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Other Worlds

3.14  ·  Rating Details ·  787 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
The old-fashioned ghost story has never fallen out of style: Charles Dickens is still best remembered for A Christmas Carol, and Peter Straub, despite his many fine novels, found in the ghost story his most potent tale (Ghost Story, of course!). When Shirley Jackson wrote The Haunting of Hill House and Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw,
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Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 27th 1999 by Harper (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jennifer
Sep 28, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I picked up the book because of the cover (looked like gothic suspense) and flipped open the jacket to read that the characters included Nandor Fodor, Frank Podmore, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, et al. That sparked my interest because it’s very rare to pick up any fiction book that has psychical researchers as characters.

However, it was a disappointment. The premise is of two ghost stories, told within the framework of skeptics and believers lounging in a gentlemen’s club. I’m not fon
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Karen
Feb 07, 2017 Karen rated it really liked it
The men are famous and the time is the past. In a London Club, Houdini, Conan Doyle, and other psychic investigators and debunkers gather to tell ghost stories. Their purpose is to tell the tale, and then each will pick it apart to try to find an explanation for the phenomenon in question.

A really fun read on a rainy Saturday while curled up before the fire.
Lynn Spencer
I just can't keep slogging through this one. I love Barbara Michaels' books in general, and I tend to prefer them to the ones written as Elizabeth Peters. However, this book just felt like a jumbled up mess. The idea of a dinner party of famous minds debating some fantastical event sounds intriguing in theory, but just did not work here. I'll have to content myself with rereads of some of her oldies but goodies like The Crying Child, Ammie, Come Home, or Be Buried in the Rain.
K.B. Hallman
The premise was promising, but the work doesn't hang together a bit well. The first night, when the group discusses the Bell Witch, follows the plan--a series of events are dictated and then the group propose theories about what might really have happened. The writing in this section is disappointing. The second night deviates--we are treated to a well-written story about the Phelps family in Stratford, but the group is given almost no opportunity to discuss it. It is almost as if this work were ...more
Wayne
Sep 08, 2008 Wayne rated it it was ok
It was just two ghost stories, followed by an imaginary discussion of the story by A. Conan Doyl, Harry Houdini, etc. I didn't hear a change of voice as the story teller supossedly changed. The discourse was not what I had expected. It was OK for driving in the desert, I didn't have a replacement. But, I'm glad that I didn't buy the book.
Tasha
Jun 03, 2009 Tasha rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery, dnf
I appreciate that Michaels was trying something different with this novel (which is basically a gathering of Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, and some other people telling stories), but it just didn't work. The book as whole didn't feel cohesive.
Jaime
Nov 29, 2008 Jaime rated it did not like it
This book should go to another world and bother me NO MORE
Mary
Jul 01, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes historical mysteries
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
One foggy evening, the members of the illustrious Society For Psychical Research meet in the smoking room of an exclusive London men's club. Amid the glowing cigars, decanters of brandy, and the charming air of camaraderie, sit men who are the acknowledged geniuses within their various specialties. They are considered some of the most famous crime specialists in the world, and are gathered together with mystery on their minds. On the agenda for tonight's program are two tantalizing, unsolved cas ...more
Kathleen
Jun 16, 2016 Kathleen rated it liked it
Someone on Barnes and Noble called this a "horror cozy," which is a description I kind of love, especially in the context of Other Worlds. This book is a pair of novellas describing two rather famous American poltergeist cases, the (inaccurately named) Bell Witch and the Stratford haunting. The novellas are connected by a frame story, psychic researchers gathered in a London club to discuss these cases. These are some fairly famous people, by the way; Houdini (gratifyingly skeptical), Conan Doyl ...more
Beverly
Jan 17, 2012 Beverly rated it liked it
Shelves: a-supernatural
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Veronikah
Jul 16, 2014 Veronikah rated it did not like it
If someone could please combine this edition and the Portuguese one, I'd appreciate it a lot (PT edition here: Outros Mundos)

Adding the review here too because the edition I read is separated from this one.


You know when a book has an intriguing premise that makes you really interested in it? This was that book. And you know that book that fails miserably to live up to its expectations? This was that book.

Other Worlds has an interesting premise: a few well known men (Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doy
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Nina
Oct 18, 2016 Nina rated it did not like it
I was sort of excited to read this book after having read the synopsis: Famous people from the past (Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name the most prominent) get together to argue alleged hauntings? Sign me up!
So the tale is in two parts. First is the Bell Witch, which is narrated by Harry Houdini and is concise and a "just the facts, ma'am" style of story. It ends, and I use that word loosely, with our group of gentlemen agreeing to disagree about whether the events outlined were the out
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Roger
Nov 13, 2016 Roger rated it did not like it
The late Barbara Michaels (AKA Elizabeth Peters) was a talented writer. I really wanted to like Other Worlds-I am a sucker for any book that features Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle interacting and it is an historic fact that the two men not only knew each other but had a real friendship. Michaels does not do a bad job of handling these two and other real world figures. Other Worlds has as a framing device a meeting between Doyle, Houdini, and other investigators of psychic phenomena. A ...more
Julie
Jul 14, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok
Shelves: gothic
As a huge fan of Barbara Michaels and a collector of her books, there are still some novels I haven't read. This was one of her more recently published novels under the name "Barbara Michaels ". (Most are aware of her pseudonym "Elizabeth Peters)
The premise was interesting, the synopsis promising a good old fashioned ghost story, which I'm always a sucker for.
There is an imaginary "club " that meets to discuss and theorize about famous cases of paranormal phenomena. The members of this club are
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Gloria Piper
Jan 21, 2016 Gloria Piper rated it liked it
As far I can tell, Harry Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and others gather together in the mists of time to analyze two incidents, both of which occur in the mid 1800s.

In the first story, the Bell family find themselves tormented by a spirit (or spirits) that eventually carries on conversations with them. For no apparent reason the spirit treats Mrs. Bell tenderly but drives Mr. Bell to his death.

In the second story, a widow with children marries Mr. Phelps, a minister who dabbles in the occu
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Ginia
May 01, 2009 Ginia rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Audrey Stephens
Nov 05, 2013 Audrey Stephens rated it liked it
I have been delving into Barbara Michaels lately as she (Barbara Mertz) just died this fall and I had been an avid follower of her Amelia Peabody stories (written as Elizabeth Peters. This is the 2nd Barbara Michaels book I have read. She sets a really interesting scene - the gathering of great minds around a fire in a gentleman's club to try to solve past unsolved mysteries - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Dr. Nandor Fodor (psychoanalyst) and others. They pose several cases, both involv ...more
Jeri
Sep 26, 2010 Jeri rated it it was ok
The stories are not without interest, but OTHER WORLDS will likely disappoint many Barbara Michaels fans. It lacks her trademarks of likable, sympathetic characters, plus both the romance and the personal, almost intimate, feeling of suspense. The interest in these stories lies solely in the puzzles they present; the human element is almost entirely absent.

These stories reminded me of the outline of a Barbara Michaels novel, the part where the characters, after research, begin to piece together
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Jenn Estepp
Disappointing. Some dudes (mostly), some famous, some not, get together in a smoky old-school clubs and recount two classic American haunting stories to each other. One I'd heard of (the Bell Witch), one not (Phelps Mansion in Connecticut). Afterwards, they offer various theories as to what might explain the events. I guess I was expecting it more to be like when Christie does it - only those are mysteries, as opposed to ghost stories, so there is a definitive answer that Poirot can suss out. He ...more
Barbm1020
Aug 29, 2015 Barbm1020 rated it really liked it
This book is a review of two famous "poltergeist" cases from the 19th century. A fantasy symposium of well-known writers from the past, who wrote about seemingly paranormal occurrences, discuss the cases after they are presented (at great length) by those who witnessed the strange happenings. It's not bad for a primer on different historical approaches to investigating ghostly raps, objects apparently moving on their own, and disembodied voices. I found the second case very tedious, although it' ...more
Chris
Aug 09, 2012 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Turns out I read this book 3 years ago & completely forgot & also missed it was in my "Read" section. I need to do some research on who all the characters are because it appears they are real people (I know for sure 2 of them are). Maybe if I knew who all of them were beforehand it would have been more interesting. I don't know that I enjoyed it as much this time because the stories seemed so familiar, yet I couldn't remember how they ended so I had to keep reading and then wasn't all th ...more
Christina Startt
Jul 26, 2015 Christina Startt rated it liked it
Shelves: mpm
This book was a bit difficult to get through, in part because it is so different from all the other Barbara Michaels books I've read so far. I did learn that it was a project that she began early in her career and then revisited much later, which explains why it's so drastically different in execution.

The part that I adored about part two of this book is that Jaqueline Kirby, one of the author's Elizabeth Peters characters, makes an appearance. I was pleased that I was able to identify her even
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Laura
Dec 22, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it
This was definitely different than Michaels/Peters's other books, but I enjoyed it. I thought the ghost stories were presented in an interesting way, and in some ways it was nice to not have romance mixing with the haunting as it usually does in the Barbara Michaels book. I did like the first story a lot more than the second, partially because Phelps just seemed so creepy and awful that it was hard for me to get emotionally invested in his haunting since I was so invested in not liking him!
Becca
Feb 12, 2012 Becca rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, 2012
Interesting "club" murder mystery plot where famous historical figure ( Conan doyle, Houdini ) meet to discuss a mystery or tale of the supernatural and then alive their scouting to it. Michaels does a great job of representing those figures and their viewpoint believably. Plus she puts herself in as a character which I find delightful! There is no path and dry solution to the cases but enjoyable non the less.
Jean
Feb 05, 2016 Jean rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. The concept of a club to explore paranormal cases was good. However, the two cases were too similar and weren't that interesting to me.

I think if you enjoy ghost stories or paranormal history, you might like this book. I think many fans of Barbara Michaels will not find what they are looking for.
Dee
Aug 13, 2013 Dee rated it did not like it
Read it & was bored speechless. In the light of Dr. Michael's death, I chose a book outside the "Amelias"...and boy was I sorry. A tedious dissection on American "ghost stories", or paranormal folklore, which should be skipped by all, with the exception of those with entirely too much time on their hands.
Jill
Aug 21, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ghost hunters
I love ghost stories, they facinate me. this was 2 very good different haunting episodes that was being discussed by dr's of science and illusionist including the very famous houdine( spelling?). Trying to find logical solutions to the paranormal activities. it was well written and kept my attention good.
K
Sep 29, 2013 K rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
expected a gothic mystery. instead read like 2 short stories about ghosts and poltergists in the 1850s, with famous names--like Houdini freud, holmes all discussing the hows and whys. very boing, not cohesive, not really tied up at the end, just ended, but I was very glad it was done. maybe BM was trying out a new style, glad it didn't stick.
Sharon
Oct 16, 2012 Sharon rated it liked it
Not the best of her supernatural suspense stories. Interesting theme with famous people doing "cold case" reviews of supernatural happenings from the past, but there is no real resolution of any of the cases. Each expert gives their opinion and while one seems to be more logical than the others, it is left to the reader to decide.
JB
Feb 26, 2016 JB rated it liked it
Not the typical Barbara Michaels book. Entails a group of friends sitting around discussing and debunking a few old ghost stories that many would recognize like the Bell Witch. It is entertaining and well written, but fails to really engross the reader and bring you into the author's created world. It's just two well told spooky tales.
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Barbara Michaels was a pen name of Barbara Mertz. She also wrote as Elizabeth Peters, as well as under her own name.

She was born in Canton, Illinois and has written over fifty books including some in Egyptology. Dr. Mertz also holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Egyptology.
More about Barbara Michaels...

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