When it comes to tracking down engaging reading material, atlases typically don’t make the cut.
Designed with functionality in mind, these works are more likely to familiarize you with the topography of Yellowstone National Park than they are to stir up deeply unsettling feelings about the world around you — until now, that is.
Olivier Le Carrer’s “Atlas of Cursed Places” and Aude de Tocqueville’s “Atlas of Lost Cities” — both published by Hachette Book Group — effectively turn the form on its head. By rejecting the conventions of the typical atlas, they provide readers with glimpses into some of the darkest places on Earth. Those insights are at once practical and chilling.
Le Carrer’s “Atlas of Cursed Places” — a New York Times best seller — takes readers on guided tours through cities around the world that are marred with the scars of devastation and chaos.
The author focuses on plagued locations that fall into one or more of these three categories: those with ties to a mystical order, those that are rendered uninhabitable by human interference, and those that are hotbeds of paranormal activity.
Vintage maps make the page-turning experience as beautiful as it is haunting.
From villages that are buried by sand each year to homes with histories that are almost too horrific to imagine, this atlas is filled to the brim with oft-forgotten locales.
The book forces us to confront the corners of the Earth that make us uncomfortable — the ones that we’d much rather send back into the recesses of our minds.
But it’s that exact feeling that sends it flying off the shelves. We’re fascinated by darkness, and this atlas serves as a vehicle that deftly steers us straight into the abyss.
And its new sister, Aude de Tocqueville’s “Atlas of Lost Cities,” taps into that flair for obscurity from an equally engaging angle.
From the doomed city of Pompeii to the tourist town of Epecuen that was swallowed by raging waters, the author leaves no stone unturned as she explores the rise and fall of ill-fated territories all over the world.
By highlighting the mortality of these cities, Aude de Tocqueville gives us an opportunity to consider the course of human history from an intriguing new vantage point — one that factors in the Earth’s role in dismantling what mankind worked so hard to create.