The Compleat Vampyre – Nigel Jackson

The Compleat Vampyre: The Vampyre Shaman, Werewolves, Witchery & the Dark Mythology of the Undead
Nigel Jackson
Capall Bann, 1995
180 pages

Sometimes a book promises something grand, and then falls short of its mark. This is one of those books.

I like the basic idea. Jackson brought together a large amount of folklore regarding the supernatural in Slavic and Baltic Europe, and then applied it to shamanic experience. He pulled out some fairly obscure information, which impressed me.

The problem came when I actually tried to read the book cover to cover.

I found parts of it stylistically impossible to read. Much of this was due to a lack of transitional phrases from one piece of information to the next. The various beings, archetypes, and motifs weren’t tied together in a particularly convincing manner, and not enough to support the author’s thesis. While the idea he wanted to support was clearly defined, he didn’t use his material very well to support it. It came across as a rather poorly edited draft rather than a completed book.

I also didn’t care for his scholarship; for example, he drew on the work of Margaret Murray, which has already been disproven a number of times. That and other outdated material on witchcraft really damages the integrity of the research. While he included a bibliography, because there were no citations there was no way of knowing exactly where he got certain facts.

Th ebook really could have used better editing overall, even in proofreading terms. He continually confused “its” and “it’s”–“it’s” is the contraction of “it is”, not the possessive, which is “its”. As in “The werewolf shed its skin,” not “The werewolf shed it’s skin”. This really made me wonder about the rumor that Capall Bann doesn’t actually have in-house editors and just expects the authors to edit their own work.

I’d love to see a rewrite of the book by the author. The idea is a good one, but the execution of it is so bad that a lot gets lost in translation, so to speak. I think I know what he’s tryig to say, but without better editing there’s no way to know for sure.

Two and a half pawprints out of five.

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