….. THAT is when the juice is definitely worth the squeeze.
There are some elements to Paranoia which I was already very familiar with before I even heard of the Booth Brothers as in my youth I was very interested in the paranormal and have read significantly on the subject. This made it instantly clear to me that Christopher Saint Booth does his homework, the attention to detail is not lacking in his documentaries, but as previously stated, is somewhat diminished in this book, which is a shame as the majority of what actually IS included is fascinating and informative and absolutely left me wanting more.
As I said the version I was sent was a PDF proof, I am hoping that the full version is illustrated as this will turn the already creepy cases presented in the book into more than anecdotal experiences, transforming them into something we could more readily share. If it's not illustrated it should be. I'm not saying that I don't like the book, or that you should move along as there's nothing much to see, in fact there's a lot here which those unfamiliar with the paranormal will enjoy. I'm just spoilt in that I learned far more about the Booth brothers from prior research for the interview than I found in this book. That really is my only bone of contention; I think a lot of it is that I know that there is a much greater story to be told here, several in fact.
There's a lot of promotional material in the back of Paranoia, under normal circumstances I would say to skip that stuff, but with this book I would highly recommend that you look up the things on offer as they will give much more complete insights into many of the cases outlined in the book.
Paranoia: The Strange Case of Ghosts, Demons and Aliens is now available from the following outlet.
And from Amazon