For anyone who’s watched the television show Ghost Hunters, the name Keith Johnson will be familiar to them. He was on the show during the early seasons. I liked him a lot and often wondered why he (and some others) were no longer a part of the show.
Keith answers that question in his book Paranormal Realities, but it’s really a small part of the book. It’s mostly an autobiography of sorts about how he came into the field of paranormal investigation and specifically came to be known as a demonologist.
Paranormal Realities covers it all, from his experiences as a child all the way through the television show and beyond. Keith Johnson selected a variety of experiences to highlight his life and what drew him into the field, even as it seemed that his affinity for the paranormal caused both him and his brother (also a paranormal investigator) to be regarded as strange by those around them, particularly in high school. But then, just about everyone who has anything unique and special about them finds this to be the case.
Keith’s experiences within the paranormal and particularly the demonology realm aren’t sensationalized or overblown to make Paranormal Realities interesting. The problems I had with the book were twofold but actually would have been resolved with a better editor.
One is grammar and spelling mistakes. They aren’t prevalent throughout the book, but when they were present, it stopped me short while reading. In one case he uses the word “board” when he meant “bored” or “waist” instead of “waste”. In another spot, a sentence abruptly ended.
The other issue is that the book seems to waver between wanting to be a complete narrative of events right down to every last detail including hairstyles and eye color to be a summary of the events that took place. The going back and forth made the pace seem off and at times it felt like parts that might have been important to the re-telling of events were glossed over while more attention was given to these details.
I also didn’t care for how in a couple of instances he set up the situations by creating a narrative of what was happening in the home before he was called in. It just felt more like I was reading fiction, and that’s not what I wanted. I think there were gaps in the story as well, so perhaps fewer descriptions and a more succinct retelling of events important to his credibility in the field of paranormal research and demonology would help. For instance, there are no details about how he came to be able to perform religious cleansings in the eyes of the Catholic church.
That’s not to say the stories themselves aren’t good – they are. In particular, when the story at hand involves Keith’s specialty in demonology Paranormal Realities can be quite interesting. There was the case of a young Hispanic man who seemed to be possessed and Keith’s experience with the family in a different sort of “exorcism”. There are a few cases that will be familiar to fans of Ghost Hunters and I was curious to see if Keith’s perspective on them differed from what viewers saw on television or what Grant Wilson and Jason Hawes wrote about in their book. I have to say there is a great deal of respect in Keith’s book for everyone he encounters, so if you’re looking for a tell-all from a former TAPS member, you’ll be disappointed.
I did like reading much of the information Keith details about demonology itself, including how a religious cleansing is done of a location. I found these parts along with the advice he gives to be very informative and interesting. The bottom line with any books about the paranormal field is how credible the person behind the pen comes off and Keith Johnson seems quite credible, not resorting to sensationalizing stories for effect or making them more dramatic. None of my criticisms are meant to take anything away from the man himself – I think he does excellent work.
I did enjoy Paranormal Realities, despite its shortcomings. It’s nice to see reasonable people able to discuss the subject and not be labeled as fakes. Changing styles and proofreading problems aside, it’s a good read for anyone interested in the field, particularly the subject of demonology which seems to be sensationalized for the most part.
Categories: Book Reviews