Review: This House Is Haunted
By Andreas Charalambous
Updated - 18th April 2015
It truly is a fascinating read, which at times does send chills down your spine (one event in particular did, in my case!) as you try to make sense of what is happening to this family, and why. Running alongside this, Playfair offers a theory suggesting that his involvement in the investigation, along with his colleague, Maurice Grosse, was no coincidence.
As a final note of interest, this case was proclaimed as the inspiration for the BBC’s 1992 ‘live paranormal investigation’ Ghostwatch. Those of you familiar with the TV programme please bear in mind that the events described in this book, although sounding cliché in places, actually happened here first – minus the ridiculously over-the-top finale of Ghostwatch.
SKY Living's imminent 3-part dramatisation The Enfield Haunting is based on the events of this case. Likewise, it is the source of inspiration for the upcoming The Conjuring 2. However, if you want the authentic, no-nonsense version, then this book is a must-read.
This House Is Haunted is a book that I could not wait to read. Partly, due to the fact that I enjoy reading about real life accounts of the paranormal, but mainly because the ‘haunted house’ in this book’s title, is one that could be described as ‘local’ to where I reside. This book is a factual account of the infamous ‘Enfield Poltergeist’ case of the late 1970s, as written by one of its investigators, Guy Lyon Playfair.
Due to the fact that this case was vaguely familiar to me growing up, and having seen a documentary on the case a few years ago, I showed a special interest in this book. It was all the more interesting to read due to the fact that its author was not someone far-removed from the events who had conducted some research then decided to cash-in, as it were. The contents of this book promised to come straight from the horse’s mouth – an eye-witness – so my expectations were high.
Playfair, a Cambridge graduate, is a member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), who along with fellow SPR member Maurice Grosse, was asked to investigate the anomalous activity and the home of the Harper family. This was to be a long period of suffering for the Harper family, as it was for a period of three
The phenomena reported includes typical Poltergeist behavior such as large heavy objects being overturned, objects (and family members) flying through the air and even through walls, levitations, dancing slippers, incredible strange voices that respond to questions, apparitions and other sinister happenings. Having witnessed all these events, Playfair not once tries to sensationalise or exploit the victims. Instead, you get a very honest, matter-of-fact account. There are no egos being massaged in this book.
Seeing as this book gives a near blow-by-blow account of the terrifying events, the reader will at first marvel at the detail, as their interest in the paranormal is peaked – helped by the dozen or so photos taken from inside the house during the investigation. However, despite this, there are certain parts to chapters, which do seem a little tedious. This should not put you off reading it though. This could just be down to the author’s passion and enthusiasm for retelling the events, which required a hell of a lot of courage and dedication at the time.
years that they had to endure – as well as the mental and physical suffering, also came the breakdown of marriage and relationships.
Playfair had revisited the evidence he had gathered – audio recordings, photographic, etc. - during his time in the house, and has spared no detail in documenting the events as they happened. It must be said that Playfair – who spent many years working as a freelance journalist – is no sensationalist when describing the events. This could also be that the Enfield Poltergeist case was not his first, nor his last investigation of this type – but certainly one of the most intriguing.