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on 26 September 2014
This fictional gothic romp is best approached as a guilty pleasure i.e. as a bit of hammy horror escapism if you ever decide to take a punt. Certainly compared to Stoker's Dracula (or Dennis Wheatley's various works - another obvious 'influence'), Manchester's modern update falls somewhat short of these authors' classics.

On a more serious note, the author has claimed that this book is a totally factual account of two encounters with the supernatural in Highgate; all of which I'm sure was considered to be a clever sales gimmick at the time of publishing. But on closer inspection it fails to hold any weight with the discerning reader. Certainly no independent or credible witnesses have come forward to corroborate his story in any shape or form. Something the serious paranormal investigator really needs to bear in mind before using this book as a starting point for background research into either vampirism in general or the Highgate Vampire case specifically.

So a very generous 6 out of 10 from me.

Redmond McWilliams.

Founder of 'The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society' (genuine) facebook group:

Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thcvas/
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on 18 November 2000
Many would shrink from the conclusion that we might live unwittingly amidst a hidden manichaean struggle between good and evil, but if Sean Manchster is to be believed this is indubitably so. The book describes Manchester's pursuit and destruction of two vampires, whose presence had become apparent from atacks that had gravitated from animals to humans, and takes place mostly in the early 1970's. The prose is sometimes redolent of the meticulous, complex style of the C19th, and many of the scenes are gripping and highly evocative of the fear that the vampire hunter and his cohorts must have felt. The conclusion of the book is elegiac and poignant; the protagonists' personal tragedies sound echoes in us all. The Highgate Vampire contains elements of Dracula and even, it must be said, the popular works of Dennis Wheatley, confirming many traditional beliefs about the undead. In that respect it is the vindication of Montague Summers. The book also inveighs in a timely fashion against an unhealthy subculture that has grown up around the concept of the vampire, a theme that has complex social causes. It is indeed strange, but this tale of a vampire and the nimbus of evil it spread serves to highlight by means of contrast the existence and efficacy of the powers of good.
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on 1 July 2002
Author Sean Manchester is an interesting bloke, a Catholic priest of the Apostolic Church of Holy Grail who hunts vampires and is related to the literary giant Lord Byron. He even has some of Byron's romantic sensibilities and literary talent.
I was reading Highgate Vampire in the middle of the night alone and I began to hear every creak in the building and was looking over my shoulder for any sinister entities. Fictional horror accounts don't interest as much as one's that claim to be possibly real. This account seems real with all the newspaper accounts of the Highgate Vampire referred to in the book. Sometimes the account had a fictional feel to it, although I don't necessarily think that Manchester is stretching the truth.
The writing was fairly well done, although the account halfway is a factual investigation and halfway a gothic tale based on reality. If it would have been one or the other, I think the effect of the book would have been stronger. If it were wholly an investigation into the reality of vampires, it would have had more depth analytically. If it were a tale based on real events, it would have had more literary merit.
I thought it was a fascinating account since previously I thought vampires were just legend, but Manchester claims that they are something close to a familiar demonic spirit, which can act just like a previously alive person, but in reality is not the true spirit of that person.
Manchester offers information on how to handle vampires, (bring your holy water, incense, salt, garlic and silver crosses. It helps if your Catholic.) He warns though that amateur vampire hunters should not get involved unless they know a lot about hunting vampires first. Manchester talks about how a vampire must have a stake driven through its heart so that it will not keep biting victims and creating more potential undead.
Manchester has to deal with those who have taken the "left hand path", and deny the existence of vampires knowing full well that they exist, but wish to deceive the public into thinking that there is nothing to worry about, so they can continue their black arts.
Manchester is something of a atavistic romantic, hearkening back to the Middle Ages when people believed in vampires and had effective methods of dealing with them. He deplores this modern materialistic age that attempts to dismiss vampires as superstition when actually they can still exist and 'scientific types' are ignorant of the ways on how to deal with vampire epidemics. Such mysteries are hard for science to explain.
This is a good book for those wishing to explore the mystery of evil without getting caught up into the destructive lifestyle of the occult. A vampire, Manchester says, is a phenomenon that mocks the resurrection of Christ and his believers, giving a false, twilight life to a vampire that feeds on the blood of the living, rather than having received eternal life by the blood and crucifixion of Christ.
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on 14 November 2006
Bishop Sean Manchester of the "Old Catholic" (not Roman Catholic) Church is an exorcist and latter-day vampire-hunter. In "The Highate Vampire" he sets out to document the famous haunting in the late 1960s and early 1970s of Highate Cemetary, which has been variously attributed to ghosts, vampires, satanists and a plethora of other phenomena. The main pieces of evidence amassed fall roughly into three categories. The first, the numerous eye-witness sightings of shadowy figures, with or without demonic faces, standing by the disused North Gate of Highate Cemetary along the 14th Century Swains Lane road in Highate. The second, the two cases the author was involved in himself, that of the mysterious illnesses of two Highate girls, their sleepwalking (invariably endng up on Swains Lane or in the cemetary), aenemia and puncture-wound injuries. Finally, during the same period of time, the predatory deaths of a large number of foxes in the cemetary and ultimately the presence of human corpses, including one decapitated.

Both the police and the press were highly involved in investiagting the events and the author was heavily involved with both. Whether supernatural explainations offered were valid or not, the reality of the deaths and the stream of eyewitness reports from frightened members of the public were enough to warrant a serious investigation, and made the Highate case one of the most famous in the world. On a negative side it encouraged all sorts of amateur vampire-hunters to scale walls and desecrate tombs in their search for the Undead.

Manchester begins with a general look at misconceptions in "vampirology"; looking at medical/physiological and psychological conditions, including porphyria, lycanthropy, psychoses, vampire cults and satanism. Rather unfortunately, Manchester is heavily inspired by the late Rev. Montague Summers, whose books on witchcraft and so-called black magic I have always found prejudiced, archaic and uninformed.

The thing that struck me about this book most is the fact that despite being a non-fictional reportage of events and commentary, Manchester relates the report - including interviews and conversations - in a Hammer-esque melodramatic prose. I found this quite baffling, unless all the people involved in the case were thespians. It is clear that despite being serious about his vampirology, Bishop Manchester also loves it; his reports do indeed read like Hammer Horror stories, with him as Dr Van Helsing with his stakes and garlic; and the two girls he was trying to save running out into graveyards at night time in white smocks.

So then what do we make of Bishop Sean Manchester, who to be honest is pivotal to the whole Highate case - is he a nutter with a van-Helsing delusion, preying on the imaginations and fears of young girls ... or is he a genuine but somewhat eccentric (he is after all a descendant of Byron)vampire hunter, in the ilk of the protagonist of the "Fright Night" movies, rather than a real-life Buffy?

Reading his dialogue, one is tempted to think the former, though the rather nasty evidence displayed in photographs (in the first edition; in subsequent editions Manchester has had these replaced by line drawings) and media reports does show that during this time Highate was not a safe place to be, for whatever ultimate reason. As an example, I am not sure at all that the decapitated victim was a victim of vampirism - I am more worried that she may have been the victim of some deluded amateur vampire hunter.

Nevertheless, whether one believes or does not believe that a satanic vampiric force haunted Highate, you can't help but thoroughly enjoy this book. Essentially a factual report - if written-up in high melodrama - on a subject that is difficult to believe and yet compellingly fascinating, "The Highate Vampire" is a collectable tome for any Fortean's bookshelf.
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VINE VOICEon 8 October 2003
Despite this book's fascinating account of a 'true to life' battle of good and evil, my opinion is that it's realistic aura fluctuates. To begin with, this book will chill you to the bone, the accounts of witnesses and the black and white stills really feel powerful and you will be drawn into the self-argument of believing or not believing, but there are a few downers here....
Further into the book the dialogue quoted by the author as conversation does not resemble what you would find in a one to one situation, and is expressed more as a boastful flow of Catholic knowledge.
Also, this author uses reviews from other periodicals and newspapers, which is great for the best part of evidence and research. However, when quoting articles from an item such as the Weekly World News - which is known for its stories on 'Batchild', and the 'talking, decapitated head of Abraham Lincoln'- one must question it's place in what is supposed to be a final memoir of a serious and disturbing memory.
No disrespect, this is a good read, but if like me you were looking to further your interest in the subject or prefer knowledge over fiction, this book will read to you like a stereotypical Hammer Horror script.
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on 10 January 2014
The fact that Sean Manchester expects people to believe this actually happened is a testament to his delusion. The book is nothing more than a thinly disguised copy of Dracula with some Dennis Wheatley thrown in. Don't be fooled into buying this tripe....stick with the Bram Stoker version..it's far more entertaining and not just written to boost the authors massive ego and line his pockets with others hard earned cash...
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on 27 January 2009
The problem with Sean Manchester's writings on the so-called Highgate Vampire story is that they tend to be somewhat lurid, perhaps even sensationalist. They assume supernatural occurrences, when Occam's Razor suggests that we should consider more rational explanations.

There are other versions of the events of several decades ago which are somewhat more down-to-earth -- and perhaps rather more believable.
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on 15 May 2006
I recommend everyone interested in vampires to read this book. You'll be looking for a crucifix to keep around (maybe even two if you're like me!)and your lamp will probably be staying on all night for a while aswell.

Bishop Sean Manchester has more than the credentials of a true vampirologist and let's face it if the Highgate Vampire is only one case in our history we certainly need his invaluable knowledge and experience to deal with them. There are dark worshippers in our society. Their black magic in & around the cemetery being very significant to the case of the Highgate Vampire.

After reading this you'll have those doubts but there's something about truth being told, no matter how it's spoken or communicated that rings true. It just does'nt let you go.

For further reading I'd recommend Beyond the Highgate Vampire by David Farrant. For an in depth study of vampire lore the books of Montague Summers.
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on 26 December 2010
Dear Readers,

The High gate Vampire book by Sean Manchester apparently outlining his adventures dealing with a so called undead blood-sucking vampire in the high gate cemetery is an insult to any ones intelligence.

If you really think that this so called investigator encountered a real vampire, such as the kind that jumped into existence from the pages of Bram stoker, you need your head examined...this is a poor attempt in suckering in the foolish and deluded.

There is "something" at high gate worthy of real investigation, a something, perhaps a ghost but not a...I'm trying not to laugh when I'm typing this... a vampire...oh come on give me a break Mr Manchester, anyone with half a brain can see what you are up to!!!!!!

You should look into the real investigator of the high-gate phenomenon, David farrant, not this other joker. save your money.
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on 25 January 2016
I purchased this book to get more facts about the true incident that was the Highgate Vampire. Instead the author has taken reports and woven them into a badly written novel that makes Dennis Wheatley look like Frans Kafka. Half the book is taken up with the authors vitriol against people and reports that he seems to have a personal grudge against and photos from the earlier edition are gone and have been replaced with some third rate hippie artwork. UTTER DRIVEL
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