Review: The New England Grimpendium – J.W. Ocker

Because I have clearly not adopted the ‘summer is the perfect time for chick lit beach reads’ mentality, today is another day in which I publish a review for a book that is better suited for the spooky, scary season that is fall.

After falling completely head over heals in love with both the writing style and subject matter of A Season With The Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts I knew the next non-fiction read I was going to pick up had to be written by J.W. Ocker.

Did The New England Grimpendium live up to its predecessor? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.

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9316858The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

Publisher: Countryman Press (September 20, 2010)

Print Length: 304 pages

A rich compendium of macabre and historic New England happenings, this travelogue features firsthand accounts of almost 200 sites throughout New England. This region is full of the macabre, the grim, and the ghastly—and all of it is worth visiting, for the traveler who dares! Author J. W. Ocker supplements directions and site information with entertaining personal anecdotes.

The Review

The New England Grimpendium is another quirky publication by an author who is clearly enamored by the ghoulish history of his country. And yet, due to the disjointed nature of the narrative, and quite a few glaring misprints, the book failed to elicit the same feelings I had while reading other travelogues by J.W. Ocker.

The New Engalnd Grimpendium is the non-fiction travelogue featuring almost 200 of the macabre, the grim, and the ghastly sites sprinkled through out the six states that make up New England.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the overall feel of this book. I thought it was rather clever to arrange this book by theme rather than by location because it allowed Ocker to present New England oddities to the reader by their individual interest. This was particularly helpful for me as a reader as it allowed me to jump in and out of the various sections if I found that I became disinterested in the current topic, specifically the ‘Classic Monsters’ section. But once into the various chapters: Horror Legends and Personalities, Infamous Crimes, Killers, and Tragedies, Horror Movie Film Locales, Notable Cemeteries Gravestones, and Other Mememt Mori, and Classic Monsters, I felt that it was less about creating a cohesive narrative and more about cramming in as many locations as possible. Certain passages should have been longer than others, and Ocker’s publisher really should have gone through the book with a fine toothed comb because at one point, during the section on Rob Zombie in the chapter ‘Horror Legends and Personalities’ it was said that the aforementioned director was the only person still alive in the section, even though not a few passages before Ocker took the reader to the home of Stephen King. I did need to fact check this but as of the writing of this post, King, the master of horror, is still very much alive.

With that said, I did like how the sections that mentioned focuses of previous Ocker books were left rather vague, as it made me want to go out and buy other works from this author in order to really sink my teeth in. Speaking of sink, out of all the entries mentioned in The New England Grimpendium, the Great Boston Molasses Flood has quickly become a favourite anecdote of mine to whip out around friends, family, and unsuspecting co-workers. It has also made me reconsider the idiom ‘slow as molasses in January’ given the fact that the Molasses Flood took place on January 15, 1919 and saw the aformentioned viscous travelling at speeds of an estimated 35 miles (56 km, for all my Canadian readers) per hour… what a way to die. Hopefully, if my plan of traveling to New England comes to fruition, I can visit the Boston Molasses Flood historical marker located at the entrance to Puopolo Park in order to make the reading of this book come full circle.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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And those are my thoughts on The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker. Have any ghoulish non-fiction recommendations? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.


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