Posts Tagged ‘paranormal’


Derren Brown is well known for his apparent mind-reading skills, and magical illusions.  However, he is always totally honest about the fact that he has no belief in psychic ability whatsover.  In this book, he explains much about how he does some of his tricks on stage, and delves into the subjects of memory, illusion (where he explains the basics of how some illusions are created), the power of suggestion and susceptibility, and how psychics and mediums carry out their work – and the truth behind their ‘skills’.

I should say that I am a huge fan of Derren Brown, and was therefore perhaps predisposed into liking this book.  However, I think that anyone who had never heard of him would also find this a very entertaining read.  

At the beginning of the book, after a brief introduction as to how Brown came to be interested in his subject, he teaches a few simple tricks with coins and cards.  

There is then a subject on memory, with some tips and exercises for improving yours).  I liked this section a lot, and have tried the ‘linking’ system myself with measurable success.  I did feel that this section got a little bit bogged down, especially when talking about the ‘peg’ system (the system seemed harder to remember than it would be to recall whatever it is that it’s supposed to help you remember!).  

The sections on hypnosis and seances were very fascinating, exposing much about how these work.  

However, most interesting to me was the part where Brown talks about psychics and mediums, and shows how they can fool an audience using intuition and cunning and confusion (but no psychic ability) to yield apparently incredible results.  I would mention that of course many people have found much needed comfort from such quarters, and may find this part of the book upsetting for this reason.  I do not believe in the abilities of those who claim to be able to contact the dead, and therefore I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it.  Brown does go on something of a mild rant, due to his belief that such people prey on their audiences’ grief and distress.  He breaks down and analyses how psychics (particularly those who have made a celebrity career out of their work) fool their audiences, cheat and use their guile.

During the whole book, Brown makes for an engaging, witty and involved narrator, with a style instantly recognisable to anybody who has ever seen any of this television or live shows.

There is also a comprehensive list of suggested further reading at the back of the book, on all of the subjects covered.

Overall, definitely recommended and not only for fans of Derren Brown.  This book is challenging, funny and insightful.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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When Beth Parker’s estranged sister Lucy turns up on her doorstep needing a place to stay, Beth is dismayed, but she and her husband Simon allow Lucy to stop with them for a while. Tension is evident between the two sisters, and Lucy’s references to Beth’s inability to bear children only deepens the wound, and Beth ends up wishing that her sister would just go away. However, when her wish is granted in shocking fashion, a tiny part of Lucy is left behind – her baby. Heartbroken by the fact that she can never have children of her own, Beth decides that she wants her sister’s child, and she is determined that nothing will stand in the way of her getting the baby. But there are forces at work which want to make sure that she doesn’t get what she has always dreamed of.

Meantime, Beth’s psychiatrist husband Simon has a new patient to cope with at the hospital where he works – a disturbed young woman who has murdered her own children, and who seems to know too much about Simon and Beth for comfort…

I’ll start with the good points of this book. The story is fast paced, and (despite the criticisms of the book which are about to follow), I did find myself anxious to read on to see what happened, on several occasions.

There’s a good story in here somewhere, but a few things ruined my enjoyment of this book. I couldn’t engage with any of the characters at all. I don’t think it’s necessarily important to like a central character, but certainly some feeling about them should be evoked. In this case however, I found I just didn’t care about Beth, Simon or any of the other characters.

The other problem was that there seemed to be an inordinate number of explicit sex scenes in the book – in the first half especially, it felt as if they have been shoehorned into the narrative at every opportunity, necessary or otherwise (usually not necessary at all). I am not usually bothered by sex scenes, but there were so many here that it got a bit tedious. Most of them added nothing whatsoever to the story, and seemed entirely gratuitous.

Finally, the story started out apparently as a psychological horror, but seemed to change genre halfway through! This probably wouldn’t have been a problem, but it took me by surprise!

Overall then, while this had good elements, it was a bit of a disappointment.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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