In their first book, Lynne and Shawn Mitchell took you through a gorgeous and macabre world of Halloween prop-building to haunt your house. How to Haunt Your House, Book Two, I’m happy to say, is not a rehash of their first book, but a worthy companion that ambitiously expands on their haunting tutorials, while easily standing on its own with all new projects, styles and techniques, all presented in clear, glossy photos and instructions.
In their “dead”ication, the authors pay enthusiastic homage to all the things that go bump in the night. I can easily imagine being one their neighbors as summer begins to morph into autumn … “Strange lights are often spotted in the late, night hours and the occasional, stray sounds of owls, hissing cats and long, drawn-out cries of wolves will be heard echoing down the driveway.” This successfully sets the tone for the lush and gothic world we are about to enter, and the shadows cast by their props begin to look just a little bit too alive … an effect we can produce by following their inspiring examples.
And what should we except from this book? Well, how about a full tutorial on building (and deconstructing for storage) an entire scale model gothic mausoleum, complete with an old, rusty wrought-iron gate? Hard to believe it’s all achieved with wood frames, Styrofoam and PVC pipe! Stock your kitchen with apothecary jars full of strange, glowing liquids filled with creatures you can almost (but not quite) recognize. Construct huge gargoyle columns, fashion a complete crypt that doubles as a hide-away for your electronic components, create foggy, bubbling cauldrons and turn store-bought props and mannequins into ghoulish hags and decapitated brides.
If that’s not enough, Lynne and Shawn devote a large section of their book on animated props. Using clear and detailed images, they show you the components you need, types of motors and connections, and suggested power supplies. Step-by-step, they take you through two motorized projects, one of a monster churning a pot by hand, and an undead creature turning its head in a cemetery. I would love to see videos of these completed projects on their website!
A book on building and designing props would certainly be fulfilling, but all of these projects are unified with chapters on how to present an enthralling entrance, inside decor (with tips on lighting and accessories), and images and layout tips for a fully-stocked cemetery.
I am astonished with their creativity, attention to detail, and willingness to peel back the moth-eaten curtains to teach you how everything is done. It’s presented with lush, full-page images and eerie backgrounds to keep with the mood. This book proudly stands with their first volume, and I’ll need to build an inspiring gothic bookcase to house them!