On the Shelf Review: Occult Guide to London

The Occult Guide to London is the latest supplement, of sorts, to the Bookhounds of London supplement (previously reviewed here) for Pelgrane’s Trail of Cthulhu game.  I hesitate to call it a supplement because of its overall lack of game rules or statistics for the people, places, and Things listed within.  Instead, we have a guide to the occult underbelly of the city in the Thirties, the work of a hard-working but poverty-stricken lad in the East End whose skillful writing earns him  acclaim, riches, and a seat in Parliament.

All right – it’s found among the effects of a delver into obscure mysteries who has vanished mysteriously, but you knew that already.

The Occult Guide to London is subdivided into five sections – the City and the four directions – in accordance with the previous Bookhounds formula.  Each has a quick description of that section of the city, followed with various neighborhoods and their sites of interest to those of an occult bent. A brief section on mystical personalities around London – ranging from Anne Besant to Aleister Crowley to Harry Price – rounds out the book.

I don’t consider myself an expert on mystical London by any means, but the book mentions just about every important London occult site that I can imagine, save for the shop of John Denley.  (And I can recall receiving some queries in that regard, to which I replied with multiple addresses, so it’s possible the omission was my fault somehow.)  Though some incidents and places are historical in nature, the book does an excellent job of tying these to the 1930s “present” of Bookhounds.

The printed edition of Bookhounds, which I have yet to see, will include a page on integrating the Occult Guide therewith.  In the meantime, the book provides a great deal of great story hooks and interesting people for a group of bookhounds to meet.  If there’s one area in which I’d have liked to see more, it would be more places to find books themselves.  Then again, as I’ve pointed out, the curse of Bookhounds is that a supplement that covers the Thirties, London, the occult, book culture, and the Mythos all at once is likely to come up short on one of those fronts.

As for the rest of you who’ve been reading this wondering about how it might work as an actual guide to occult London, I don’t dismiss that possibility entirely.   Using it as such might require a careful eye, first to adjust for the fact that the book is written from a Thirties perspective, and the second to remove those Lovecraftian elements that pop up from time to time.  Nonetheless, it might be worth a look for those interested in such topics.  (I think there is an Occult London guidebook out there for regular travelers, but I can’t speak to its quality.)

At any rate, this is an enjoyable and entertaining read for anyone interested in one or another aspect of the Bookhounds universe.

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thanks once again for your wonderful blog. My congratulations on professional promotions, and sympathies on matters of the heart. Do feel free to be tempted to London this summer to blow the cobwebs out of your soul, and to make at an occult London walking tour; your feet can be your guide. Warmest regards from Treadwellians, we remember fondly your great talk here.

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