Everyone loves stories about ghosts and ghouls, or at least those that like to be scared. There's a certain feeling of spine-chilling dread that travels through one when they converse about their own scares in a dimly lit room late at night with a group of like-minded individuals. That's kind of what The Dead Roam the Earth is like, a book by Alasdair Wickham that attempts to compile evidence of all sorts of supernatural phenomenon including ghosts, poltergeists, movie curses, exorcisms, and paranormal warfare. But this nonfictional account of stories from strangers is a lot like sharing stories about ghosts with someone you don't know - you can never really trust that they're telling you the truth or rather embellishing fact.
Because Wickham rarely cites sources beside the odd book written by the actual person he's writing about, there's no references to back up any of the dozens of tales he's telling. It immediately makes moot the whole subtitle of "true stories"; since his book is published, I could pretend like that means Wickham's a truthful and wholesome guy, but that doesn't make you much money my friends. I'd like to think these stories - especially the really farfetched ones that I think are pretty cool and would make good fiction tales - are real, but without any proof, there's no way to corroborate it unless I were to try to decipher the names of the people he refers to, contact them, and ask them myself. It's the old Internet adage of "pics or BS" at work here.
There's also the problem that stems from where Wickham plucks these stories; has he gone online, searched out forums, and then used those "factual" tales in his book? If so, they should all be readily available online - and in truth, some of these tales are actually either quite old or have been explored many times before, like the Anneliese Michel exorcism or the curse on the Poltergeist films.
But The Dead Roam the Earth does venture into some compelling territory; namely, the chapter on demon and ghost sex. Yes, there is a section on ghost sex. It might sound outlandish, but I still enjoyed reading it. Are you counting me in the 50 Shades of Grey weirdo crowd yet? And there's paranormal warfare stemming back to the Nazis all the way through the '90s which has a certain air of excitement, if only because we don't hear about these events as often as I would like to. But there again lies the problem of references - there's no citations documenting where Wickham gleaned the information from, so I can't accept the evidence just from this book alone. More research will need to be done.
And this book is fairly fun to read. Wickham has a knack for telling ghost stories, and they're formulated very well. It's simply unfortunate that the book fails to uphold its research; there's not even a references section at the back. For all the reader knows, Wickham could have made up most of the stories himself - which means The Dead Roam the Earth will never be used for anything more than spooky reading material in the dead of night.