Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena

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The Sight of Hell

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Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell: A Memoir - Paperback edition
Paperback edition

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell: A Memoir

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell is an exceptionally well-researched and thoughtful look at an influential figure in history and how he might’ve reacted to the many events that followed his rise and fall. The idea that Cromwell’s spirit continued to observe the world through the eyes of his severed head is a fascinating one, and it provided a storytelling perspective quite unlike anything I’d read before. …

[It] is historical fiction done with grace, style, and ingenuity. (I haven’t even mentioned the absolutely stunning cover.) What an unexpected treat.”

– San Francisco Book Review

“Brilliant! Is this horror, cult fiction, science fiction, or a half-true travelogue through time as told by a dismembered head? Whatever you call it, the story is one of the most original pieces of writing this decade. One wonders about the state of Hartzman’s own head as he comes up with one story after another, all told from the recesses of a skull while in the afterlife.

The images that result from the words Hartzman puts in Cromwell mouth are both disturbing and fanciful. You will cringe one minute and laugh the next as you find his head in familiar predicaments. Would I react the same way, I found myself asking at various times.”

– Tim O’Brien, Ambassador of Odd for Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Review from Shiri Sondheimer

“I learned so much from this book and while Cromwell is the epicenter, there is so much more to the form. Hartzman introduces us to people we would never otherwise of met, people who seem unimportant in the grand scope of several thousand years but who sparked a remarkable chain of events by picking up a desiccated head from a muddy street or seeking it out in an oddities exhibition. It is a book which, beyond disseminating facts, disseminates the sense of a man–a man who was proud and foolish, religious and rational, arrogant and loving.

Just like us.

He made a difference. He changed the world.

His head made a difference.

And if the embalmed head of Oliver Cromwell can change the world?

So can you.”

–  Shiri Sondheimer, GeekMom

“Hartzman’s genius narrative, a three-century panoramic portrait of English society, is as unexpected as it is innovative. As if he’s channeled William Makepeace Thackeray through the mind of Terry Gilliam. His Lord Protector, though separated from brain & body, is a fully formed man. Still curious, still ambitious, still able to learn a thing or two as he leads us through backroom and bar room, introducing us to harkers, henchmen, dreamers and schemers. All along suffering the snubs of doubters who would deny his greatness while his keepers stubbornly defend the provenance of their beloved Lord Cromwell’s extraordinary head.”

–Todd Field

“In his deliciously twisted book, Hartzman tracks the unhappy fate of Cromwell’s pate over the course of 300 years, and in a ghoulish turn of ventriloquism, he lets the head do the talking. From beginning to end, this startling yarn is recounted by Cromwell’s long-suffering skull, and it has quite a story to share. Unsettling, yes, but also irresistible.”


“Delightfully macabre … If you’re into weird, out of the ordinary historical episodes, this is definitely the book for you!”

–Reading Lark

“In 10, 20, 50 years, Marc Hartzman’s The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell: A Memoir will be seen as a true artifact of its time, perhaps the truest artifact of its time. Bravo.”

– James Taylor, Publisher of James Taylor’s Shocked and Amazed! On & Off the Midway

“Compulsively readable and genuinely fascinating, this is history from a perspective you’ve never encountered before—and may never again. A surprising delight for the morbidly curious.”

– Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

“Delightfully wicked.”

– Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books & Collections

“Oliver Cromwell’s embalmed head is alive and well! Marc Hartzman takes us on a fascinating, epic journey of Cromwell’s afterlife. It’s a touching, adventurous, and historical journey that I didn’t want to end.”

– Brooks Palmer, author of Better Late Than Dead!

“Just because you’re dead and buried doesn’t mean your severed head can’t go on an amazing, 300-year journey — and talk about it. … this fictionalized account recounts one of history’s strangest tales in a way you’ll never forget.” [Full article]

– Buck Wolf, Executive Crime & Weird News Editor, Huff Post