BOOK REVIEW: The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales
Written by Robert Damon Schneck
Published by TarcherPerigee
The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales by Robert Damon Schneck is the retelling of true, unexplained events from across America. From aliens and mummies to phantoms and even vampires, these stories run the gamut.
Laid out in the same format as most of the “strange-but-true” books many of us read as children, Schneck details each event and then dives into the deep end, trying to tease out the truth. The research and dedication put into this book is truly astounding.
In his wonderful introduction, the author details what drove him to create such a well-documented book and why he chose the format he did. After reading it, I was pumped to set eyes on the first chapter. A few pages into that, and I was beginning to feel disappointed. The story was dry; and although it must have been terrifying for those involved in yea-olden-times, being a modern gal, I found it a bit yawn-worthy.
I’m glad I powered through the first chapter and dove into the next because from there things got interesting. Each story is so well-researched by Schneck that there’s a wealth of information to go along with what would otherwise be old wives’ tales and hearsay. What’s so great about this is, regardless if the events actually happened as witnesses thought, its easy to see how they came to their conclusions (even if our own—and Schneck’s—are different).
This novel was originally named after “The President’s Vampire,” one of my favorite stories in the book. In it a man who is thought to be an actual vampire is pardoned by the President of the United States. What’s so fun about this one is that it did actually and unequivocally happen. Although Schneck ultimately comes to the conclusion, of course, that a real vampire was not involved, the events and circumstances are endlessly fascinating.
Another great story, and most definitely the creepiest of all, is the novel’s current namesake, “The Bye Bye Man.” The events of the story are claimed to have happened to a friend of the author, and it certainly fits in with the m.o. of this compilation. To me, just this one story is worth reading the entire book.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of “The Bye Bye Man” story is the terrifying homunculus named Gloomsinger. (Really, how could it be named anything else?!?) I won’t spoil it for you, but needless to say, I can see why a movie was made from this one.
Perhaps I have a soft spot in my heart for this type of thing, having grown up on just the kind of stories Schneck tries to emulate here, but The Bye Bye Man is worth the read. Whether you’re trying to freak yourself out or are truly interested in the historic significance of many of these unexplained events, this one has it all.
I wrote and published this review originally for Dread Central. See the original post here.