Non-Fiction Reviews

Monstrous Creatures

(2017) , Wildfire, £18.99, hrdbk, 303pp, ISBN 978-1-472-25165-7


This is the book of the podcast, but none the worse for it. If you have listened to ‘Lore’ then you will know what you are in for.  Each chapter is a gentle and slightly idiosyncratic amble through the supernatural. Vampires, werewolves, wendigoes and other weirdness.  More than three hundred pages of dark folklore, gently and eruditely discussed.  Basically, imagine sitting around a campfire one night and listening to someone telling you their favourite spooky stories, in a conversational way.  And I should also say – the storyteller is well informed.  There is a lot of solid research here, and it is clear that Mahnke takes the subject very seriously.

I did ask myself, though – who exactly is this book for?  Each chapter is an enjoyable read and if you were a writer looking for story ideas this is a goldmine.  But it would be tricky to use Monstrous Creatures to find information easily on a particular monster.  And although I enjoyed the level of detail, it may be a little more than the average reader is after.  There aren’t classic ghost stores, and it’s a pretty disorganised work of non fiction.

If I was to sum this collection up, it is kind of like - a supernatural version of Lake Woebegon.  The ideal way of reading this book would be a chapter a night, just before bed time.  Though I can’t guarantee a good night's sleep…!!

Sebastian Phillips

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