(Sortof) Book Review: Demonhunters Handbook (Swedish book, English review)

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Demonjägarens Handbok, or Demonhunters Handbook in English, is a Swedish book that has not reached international publication. This is not a novel, but it’s not really a children’s book either. It’s like a children’s flip-book, but for adults.

The book contains information on the most iconic of beasts from the horror genre, from vampires and succubi to hellhounds, presented in a different way. What makes the book unique is the way it is presented as the journal of writer Abelard Van Helsing. This pen-name is taken from Abraham Van Helsing, the co-protagonist from Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula. Abelard claims no relationship to Abraham, in fact he doesn’t even mention him or his experiences. Instead, he writes the journal as if Dracula was only one part of a much longer adventure and it differs a bit from the novel.

The journal is addressed to you, the reader, the next adventurer, as you are Abelard’s apprentice. You are about to go through the portal to Hell itself, a place Van Helsing visited long ago.  As the apprentice of Van Helsing, he has written this journal to help you on your way.

Abelard starts off by showing you the different weapons a demonhunter needs and what each weapon is used for, as well as what things these weapons will have no effect on. Everything from simple “grenade,” made from vials of holy water, to the mythological Excalibur itself is described in great detail. He even offers you a map of where you can get each of these items. When it comes to the mythological weapons, he points out where he either hid it himself or where the fight against evil forced him to lose it. When it comes to the regular weapons, he’ll point you to which smith or covenant makes the highest quality. Van Helsing also gives you a sealed letter within this book that will ensure that the smith or covenant will provide these weapons for you, free of charge, for the cause of saving the world.

The map also shows the known location of the graves of demonhunters that has gone before you, the portal to Hell and where you can find more scrolls containing information about the dark powers.

Many of the pages contain flip-cards, multi-stage illustrations and similar interactive things to help bring life to the journal. Every page is full of details, both in text and in graphics, and if it wasn’t for the plastic feel of each of the hard, laminated cardboard pages or the size of the book, it would really feel like you were reading a journal.

My only wish for this book is that it came in translations of other languages, so you could enjoy it as well and perhaps in a smaller, leather-bound format.

For what it is, a children’s book for adult horror-fans, it is a wonderful read. I give Demonhunters Handbook by Abelard Van Helsing a: 4/5

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