I have to admit that when I first saw these books being advertised on Twitter, I was skeptical about their value. I was very afraid that they would be another in the long line of books issued recently by various publishing houses that take a mythical creature, sensationalize it and warp and twist the information so it becomes another reason to laugh at those who believe in the mystical and supernatural.
I am glad to report that my fears, in this case, were unfounded.
This book is set up to be an encyclopedia of sorts, to list creatures and then give you information about those creatures. Ms Budd’s encyclopedia is done very well. She takes real-life accounts of these creatures and puts them together in a format that is very easy to read. She cites cases, references them, and then gives you a synopsis of the event. She gives what description there is of the creature, then the accounts known and finally (if there is one) how to interact or defend yourself from it.
I know, I know, this sounds sensational already, but bear with me.
These accounts are not fictional accounts, which I really have to compliment her on. She never indulges in the temptation to relate the Black Dogs (aka “the Grim”) with the account from Harry Potter. She uses real life encounters, and in many cases personal encounters, to show you what this creature is. I can only imagine the amount of time she spent in research.
This is what this book is, a compiled reference of fantastic creatures and real encounters with them. The “Further Reading” section in the back is a VERY complete list of references on these creatures that also gives you the sources she pulled from. She never states anywhere that these encounters are true encounters, nor does she say that these creatures truly exist in this reality. Kudos to her.
Now for the bad: The illustrations are “interesting” in that many of them look to have been drawn by a talented 8 year old. I understand that this is not a book of artwork, but I was hoping for a bit more. The way it is laid out internally is hard to follow, for one creature follows another on the same page. Yes, they are separate in the Table of Contents, but the flow from one to another makes for a LONG book. In my opinion it would have been better to give each its own section.
The illustrations are inline with the text, making some of the paragraphs squashed around the picture, also making the reading a bit more difficult.
Overall, this book reminded me very forcibly of the Time-Life series of books about the supernatural that they produced some time ago. If you have an interest in this area of the paranormal, then you will love to read this book.
Overall, I’m giving it 4 stars out of 5, and saying, “well done”. I am glad to have this on my shelf.
~review by Daven
Author: Deena West Budd
Weiser Books, 2010
originally posted at davensjournal.com. reprinted with permission