There is no doubting the passion the Lee Brickley holds for the paranormal legacy of Cannock Chase, but after reading his recent book one wonders to what cost he holds that passion. Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, is a location that many with an interest in the paranormal will be familiar with. I certainly have been interested in the place since I was a teenager and have always been intrigued by the modern day werewolf sightings reported there, so when Brickley released his book ‘UFOs, Werewolves & The Pig-Man – Exposing England’s strangest location, Cannock Chase’ I was quite excited.
The book begins with a brief look at some of the weird historic highlights of Cannock Chase and then in the following chapters breaks down the weird happenings in the area into categories such as ‘Alien encounters’, ‘Wild Beasts’, ‘Legend of the Pig Man’, ‘Ghostly Goings on’ and ‘Top Secret Military Activity’. However, as soon as I began to read the book any excitement I’d held before turned into slight disappointment because throughout, the quality of the book is often let down by Brickley’s biased narrative and irrational leaps of logic.
For example, from the off Brickley states that he believes that the odd things occurring in the area are possibly caused by an inter-dimensional portal and that a series of animal mutilations for which a culprit was never found were possibly the result of Alien visitors – notions that are both irrational conjecture. In another instance Brickley doesn’t consider whether it is possible for Werewolves to exist at all, but instead whether it is possible for them to manifest during daylight, and asserts that people who claim to have seen monsters passed Polygraph tests so must be telling the truth. The obvious flaw is that such tests don’t prove anything as they are majorly flawed, and even if people are telling the truth they can still be mistaken.
It is clear that Brickley wants to believe that there are paranormal entities in Cannock Chase, especially when he talks of having tried to communicate with one phantom with a Ouija board, but also from the manner in which he places so much trust in the validity of eye-witness testimony. As a paranormal researcher myself I know how easy it is to feel sympathetic of people who report having strange experiences, but at the same time I am fully aware of how fallible memory can be, and just because I don’t think someone is necessarily lying to me, doesn’t mean I then presume that their account is strong evidence of something supernatural.
Criticism aside, the accounts in the book are very interesting to read, and the experiences reported are genuinely scary to learn about, and I did feel a bit creeped out by some of the things people reported witnessing. The book is a fun read for anyone who has ever had an interest in the weirder side of Cannock Chase, but it often feels as though Brickley is doing his best to convince you that his beloved Cannock Chase is worthy of your attention. That said, I think it is worthy of our attention. The book has certainly made me want to visit the area and learn more. I hope Brickley will write more in the future, but perhaps work slightly on keeping the narrative a bit more structured.