Lair of the Beasts: A Monstrous Yearbook (

By:Nick Redfern
Date: Friday, April 20, 2012

Out right now is a brand new book published by Britain’s Center for Fortean Zoology, one of the very few full-time groups in the world that investigates such strange creatures as the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster, Sasquatch, and the Chupacabras. Its title: The CFZ Yearbook 2013.

As well as publishing its own, high-quality, paperback books, the CFZ also embarks upon expeditions to various parts of the globe in search of all-things beastly and mysterious, and works closely with TV and the press on breaking stories. 

Each year, since 1996, the CFZ has published a book-length round-up of what went on in the organization during the previous year. And the 2013 edition – which highlights the CFZ’s activities in 2012, and much more too – has just been published. Edited by CFZ director Jonathan Downes and his wife, Corinna, the book is a first-class study of a wide range of cryptozoological phenomena.

So, what do you get for your money? Well, I’ll tell you. Irish author and cryptozoological expert, Ronan Coghlan, provides us with an A to Z-style paper – which runs to no less than 140 pages – that lists a wealth of strange creatures reported across the planet and the centuries.

The good thing about Coghlan’s contribution to the CFZ Yearbook is that it doesn’t focus on those alleged beasts that just about everyone has heard of, such as Mothman, Nessie, and Bigfoot. 

Instead, Coghlan treats us to a fantastic list of creatures that are as bizarre as they are diverse. From the Evren – a dragon of Turkish lore – to the Louisiana Lizard Man, and much more besides, Coghlan gives us an excellent study of a wealth of lesser-known weird creatures.

Neil Arnold tells the strange and entertaining saga of the “Essex Lion.” In late 2012, fear and chaos broke out in the English county of Essex, when rumors spread like wildfire of a fully-grown, man-eating lion on the loose. Arnold does a fine job of dissecting fact from fiction as he seeks out the truth of the affair.

Werewolves and lycanthropy in 18th Century France are the focus of Paul Williams’ paper, Le Gevaudan: The Man behind the Monster. This is an excellent study of a case involving an alleged outbreak of lycanthropy, as well as a fierce beast on the loose. It’s a saga that also inspired a very cool 2001 movie, Brotherhood of the Wolf.

Then there is Jonathan Jacobs, who reveals to us to his expert analysis of what many believe to be a photograph of an unknown, ape-like creature photographed in Tibet in 2009. Tibet, of course, is the domain of the legendary Yeti. Exotic animals in Pakistan, beasts that many believe to be extinct but which may not be, and even a folkloric man-eating plant also feature heavily in the Yearbook, too.

On top of all that, the people who run the Canadian and Australian chapters of the CFZ have papers included that detail their work for the organization in 2012. Canada’s Robin Bellamy delves into what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police think of Bigfoot; and Rebecca Lang and Mike Williams, of Australia, tackle such matters as big cats down under, the Australian equivalent of Bigfoot: the Yowie, and much more.

So, all in all, the Center for Fortean Zoology’s Yearbook 2013 is an excellent study of what the CFZ – as well as its friends, associates, and colleagues - has done in the past 12 months, and all in the name of furthering our knowledge of the strange creatures that are rumored to live amongst us.

Nick Redfern’s new book, Monster Files, will be published by New Page Books on May 22.