Today, I’m going to break every rule of responsible book reviewing to examine a new work from Troy Books, a London-based publisher issuing works on folk belief and English magical practice. Troy has just started a “Classic Grimoire” project intended to cover thirteen works of the genre. Their first release, as it happens, is The Long-Hidden Friend – the more correct version of the title of Hohman’s The Long-Lost Friend – edited by Cornish witchcraft author Gemma Gary.
This new edition is quite impressive from a visual stance. If you were one of those individuals who wanted a hardback copy of the Friend, this one is worth checking out. The front cover and spine are inlaid with gold foil, and you’ll even find a cloth bookmark attached inside. Artistically the book is more ornate than my edition, with some of the charms presented with greater artistry and numerous illustrations that echo the hex signs found in Pennsylvania German country. (What do hex signs have to do with Hohman’s book? Nothing that I can tell, but they’re nice to look at.)
As for the text itself, I am simultaneously sorry and happy to say that it adds little value. The charms are reorganized into various chapters – “Curative Arts,” “Arts against Evildoers,” and the like – and my examination didn’t turn up any pieces not present in the most common English edition. The introduction is only a little over a page, and no other supporting material – including indices, footnotes, or other commentary – are included.
The question here is one of aesthetics or function. My own edition is great if you want to see all of the charms, the German text, scads of footnotes, and information that contextualizes the piece within Pennsylvania German society and magical belief. On the other hand, the Troy Books edition may appeal to you if you really just want a lovely book to add to your shelf. Or you could get both, as I did. It’s your choice.