What a dizzying array of approaches he commands — theological, historical, cultural, aesthetic and psychological. All but the downright molecular. Braudy explores the genuinely creepy and unsettling aspects of the liminal as embodied by a human or humanoid figure ... Though these definitions are de facto porous and at times overlapping, Braudy is deft and comprehensive, a veritable Linnaeus of the underworldly oversoul ... If this scholar writes densely, he also has a kangaroo capacity for crossing huge distances at a bound, moving with equal zest and confidence among biblical, classical, medieval, Enlightenment and Hollywood figures and conceits ... Braudy lays out a mosaic of pieces to instruct and, yes, delight us, but which particular piece might remain to bedevil a solitary reader when the book is closed — ah, in the unspeakable answer to such a private question lies the truth of being haunted. We never know what can get to us until it happens.
...if you appreciate thoughtful and scholarly reads, Leo Braudy’s Haunted will likely thrill and not disappoint. Braudy pays off the fetching promise of the book’s subtitle with erudite insights spanning the last three centuries in the life of a persistent literary and cultural phenomenon ... Braudy’s ease and insight in discussing the cinematic exemplars he brings forward in Haunted are highlights of the latter sections of the book ... Braudy scatters impressive insights with authorial abandon across scores of focal points, literary and cultural, during his chosen period ... For the casual reader, though, it may make sense to approach Haunted as an index-driven read rather than a cover-to-cover undertaking. Although wondrously well written, the book is dense with detail, which could prove frustrating for some, however strong their interest in the topic.
...while this digression into the world of the detective doesn’t fit with the book’s other chapters per se, it does set up Braudy to move into his next archetype: the doppelgänger, the monster who is by definition Janus-faced. The doppelgänger is both monster and detective together in the same body ... At some point, inevitably, these beasts begin to blur and the distinctions strain, given Braudy’s ability to marshal so many different examples and draw so many conclusions from each. If anything, one wants more of Haunted...Each of Braudy’s monsters is fascinating in its own right, and each might have warranted its own book, or at least a longer section in this one. But what we do have is filled with various nuggets of insight that reflect Braudy’s acumen with close readings.