Grimoires: A History of Magic Books – Owen Davies
Oxford University Press – 2009
Normally, when I review an occult book or a book on occult books, I spend most of the review criticizing the book’s claims and/or the author. Grimoires by Owen Davies is a no bullshit history of magical books, and thankfully, I don’t have much to criticize. This book was clearly very well researched, and it never gets bogged down in speculations on the efficacy of the books its discussing. This is an academic work, but don’t let that scare you. The actual history of grimoires is almost as interesting as the ridiculous back stories that these books so often include.
I’ve read and researched a few of the books discussed in here (The Lesser Key of Solomon, The Grand Grimoire, the Abramelin text, the Faustian Grimoires, the Necronomicon, the Satanic Bible) so some of this was revision for me, but there’s also a tonne of stuff that I had never heard of. I added a few books to my to-read list while reading this.
I thought I’d have way more to say about this one, but I don’t. It’s pretty good though. I’m quite sure I’ll be referencing my copy again in the future. If you want to read a book about the history of books of magic, this is yer only man.
3 thoughts on “Grimoires: A History of Magic Books – Owen Davies”
I’ve also read Davies’ “America Bewitched,” which came out in 2013. I thought “Grimoires” a better, more tightly organized book. I have to wonder if his agent saw the chapters on “pow wow” magic in “Grimoires,” and said to Davies, “Hey, you got 20th century Pennsylvania and everyone knows about Salem, 1692, who not do a book linking them both?” Don’t get me wrong, “America Bewitched” isn’t bad, I just didn’t find it as satisfying.
I heard Owen Davies speak at a Pagan Federation conference when this book was published. I was impressed, I am not an academic but was still engaged and captivated throughout.
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I have a copy of this book. Good content, but lousy binding. I turned a page and a whole section came loose from the binding. Cheap, glued binding. Disappointing considering it is an Oxford University Press Publication.