16 February 2021

Review: Life with the Afterlife - 13 Truths I Learned About Ghosts by Amy Bruni with Julie Tremaine

Life with the Afterlife - 13 Truths I Learned About Ghosts by Amy Bruni with Julie Tremaine book cover
* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

Have you ever looked at the title of a book and decided for yourself what it's going to be about? This happened to me when I saw Life With the Afterlife - 13 Truths I Learned About Ghosts by Amy Bruni, host of Kindred Spirits. I began a happy little assumption that being the host of a ghost hunter show like Kindred Spirits, Amy would be a medium or psychic of some sort, and here in her book she'd be sharing the 13 truths she learned from ghosts. Sound reasonable enough? Well, that's the book I wanted to read so I requested it from the publisher.

I've never watched an episode of Kindred Spirits, although from what Amy shares with the reader in her book, it's different from other ghost hunter books in that the hosts try to help those they come into contact with. Home owners are often disappointed to find their house isn't haunted and a lot of research takes place to determine the history of a house and who might be disturbing the peace.

You certainly don't need to be a Kindred Spirits fan or have watched the show in order to understand the contents of this book, however I do think the book is better suited to viewers of the program.

Amy Bruni saw her first ghost when she was a kid, but her skills as a paranormal investigator are what she draws on to do her work. She's not a medium or psychic and instead invites people like Chip Coffey on to her show when she needs a little additional insight.

Amy Bruni isn't like Debbie Malone, Belinda Davidson, Lisa Williams, and more whose books I've read and reviewed here on Carpe Librum over the years. If I'd read the blurb of this book properly and paid more attention to the actual title - not the title I wanted to see - this would have been clear to me from the get go.

Now that we've established my faults as a reader going into this, there were a few problems I encountered with the writing. Amy Bruni has written Life With the Afterlife with the help of Julie Tremaine, presumably because writing a book isn't her forte. However even with this expert assistance, the content of the book is disorganised, a little all over the place and repetitive in parts. Here's an example.
"The building, erected in 1892, had been a bank until it was converted into a restaurant in the late 1970s. Mike the owner of the Twisted Vine, had given us some items associated with the bank. Later on that day, when we used a banknote as a trigger object, Sam told us that he recognized the paperwork. From there, we were able to find a Samuel Lesseey, a longtime employee of what used to be Birmingham National Bank, who took his life in the building in November 1913. Lesseey had been tied to a theft there: A customer had modified a twenty-five-dollar check to pay out $2,500. The shame of the mistake and the ensuing scandal are believed to have led him to commit suicide. He walked to a local cemetary, laid down in a coffin box in a mausoleum, and shot himself in the head. The story spread as far as the West Coast, showing up in the Los Angeles Herald, albeit with his name spelled as "Lessep" and "Lessey" in the story." Page 226
This is the sort of investigation I enjoy reading about, but did Lessey take his life in the bank or at a cemetary? The story is either poorly written allowing for two interpretations or contains conflicting accounts of what happened to Lesseey.

The structure of the book around the 13 truths also made for a disjointed reading experience and allowed for repetition of places visited and cases worked.

The best part of the book came in the final few pages as Bruni shared her thoughts on the ways in which the current COVID pandemic might impact the world. She points out that major global events have resulted in a surge of spiritualism in the past, and I've been interested in that topic before, reviewing Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry in 2017. The author goes on to mention that people have been spending more time in their homes and are perhaps becoming aware of activity they were too busy to take notice of before. She also comments that some of the activity might be spiking as a result of the increased levels of fear and anxiety many of us are experiencing, not to mention the grief at losing loved ones.

Bruni is absolutely right that people have suffered and died alone of the Coronavirus. Loved ones haven't been able to say goodbye and we haven't been able to come together and grieve the way we used to. All of this has to have some kind of impact on us; whether this is an increase in death awareness, or a surge in spiritualism, I don't know. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. I do love paranormal/ghost shows but Kindred Sprits isn’t a favourite. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    1. Thanks Shelleyrae, this one was tough to review but I hope you got that it was equally my fault.


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