Home » Book Review » Review: The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, by David Jaher

Review: The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, by David Jaher

 

Subjects:

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Summary: The Witch of Lime Street chronicles Harry Houdini’s fascination with spirit mediums and his obsession with revealing fake mediums as frauds. The book focuses on his rivalry with the controversial medium Mina Crandon, known as “Margery,” and covers the era roughly from the end of the First World War to the beginning of the Second. It features an ensemble cast, with Houdini and Margery at the forefront, and such personages as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Oliver Lodge in the background. It reveals an intriguing era in Western history when interest in the paranormal spiked and grew into a national obsession on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thoughts: Well, it was an interesting read. I learned a good amount about Sir Arthur, Houdini, and the Spiritualist movement. However, I found it unsatisfying in a number of areas. First, I would have liked more history and less rumor. Second, much of the book seemed based on hearsay, making it seem to amount to little more than gossip. For example, often things were said about one character or another but never substantiated. Additionally, I wanted to know how Houdini did his tricks. The author would say things like how Houdini’s tricks were so great they seemed like they could only be pulled off with real magic — and then not explain how they were actually done. Maybe no one knows, but he didn’t say that either. The same with the mediums. All in all, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the subjects covered, but not if you are looking for serious history.

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