Writer: Aaron Mahnke
Publishing House: Del Rey
Date of Publication: October 10th 2017
Rating: 4 stars
‘’The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’’
Starting this book, I had the belief that nothing new was in store for me. That it would possibly prove to be a satisfying read on the Paranormal field but with little new to offer. Well, I was wrong. It was very well-written with some exciting changes from the norms that made it all the more interesting.
The title ‘’Monstrous Creatures’’ is a bit misleading. I suppose the word ‘’monstrous’’ is loosely used to signify something unnatural, threatening and evil. Something that we cannot understand, something that repels us. In this volume, we find a well-balanced array of traditions from all over the world, folklore from the five continents, although the emphasis is on the Anglo-Saxon world since the written testimonies are heavily broader and properly documented. Vampires, werewolves, the living dead, mysterious creatures of the sea, anthropomorphic being lurking in dark woods, dark entities responsible for dark deeds. There are spirits, superstitions and beliefs that go back ages and ages ago and yet, they are very much alive in our time.
There are two things that I found refreshing and worthy of praise, in my opinion. For starters, the narration is very vivid, very interesting, thoughtful and sincere. The writer comes across as a level-headed person, witty and respectful of the subject. He doesn’t downgrade it, he doesn’t turn it into a smartarse satire. He walks the thin line between the believer and the sceptic comfortably and I found myself in absolute agreement with his views. What makes this book special, in my opinion, is the fact that it links beliefs and traditions of the past with extremely recent unexplained occurrences. We’re talking about phenomena that were reported in the 60s, the 70s, all the way to our decade. The fact that stories whose roots can be found in the past still seem to concern us certainly gives food for thought. I admit that many of the stories- and quite a few were unknown to me- were eerie and chilling. The experience was enhanced by the simple yet effective black-and-white illustrations and I cannot help but give extra points to Aaron Mahnke for the Hannibal (TV series) reference. Nothing beats Mads and his culinary skills. Or any other of his skills and yes, this was totally inappropriate…
So, it takes a lot to impress a reader who has read extensively on the Paranormal subject, but this book managed to do it. I consider myself leaning more towards the believer’s side with a significant dose of doubt (because who knows for sure, right….?) and many of the questions Mahnke poses had me thinking. This is a book that sceptics and believers will enjoy since the writer doesn’t provide answers. He simply states the facts. Speaking for myself, I was a bit influenced and each night I read it (because I obviously such things in the late hours…), I double-checked to make sure the cross I keep on my bedside table was there. It doesn’t hurt to be cautious….