I try not to wish ill on people who help. Truly, for all of my seething inner rage and the rancid piss of my soul leveled in vitriolic streams at television’s most abusive real life cops, I hope that public servants and those who work in professions directed to the common good receive ample compensation and the most profound respect, provided they are motivated out of a sense of altruism. That said, I found Elaine Mercado a boring, tedious, and ultimately selfish woman whose book, Grave’s End, serves as an instruction manual in how not to live the nuclear family lifestyle. This despite the fact that she’s a Registered Nurse.
From the outset, this book is awful. The writing is redundant. The structure is chronological and tedious, it reads like watching a calendar. The word choice is stagnant. For as many “to be” verbs as I’m using, she used more. And then she tells an awful tale of assisting a crooked nephew in swindling his aunt and uncle out of their dearly cherished home. Seriously, when I read how Mercado acquired the allegedly haunted house, I started hoping that the ghost’s strangulation efforts would prove successful.
There’s selfish, and then there’s Elaine Mercado and family. I lost all sympathy for all time for this woman, her husband, and even her children (because the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree) by page 10. I don’t care about the year-long delay in moving in because Mercado shouldn’t have helped that sleazeball dislocate his elderly relatives.
For the remainder of the book, I was hoping something awful would happen. I was sorely disappointed. Sure, things got a little spooky, but the color proved tepid. Beige beneath dull yellow, a streak of purple would’ve been welcome. It read (in part, at least) like a child’s diary. Waiting on Hans Holzer felt like waiting for Santa Claus to show up. (Did you know that they make EZ-Bake ovens for boys now? I mean, speaking of hugely anticipated disappointments. I would’ve KILLED for one of those as a kid, but it would’ve been as lame as my sister’s.)
I nearly lost my mind when, on page 146, Holzer’s medium declares that the spirits in the house are speaking Dutch and Mercado describes her shock at the revelation. She goes on to inform us that the original European settlers in the area (Brooklyn) were Dutch. You know, you could just watch Animaniacs or like vintage music….
I’ll take remedial American history for $200, Alex.
And in the end, this book serves as little more than propaganda for Holzer who, at the time of the work’s publication, made his living as a researcher of fringe subjects such as hauntings, ufology, and cryptozoology. The book feels a lot like the establishment of a pedigree for Mercado, a documentation of her initiatory experience complete with the appearance of a teacher / guru capable of putting to rest the brunt of the more sinister manifestations.
The book was published by Llewellyn, an occult publishing house that, at the time of the work’s initial release in 2001, suffered from an abundance of bad titles. Despite long-held ownership of certain publishing rites associated with the estates of Israel Regardie and Scott Cunningham (both names capable of carrying any occult publishing house through bear and bull markets alike), Llewellyn released a slew of titles starting in the late 1990s and going for about a decade that could only be considered “soft occultism.” Some of these titles (such as Blue Roots) were exceptional. Most, like Mercado’s work, needed more editing than they received.
Overall, boring. Not Jay Anson quality bad, though! But empty, redundant, and ultimately disappointing.