Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Magic Island” as Want to Read:
The Magic Island
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Magic Island

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  14 reviews
1929. The author's West Indian mail boat lay at anchor in a tropical green gulf. At the water's edge, lit by sunset, sprawled the town of Cap Haitien. Among the modern structures were the wrecked mansions of the 16th century French colonials who imported slaves from Africa and made Haiti the richest colony in the western hemisphere. In the ruins was the palace built for ...more
Paperback, 350 pages
Published May 28th 1968 by Lancer (first published 1929)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Magic Island, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Magic Island

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  117 ratings  ·  14 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Magic Island
Malini Sridharan
The Magic Island supposedly introduced the zombie to the west, which is why I decided to read it.

The early zombie flicks definitely reflect the racial tension and American paternalism of Seabrook's travelogue. There is weird mix of disregard and respect for Haitians in his tone. The illustrations are horribly racist, so much so that I had to fold the pages because I felt really gross for looking at them. Seabrook supports the idea of overall white superiority and condescends to black Haitians.
...more
David
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Written in 1929, this is a remarkably unbiased account of the author's experiences in Haiti. Ranging from Voodoo rituals to cock fights to mountain hikes, he treats the Haitian people with credibility and respect. The Americans - occupying the island following the assassination of their President in 1915 - are not portrayed in a particularly complimentary (but probably accurate) light. Very entertaining and enlightening. Well worth reading, if only to gain historical perspective.
Dave Leichter
Apr 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Unlike vampire movies, which can all be said to owe their existence to the novel Dracula, there never was one major zombie novel. However, this book was very influential, and inspired many early zombie films, such as White Zombie (starring Bela Lugosi). Exactly how accurate the book is, is a separate issue.
Annabelle Higgins
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
La edición que leí en español es la de Valdemar que se titula "La isla mágica. Un viaje al corazón del vudú", y creo que es importante decir que sólo una parte del libro hace referencia al vudú y sus ceremonias. El libro es en realidad el relato del autor de su experiencia viviendo una temporada en Haití, así que no habla sólo de religión y creencias y ceremonias relacionadas a éstas, sino también de las costumbres de la gente, su gobierno, política, su relación con los estadounidenses, etc.
Si
...more
Leina'ala
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was essentially Seabrook's journal during his time in Haiti that he later published. I enjoyed that it focused a lot on his discovery and experience with Vodou/Voodoo- it felt like I was discovering with him.

Important note: This book was written in 1929 by an American author. Keep in mind that Jim Crow laws are in place and lynching is widely accepted in the United States. Seabrook does have at times a "white saviorist" tone and pats himself on the back for not being aggressively
...more
David
If you are looking for the source of the modern zombie obsession this is it. However, this book is more travelogue than zombie manifesto. The section about zombies in the book is very small.

Seabrook's book though published in 1929 so it's interesting to see how progressive he is in dealing with the Haiti/USA narrative -- readers on the Left may be pleasantly surprised. Though some of the language would be considered problematic today at the time it would have been noted as culturally sensitive.
...more
Aaron Meyer
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: occult
This is a really good book if you are in to travel literature type stuff. The book covers a long trip to Haiti by Mr. Seabrook and his various adventures upon the island. In the first part of the book you get alot of good first had account of voodoo rituals and songs. In the second major part of the book you get the rest of his adventures throughout the island with a variety of people American and Haitian with stories which cover politics, history, and just everyday life. Nothing in the book is ...more
Aaron the Pink Donut
I have read a number of editions of this book. This edition doesnt have the photos (quite interesting) or the horrifically racist illustrations of the late 20s and early 30s editions. The book has also has been reprinted a number of times under several different titles (jungle magic..Etc). The major flaw with this book is the inherently racist slate and its leanings on the sensational. A great read but take the anthropology information with a grain of salt. This is not a definitive text or even ...more
Aaron the Pink Donut
I have read a number of editions of this book. This edition doesnt have the photos (quite interesting) or the horrifically racist illustrations of the late 20s and early 30s editions. The book has also has been reprinted a number of times under several different titles (jungle magic..Etc). The major flaw with this book is the inherently racist slate and its leanings on the sensational. A great read but take the anthropology information with a grain of salt. This is not a definitive text or even ...more
cs
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book at a library book sale and was delighted to read about the author's descriptions of a little-written-about part of the world during the 1920s. I wouldn't judge it on it's "political correctness" as the term didn't even exist in the 1920's (did it??). What's fascinating is the idea that this book introduced the concept of zombies to western culture! Think about that next time you watch Walking Dead. The author himself was a fascinatingly bizarre character who tragically ended up ...more
Alexandra
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
An enjoyable and engaging read about Haiti in the 1920's. Some of the essays are more realistic, some sensationalistic, calling into question the reliability of the account, despite the author's repeated claims that they are true. Less sensationalistic than many other books on Voudou. Contains exciting travel, political and adventure writing. Seabrook veers far off the political correctness trail, but it could have been much worse for 1929. Appalling illustrations.
Marcy Reiz
Nov 18, 2009 marked it as to-read
Shelves: books-i-own
I have the 1929 edition of this book (recently acquired...it was my great-grandfather's) and it definitely has some very interesting illustrations.. can't wait to read it
Randy
Jul 08, 2008 is currently reading it
Seabrook introduces a new word to the English language: "zombie".
Purple Iris
Nov 25, 2010 marked it as to-read
I am not looking forward to reading this, but probably should as I begin the whole revision process. I'm sure there will be a review!
Ll
rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2016
Mikkel
rated it liked it
Feb 20, 2020
David López
rated it really liked it
Aug 26, 2010
Mona Randall
rated it liked it
Jul 23, 2015
Kai Weber
rated it really liked it
Apr 26, 2012
Mark Mirabello
rated it liked it
Dec 22, 2009
Raúl
rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2020
Emily
rated it really liked it
Aug 08, 2010
Asan Adil
rated it really liked it
Dec 31, 2016
Renee
rated it it was ok
May 25, 2016
Steve_long
rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2013
Spencer
rated it liked it
Jan 20, 2015
Rebecca Babcock
rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2012
Joanne Robert
rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2020
María
rated it it was amazing
Aug 15, 2017
Kameelah Martin
rated it really liked it
Jul 04, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Serpent and the Rainbow
  • Au revoir là-haut
  • Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer
  • Beyond Time: Classic Tales of Time Unwound (British Library Science Fiction Classics)
  • Naked Lunch
  • Roadside Picnic
  • Out of the Deep: And Other Supernatural Tales
  • The Occult Mind
  • Created, the Destroyer (The Destroyer, #1)
  • The Weird and the Eerie
  • Infinite Jest
  • The Passion
  • The Travels
  • The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of the Deceptive Art
  • Vathek and Other Stories
  • The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
  • Swann's Way
See similar books…
William Buehler Seabrook was a journalist and explorer whose interest in the occult lead him across the globe where he studied magic rituals, trained as a witch doctor, and famously ate human flesh, likening it to veal. Despite his studious accounts of magical practices, he insisted he had never seen anything which could not be explained rationally.

His book on witchcraft is notable for its
...more

Related Articles

  Whether you love the horror genre or just tiptoe into it ahead of Halloween, we have book picks for every level of scared you want to...
433 likes · 282 comments