The Usborne Guide to the Supernatural World was first published in 1979 and comprised of three smaller, separately published books by Usborne, all under the ‘Supernatural Guides’ banner; Haunted Houses, Ghosts and Spectres; Mysterious Powers and Strange Forces; Vampires, Werewolves and Demons. They were written and edited by Eric Maple, Lynn Myring and Eliot Humberstone.
The books were ostensibly aimed at the younger market but were packed full of odd facts and stories from around the world, many of which certainly play to a wider audience. The books began with an overview of the subjects they covered and then proceeded to travel not only through time but also around the world, demonstrating the beliefs and superstitions of different cultures throughout the ages.
Whilst the books on ghosts and mysterious powers were very interesting and packed with information on the likes of hauntings at Borley Rectory (‘the most haunted house in England’) and ESP, it was the book on vampires, werewolves and demons which really held a huge allure for kids hungry for horrific facts.
The books were profusely illustrated, rarely with copies of existing works but completely unique, often rather stunning imagery. With such a broad canvas, the third book did not disappoint with sometimes rather alarming pictures of ghouls and beasts from exotic climes. To their credit, the authors backed these up with information which was both easy to understand and factually based, such as the bizarre adventures of Marco Polo or the 17th Century wolf-boy, Jean Grenier.
Although they were republished in the 1990’s with different (ie worse) covers, though identical text, the books are now out of print but are essential additions to any library of horror and the unknown.