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Trick or Treat

A History of Halloween

Halloween has spread around the world, yet its associations with death and the supernatural as well as its inevitable commercialization have made it one of our most puzzling holidays. How did it become what it is today?

Trick or Treat is the first book both to examine the origins and history of Halloween and to explore in depth its current global popularity. Festivals like the Celtic Samhain and Catholic All Souls’ Day have blended to produce the modern Halloween, which has been reborn with new customs in America—but there are also related but independent holidays, especially Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Lisa Morton lifts the cobwebs off everything from the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions to the impact of events like the global economic recession, as well as the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through literary works, films, and television series.

Taking us on a journey from the spectacular to the macabre, this book is a treat for anyone who wants to peep behind the mask to see the real past and present of this ever more popular holiday.

232 pages | 53 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2019

History: General History

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Bram Stoker Award for Nonfiction


Halloween Book Festival Grand Prize

"Morton’s excellent history explores Halloween’s origins and traditions as well as its place in popular culture."


“If you want to know anything at all about the subject, you ought to find it in Trick or Treat.”

Times (UK)

"Numerous black and white illustrations, references, bibliography, and an index supplement Morton's engaging and solidly researched text. Trick or Treat documents lots of historical tricks and is a wonderful treat for anyone looking beyond the commercial surface of Halloween."

Canberra Times

“From an authority on Hallowe’en lore comes all you need to know about this ‘misunderstood’ festival. . . . Well written and illustrated, informative and entertaining.”

Fortean Times

Trick or Treat covers the history of Halloween from its ancient Celtic roots to its stunning growth in global popularity in the twenty-first century. Morton is an accomplished horror short story writer, and her ability to draw readers in quickly and keep them turning the pages shines through in her nonfiction as well. Lavishly illustrated, this solidly researched and concise work is fun to read and a great choice for readers who want to know why we seek out the scary each October.”

Library Journal

“[Morton] playfully sets the record straight on the origins of Halloween. . . . This book is an excellent example of the scholarship on holidays as a means of accessing many facets of history. Highly recommended.”


“Full of historical nuggets and strange folklore, Morton’s Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is the perfect bible for all devoted disciples of the holiday.”

Michael Dougherty, writer and director, "Trick 'r Treat"

“With Trick or Treat Morton gives us a charming, creepy, insightful, and thoroughly fascinating history of Halloween. It’s a delicious blend of cultural history and pop-culture savvy that is a true delight to read!”

Jonathan Maberry, author of "Flesh and Bone" and "Assassin’s Code"

“This is an excellent survey of the Halloween scene, informative and accessible, far more treat than trick.”

Kim Newman, author of "Nightmare Movies" and "Anno Dracula"

“In a modern world, increasingly filled with pop culture fads and gimmicks, Morton reveals much of the underbelly history and unknown facts regarding the biggest pop culture event in history—Halloween. Her sheer delight and well-researched enthusiasm in tackling many of the unrecognized aspects of this monstrous topic makes one wonder what we don’t know about everything else that should be as commonplace to our psyche as a bag of candy.”

Del Howison, editor of "Dark Delicacies" and "Book of Lists: Horror"

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