Into the World of the Dead: Astonishing Adventures in the Underworld.


56 pages
ISBN 978-1-55037-959-3
DDC j202'.3





Nikki Tate-Stratton writes children’s picture books and novels for
preteens. Her most recent novels are Jo’s Triumph, Raven’s Revenge,
and Tarragon Island. Her latest picture book is Grandparents’ Day.


Given that nobody has ever returned to speak of it, it’s amazing how many stories there are about the world of the dead. Author Michael Boughn has done a great job of using traditional stories to illustrate the ways in which ideas of death and otherworlds have been woven into narratives in all cultures.


The book opens with brief descriptions of heavens, hells, underworlds, and otherworlds from a number traditions. Hades (Ancient Greece), Jigoku (Japanese Buddhism), Ganzir (Ancient Mesopotamia), and Christian, Jewish, and Muslim depictions are some of those included. The next chapter describes otherworld entrances (e.g., lakes, caves, designated doors) and the third chapter describes why journeys to the underworld are undertaken, despite the obvious challenges and dangers. Some of the heroes and hapless victims—humans and supernatural beings who have made the journey are discussed in the next chapter, and Chapter 5 focuses on the process of getting from here to there. Additional chapters describe characters like Satan, Ah Puch (Mayan), and Osiris (ancient Egypt) and their pets and companions. Boughn doesn’t leave readers stranded—the final chapter features stories of those who return back to our world.


The clearly written text finds just the right balance of juicy tidbits of information and good storytelling. Illustrated with reproductions of woodcuts, paintings, drawings, and photographs, the overall design of the book is appealing and easily navigated. The book also includes an index and a list of additional resources, many of which are collections of myths and legends. Highly recommended.


Boughn, Michael., “Into the World of the Dead: Astonishing Adventures in the Underworld.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,