The Encyclopedia of Death

By Robert Kastenbaum and Beatrice Kastenbaum
Avon, tpb, 293 pages, $15.00
ISBN: 0-380-71952-5

This looked like the ultimate bathroom-reading for horror fans, and it is a fun book in a gruesome way. It is... well, encyclopedic, in both the positive and negative senses of the word. The Encyclopedia of Death does have entries on just about any aspect of death a reader might care to imagine, although the book's organization can make material less easy to locate than it might be. However, the book is just a little too clinical. It lacks the anecdotal detail that brings truly inspired reference books to life. On the other hand, it's always useful to have a book around to help "distinguish [necrophilia] from intense but temporary attachments to the corpse of loved ones that may occur during the course of bereavement and under other special circumstances." The Kastenbaums may take themselves a little too seriously, but this is still a nice stocking stuffer for horror fans.

All talk and no action... this really looked like it would be a much more interesting book than it actually turned out to be.

First appeared in Horror magazine, January 1994.

Copyright © 2004 by Leigh Grossman