Bigfoot to Mothman: A Global Encyclopedia of Legendary Beasts and Monsters

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2024. 320p. Tr $100. ISBN 9781440877254.
Gr 8 Up–The author of several books that shine a light on more obscure traditions around the world, now offers a global and multifaceted approach to cryptids. A lengthy introduction features the history and an overview of modern-day cryptozoology. The work also addresses the rise of mistrust in hard science during the pandemic and the nature of belief when it comes to the unexplainable. Crucially, DeMello stresses that the guide is not designed to prove the existence of the creatures covered but to explore the global cultural phenomenon of cryptids more fully. The text is organized geographically, alphabetically, thematically, and by taxonomy, providing multiple ways to access entries. It discusses approximately 50 cryptids and another 40 creatures like cryptids. Entries provide the name, alternative names, related cryptids, origin location, and the date and location of the “last documented sighting,” although there are no details or further information provided about such sightings. Many entries contain historical, cultural, psychological, and even literary perspectives on the role cryptids play in the human psyche. Discussions of governmental cover-ups in cryptid sightings and activities undercut that stronger narrative. Further reading, including primary sources, follows each entry.
VERDICT Readers may find a more traditional and comprehensive resource in the 2014 Encyclopedia of Cryptology: A Global Guide by Michael Newton. An additional purchase where interest in the unexplained is strong.

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