Author: Anonymous (Edited by Cyril Scott)
Ryder, 2004 (originally published in 1953)
Subtitled The time-honored classic of the paranormal, this book is presented as the diary of a young boy (probably around 9-11 years old, although his age is never specified) living in England in the 1880s. Cyril Scott (the "Editor") claims that he received the diary some years later in the mid-twentieth century after the death of the diary's author. Whether or not this is true doesn't really matter to me, and to be perfectly honest, I didn't care about how the so-called diary was found anyway. It was the contents that interested me.
In the beginning of the diary, the boy (whose name is never stated) is beginning to show signs of having psychic abilities. He can see auras (he calls them "lights"); he can also see mythical creatures, like fairies. He gets "feelings" about people. He also sees spirits of dead people, including his grandfather and a man he thinks is Jesus Christ.
The boy's parents are very conventional. His father is too busy working and making money to really pay much attention to him. His mother is extremely "Victorian" and worries too much about what other people think - especially with regards to religion and church issues. Mildred, his older sister, is engrossed in her own life and has an antagonistic relationship with her little brother. Early on, we become aware that the boy is struggling because his family thinks he's either lying or cracked in the head when he talks about what he can see.
At just the right time, a new teacher comes into the boy's life. The teacher is a sort of "closet Spiritualist." At the time, Spiritualism was a growing phenomenon in England, but was still considered a bit out there as many people considered it a threat to the current religious thinking. The teacher learns of the boy's "gifts" and then works with him (behind the parents' backs, of course) to develop the gifts, thus making a lasting impact on the boy's life.
The boy is an inquisitive little fellow, and surprisingly open-minded. He actually had me laughing out loud, and quite often. Particularly amusing are his descriptions of how his parents react when he asks for clarification on the Vicar's sermons. Examples (I'm paraphrasing): "What does it mean 'to covet thy neighbor's wife'?" "What does 'lust' mean?" "What is a harlot and why is it that I'm not allowed to say that word? - it's in the Bible."
The boy stole my heart, and he will yours, too. Unfortunately, the "diary" part written by the boy ends way too soon. This is followed by sporadic other "diary" entries written as the boy grows into an adult. We learn what happens to him in life as his spiritual growth continues. I enjoyed the first part of the book far more than the last part.
This is a book that will challenge your thinking. So if you're not into thinking differently, and you're not interested in Spiritualism or the paranormal, then this is not the book for you.
Rating: 3.75 stars (the "diary" part written by the boy would get 4.5 stars!)