Saturday, August 21, 2010

How To Haunt Your House, Book Two ...and fonts

Last month I bought "How To Haunt Your House, Book Two" by Shawn & Lynne Mitchell of the Mitchell Haunt.  In July the book was only available through, but it is now additionally available through Amazon or Barnes &

For me, as with How to Haunt Your House Book One,  it's one of those books I just Love with a capital "L" and didn't want to read too fast, because it would leave  me with nothing more to feast my eyes on. It's easy to go slowly through the book, though, as there's so much information crammed around the lovely photos, you must take the time to make sure you didn't miss any tidbit. It's perfect for pouring over- just make sure you have a notepad at hand, because you WILL get ideas!

My favorite idea involved the use of synthetic jaw parts available to taxidermists to create "Wolfenstein", a wolf made from an animated reindeer (something I had tried to do in the past with just a wolf mask).  "The Hand That Stirs the Pot", sometimes known in the haunt world as a "Stirring Witch" seemed easier to attempt with these instructions compared to others I've seen. For those less artistically inclined, the Mitchells also show you how to dress your prop figures effectively, taking it from, say, a PVC and wood creation (such as the "Tomb Turner" leering prop) to a dramatically distressed spook.  

I think there is quite a  resemblance of both Book One and Book Two to Jason's Surrell's definitive book on the Haunted Mansion, "The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies", and this is not a bad thing, as they will fit nicely together on a bookshelf. Note for yourself the similar sizing, slick covers, Ravenscroft font- which is also the font used on the iconic Haunted Mansion plaque just outside the Mansion's gates- and black background for the photo layouts. These style points made Surrell's book enjoyable; and they work for both of the Mitchells' books as well. However, the Mitchells fit more illustrations to a single page because they trim and layer the photographs, so it has a more casual feel to it than many books. For the authors, it must have been like working a jigsaw puzzle trying to get everything to fit.

How to Haunt Your House Book Two on the left and Surrell's Haunted Mansion book on the right.

I really appreciate that the Mitchells try to be concise, fitting most of the projects on a two-page or four page spread to make it easy for the readers to view and process the information. The book's only flaws are the small grammatical errors, such as abundance of commas. Having another respected Halloween addict perform editing duties in return for a free final copy seems an easy solution. The price for the book is around $35, and for that you don't get dry text with line drawings. Each of the 96 pages is chock full of full-color photographs, and factoring the labor-intensive layout, the price of all that ink, and the usefullness of the instructions, it seems a fair deal.

A moment ago I mentioned  fonts. I'd like to point out that the Ravenscroft font and many other Disney fonts are available for free downloading through the generosity of While Ravenscroft is my favorite (and I like that it was named after Thurl Ravenscroft, the wonderful voice artist of the Haunted Mansion and Frosted Flakes' Tony the Tiger fame), I also like the cute one similar to Walt Disney's signature. It just looks like happiness in font form.
Other nice fonts for Halloween are the dripping blood creepy font, while free font abbadon is great for a haunt sign, and Blackadder looks like Edgar Allen Poe's signature. Other useful fonts can be found by searching  "free font" combined with the name of your favorite horror movie or televison show that had a memorable font,  like "Nightmare Before Christmas", or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."  This site has a number of title fonts, from the Addams Family to the X-files. The advantage of these fonts is they are already associated with in the reader's mind with creepiness, and seeing the letters rearranged into new words lessens only somewhat the feeling that was evoked.


  1. WOW such great reviews! Shawn and I would love to add this to our website, we've added your blog to our links list. Thanks for the reviews!

  2. @Lynne Mitchell: and thank YOU for a great book and for the add to your blog list!

  3. Those books are the great! Thanks for all the great reviews.


  4. Glad you enjoyed the Ravenscroft font! I hope you like it as much as we liked making it, and would like to remind everyone that it's free to use for noncommercial projects.


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