Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore (Theresa Bane, 2016)

A few months ago, I received another book from McFarland & Company, Inc. for review. This is another book by my good friend, Theresa Bane, and I have to say, this is one of her best yet. As you know, Theresa is a renowned expert on vampires and the Undead, and has written over a dozen books on such things. And with every book she writes, she adds to her encyclopedic knowledge of supernatural beings. This time, however, she tackles monsters from all over the world in her newest tome, which is entitled Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore.

The Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters is an academic volume, and is intended for serious researchers (like myself) and for those with an insatiable curiosity about such things. As with all of her encyclopedic works, Theresa’s research is painstakingly thorough, and every conceivable type of monster gets an entry of its own. The bibliography is even more extensive than the one featured in her Encyclopedia of Spirits and Ghosts (and she loved that review!), and is over thirty pages long! That is absolutely incredible! I’ve read about a quarter of those books (if even that!), and I intend to read even more of them in the future. Most of the book’s entries are very detailed, and some of these entries are two pages long! Others are very short, consisting of two to three sentences and giving only basic information, which may encourage her readers to do their own research. However, the majority of the book’s entries fall somewhere in between the two, arousing the reader’s interest and inspiring them to learn more on their own. And at the end of each entry, Theresa gives her sources, which consists of the author’s last name, the book’s title, and the pages that contain the information she has given. And at about 423 pages (which includes the bibliography and the index), this book is larger and beefier than the last one I reviewed. Let me tell you, folks: that is a ton of information, and that’s what I like.

Moving on to the book’s contents, the entries contain information on virtually every kind of monster, beast, and creature that you can imagine (except for the Wendigo, which is a shame because I would love to hear Theresa’s take on the monster). There are various types of monsters discussed in this book, which includes cryptids, bogeymen, werebeasts, yōkai, demons, vampires, dragons (there are a lot of dragons listed in this book), the Undead, faeries, shapeshifters, some literary creatures (like Grendel from Beowulf), beasts from classical mythology, tricksters, Fearsome Critters (legends passed down half-jokingly by lumberjacks), deities, sea and lake monsters, beasts associated with black magic and sorcery, and many, many more. Each one of these entries describes the monster or beast’s appearance, behavior, powers, where they come from in the world, their cultural origins, how to defend yourself from their depredations, and even how to kill them (which isn’t always possible). The entries are all in alphabetical order, from the Aarvak to the Zorigami. Some of my favorite entries include the Aswang, the Ga-Git (an entry featured on this blog), the Impundulu, Mama Dlo, the Krampus, the Pukwudgie, the Kelpie, the Basilisk, the Kappa, the Alp, the Batibat, the Black Dog, the Werewolf (there are great deal of werewolf-related entries in this book), and a great deal more. And with over 2,200 individual entries, it’s very hard to pick your favorites. You won’t find any entries dealing with fictional monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Great Cthulhu, Godzilla, King Kong, the Slenderman, the Rake, or anything like that. It is possible that she might publish another encyclopedia on such things one day (I hope), but for now, there are plenty of other books on those creatures.

Overall, the Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore is incredibly well-written, free of the errors that plague so many other books these days, easy to understand, very neatly organized, and a veritable treasure trove of curious and forgotten lore. Theresa’s research is exhaustively thorough and extremely detailed, with a rather long index for quickly locating needed information, and an enormous bibliography for further reading and expanding your own research. In short, this book is a hunter and researcher’s dream come true!! I am truly thankful that McFarland & Company sent me this book, free of charge, for reviewing and for my own personal enjoyment. I will definitely be reviewing more titles from them in the very near future. I very much recommend this book to all of my blog’s readers, my friends, and my fellow researchers and monster hunters. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and buy a copy!

Publisher: McFarland – – 800-253-2187 (Order Line)

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