Lair of the Beasts: A Carnival of Monsters (

By:Nick Redfern
Date: Saturday, September 07, 2013

Born and still living in the West Midlands, England, Karl P.N. Shuker graduated from the University of Leeds with a Bachelor of Science (Honors) degree in pure zoology, and from the University of Birmingham with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in zoology and comparative physiology. He now works full-time as a freelance zoological consultant to the media, and as a prolific published writer.

Shuker is currently the author of 19 books and hundreds of articles, principally on animal-related subjects, with an especial interest in cryptozoology and animal mythology, on which he is an internationally recognized authority, but also including a poetry volume.

In addition, he has acted as consultant for several major multi-contributor volumes as well as for the world-renowned Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (he is currently its Senior Consultant for its Life Sciences section); and he has compiled questions for the BBC’s long-running cerebral quiz-show Mastermind

He is also the editor of the Journal of Cryptozoology, the world’s only existing peer-reviewed scientific journal devoted to mystery animals. Karl is also a friend who I have known for a number of years, having grown up just a short distance from where he lives.

And, I’m very pleased to say, Karl has a brand new book out right now. Its title is Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History, and it’s published by Anomalist Books. So, what can be said about the book? Well, how about this: 

Welcome to a carnival unlike anything that you have ever read about, visited, or even imagined before. Here, before your very eyes, you will encounter bizarre, anomalous creatures of every conceivable (and inconceivable!) kind - a veritable menagerie of cryptozoological mysteries to dazzle and delight, tantalize and terrify. For this is Mirabilis - a realm of marvels, wonders, miracles...and monsters!

Peer through the shadows and see what you may. Was that scuttling horror a spider the size of a puppy? Did that fallen tree trunk suddenly sprout a pair of alligator jaws? Was that a living toad that leapt out of that split-asunder block of stone? Did those flowers abruptly put forth wings and fly away as tiny birds?

Behold Trunko, the hairy marine elephant-bear that supposedly battled whales off the coast of South Africa almost a century ago. 

Look around in every direction and witness the very last giant lemurs brought to you from the rainforests of Madagascar, the very same unicorn that was once encountered by Julius Caesar, dinosaur-sized crocodiles from the swamps of the Congo, and the elephantine harpoon-tusked sukotyro of Sumatra.

On top of that we are treated to accounts of gargantuan prehistoric beavers resurrected in modern-day North America, illusive Germanic horned hares and elusive Liberian micro-squirrels, a giant sea snail with antlers and paws from the Sarmatian Sea and a veritable whale-fish from a forgotten Swedish lake.

Finally, there is a vanished striped mystery steed from Iberia, enormous toothless freshwater sharks from South America, flying turtles from China and a hippoturtleox from Tibet, sea dragons and pseudo-pterodactyls, and the world's only known tusked megalopedus.

In other words, what we have with Mirabilis is an excellent study of some of the strangest creatures said to haunt the jungles, forests and waters of our world. One word of caution: if spiders give you the creeps, then take a very deep breath before you read Chapter 4.

Why? Simple: it tells of jaw-dropping accounts of predatory spiders of truly giant sizes. How big? Well, think of a spider with a leg-span of around 4-feet and you’ll get the picture! A book that entertains and informs in equal measures, Mirabilis is a winner.

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including There’s something in the Woods and Monster Diary