Cursed Objects: Strange but True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items

Cursed Objects: Strange but True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items

by J. W. Ocker

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Overview

Beware...this book is cursed! These strange but true stories of the world’s most infamous items will appeal to true believers as well as history buffs, horror fans, and anyone who loves a good spine-tingling tale. 

They’re lurking in museums, graveyards, and private homes. Their often tragic and always bizarre stories have inspired countless horror movies, reality TV shows, novels, and campfire tales. They’re cursed objects, and all they need to unleash a wave of misfortune is . . . you. 

Many of these unfortunate items have intersected with some of the most notable events and people in history, leaving death and destruction in their wake. But never before have the true stories of these eerie oddities been compiled into a fascinating and chilling volume. Inside, readers will learn about:

   • Annabelle the Doll, a Raggedy Ann doll that featured in the horror franchise The Conjuring
   • The Unlucky Mummy, which is rumored to have sunk the Titanic and kick-started World War I  
   • The Dybbuk box, which was sold on eBay and spawned the horror film The Possession 
   • The Conjured Chest, which has been blamed for fifteen deaths within a single family 
   • The Ring of Silvianus, a Roman artifact believed to have inspired J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit   
   • And many more! 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This book is so fun that I couldn't put it down. It reminded me that life is short, death is nigh and a little humor can help us seize the day just as well as a memento mori.”—The New York Times

“A visual feast of a book...this eye-catching miscellany is perfect for anyone who wants a treasure chest of weird trivia to peruse.”—Bustle

“Well researched....The entry about the Black Aggie statue in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland, is especially chilling….The only question that remains is, who is courageous enough to brave the myriad scary (and true) stories within?”—Memphis Flyer

“I loved J. W. Ocker's Cursed Objects! This cabinet of cursed curiosities is insanely entertaining and dangerously informative, but be forewarned: you may be cursed with reading it late into the night once you open it.”—Lisa Morton, author of Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances and Ghosts: A Haunted History

“A deliciously scary and entertaining look into the spooky stuff of nightmares. Through rich histories, adorably macabre illustrations, and a modicum of hilarity, this book will entrance readers until the last page—if you survive that long!”—Lydia Kang, author of Quackery

“You don't have to believe in magic to love the stories surrounding these cursed objects. From weresheep, to frozen mummies, to my favorite — the chapters on horrifying objects that have no right to NOT be cursed, J. W. Ocker's Cursed Objects is a delightful overview of all things cursed.”—Dylan Thuras, co-founder of Atlas Obscura

“A perfect tome for Halloween."—Hollywood Soapbox

“Anyone who shares a smidge of his passion for the peculiar will want to buy a copy for themselves and one to give away.”—New Hampshire Magazine

“An inherently fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover.”Midwest Book Review

“A fun read that doubles as a jumping off point for those who either want to just enjoy a good story or discover something new to research more in depth.”—FangirlNation

Library Journal

12/01/2020

Ocker (A Season with the Witch) collects tales of objects associated with "misfortune, harm, or death." Among the chapters are "Cursed in the Graveyard" (the Tomb of Timur), "Cursed in the Attic" (Rudolph Valentino's ring, the Crying Boy paintings), "Cursed Under Glass" (Ötzi the Iceman), and, most intriguing, "Why Aren't These Objects Cursed?" Ocker peppers the narrative with qualifiers including "some say," "perhaps," "might just be," and "stories circulated." VERDICT Skeptics will remain unconvinced, but many will enjoy reading about the Hope diamond, Shakespeare's grave, and whether it is safe to ignore a chain letter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683692362
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Publication date: 09/15/2020
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 129,016
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Headfirst into the Accursed

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but many seemingly innocuous objects will make your life suck. They might even kill you. We call these objects cursed. A cursed object could be a vase, a chair, a painting, a doll: things we all have around our houses, in our attics and basements. They could be in museums, separated from the general populace by a thin piece of glass. They could be out in the open — masquerading as ordinary statues or rocks, for instance. Anything can be cursed, and you rarely know until it’s too late. Good thing you have this book to help you.
     So what is a cursed object? In lore, it’s an inanimate item that brings misfortune, harm, or death to its owners or those with whom it comes in contact. An object can become cursed because someone with powerful and mystical knowledge hexes it. Or it could have been present at a scene of great tragedy, absorbing dark energy like a battery and powering other tragedies going forward. It could be inherently evil from the start, all the way down to its MADE IN CHINA sticker. Or it could all just be in our heads.
     You don’t have to believe in cursed objects to be fascinated by them. Because another, less paranormal definition of a cursed object is an object that gathers stories to itself — and more specifically, tragedies. Objects are intimately connected to people. We make them, live with them, use them, love them, and are sometimes even buried with them, and people continuously find themselves in the midst of tragedy. Cursed objects are those items that have simply been the mute witnesses to more tragedies than other items. They then become devices for remembering those stories and provide opportunities for retelling them.
     And don’t get me wrong. There’s magic in that, too: that a simple oak chair, out of millions of oak chairs in the world, would be connected to so many stories of misfortune and death (see Busby’s Stoop Chair, page 123). The idea that cursed objects operate as storytelling mechanisms for tragedy in culture is at the heart of this book, although that doesn’t mean we won’t have fun with the notion that there might be other, less explainable, and more sinister forces at work.
      In this book, we’ll look at crystal skulls and creepy dolls, tiny stone heads and ancient weapons. We’ll cover the infamous, including Annabelle the Doll (page 173) and the Hope Diamond (page 18), as well as the obscure. Ever heard of the Little Mannie with His Daddy’s Horns (page 134)? Probably not. I’ve risked visiting a few firsthand for you. I even brought one into my home. We’ll dip into the business of cursed objects, where cursed is prized as a marketing term and cursed objects are collected, displayed in museums, and even sold on eBay. We’ll learn that even technology and digital artifacts can be cursed.
     Before we begin, we’ll need to define some terms. Cursed is often used synonymously with haunted and possessed, but these three qualities are distinct. For our purposes, the difference is one of intelligence. Cursed items have none. They’re objects that have become bad luck via someone who has purposefully cursed them or by happenstance. By contrast, a haunted object has a spirit intelligence attached directly to it, and a possessed item is similarly inhabited, in this case by a demonic entity (although some say that an object cannot technically be possessed, only humans can . . . lucky us). Both haunted and possessed objects can function practically as cursed objects if they bring misfortune to enough people, but if they merely act spooky, then they’re not cursed. 
     Take, for instance, the wedding dress of Anna Baker at the Baker Mansion History Museum in Altoona, Pennsylvania, or the haunted mirror at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Both objects are mentioned regularly in articles about cursed items. But stories of the Anna Baker wedding dress mostly involve the dress moving around on its own and the specter of its owner popping up here and there. The haunted mirror at the Myrtles Plantation reflects creepy figures and sometimes appears smudged with ghostly handprints. Both objects are spooky as hell, but neither causes the serial misfortune that a cursed object is supposed to.
     For the purposes of this book, I’ve also ruled out cursed objects without detailed curse stories. For instance, the Villa Zorayda Museum in St. Augustine, Florida, displays an Egyptian rug made entirely out of cat hair that was once wrapped around a mummified human foot (also on display). Some posit that it’s the oldest existing rug. Others posit that it’s cursed and that anyone who steps on the rug will die (hence why the rug is currently hung on a wall). However, its entire curse story was contained in those three sentences. A fascinating object, but difficult to wring a narrative essay out of.
     Now, more than objects can be cursed. People can. Places can. But for the purposes of this journey, I’m interested in objects that are cursed. I generally followed the terrifying maxim, “Could I inadvertently pick it up at a flea market or an antiques store and bring it into my home?” or, “Could I
brush up against it in a museum and be forever damned?” And, with a handful of notable exceptions, that’s exactly what is included in this book.
     So, beware. Because it’s not just ancient artifacts looted from old coffins buried deep in exotic climes that will ruin your life. It could also be the “I Hate Mondays” coffee mug on your desk that your mom bought you at a garage sale.

Customer Reviews