Andrews’ choice of structure for the book is great. He opens by explaining what a ghost hunter actually does and why he does it. This makes a very accessible and clear opening to a topic as controversial and misunderstood as the paranormal. His style from the start is jovial, down to earth and honest: factors that are refreshing for a skeptical reader and create a real sense of anticipation for the reported ghost ‘facts’ that are to follow. He then goes on to give a brief history of Oxford that serves as a useful backdrop to the ghost stories in the next five chapters.
A Ghost Walk follows, in which we are taken around various haunted sights in Oxford with the book acting as a guide. It starts in Broad Street and does a loop past the Radcliffe Camera, onto the High, up Queens Lane, under the Bridge of Sighs and back onto Broad Street. This is another great idea as it lets your imagination run wild as you read about the ghosts in the places they were actually spotted.
We are then taken on a ghost hunt inside certain haunted theatres and pubs, university colleges, Oxford Castle (famed as one of the most haunted places in the UK - a claim that Andrews firmly dismisses), spooky outdoor spots like Magdalen Bridge and then, finally, on a whirlwind trip around Oxfordshire county. The multitude of stories that Andrews tells are intriguing and often amusing. He relates the stories and how he has heard of them, often in quite a brief fashion. This quite often gives a rather rushed and superficial feeling to the tales, I found myself wanting to know more about where they were plucked from, who experienced the hauntings and how Andrews found out about them. The style gives a sense of detachment and disjointedness that can be quite unsatisfying. Furthermore, the poor grammar and spelling added to this sense and increased my frustration: at times, it seemed as though the book had missed out on the editing stage altogether.
Fundamentally, the book is interesting and conveys Andrews’ obvious passion for ghost hunting. It is let down, however, principally by poor editing, but also, I felt, by a lack of background to the stories of paranormal activity.