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Lair of the Beasts: Books of the Beastly Kind
Monsters in Print
By Nick Redfern
March 19, 2011
Monsters in Print
Right now, as I write these very words, there are a number of excellent new books available on a wide and varied body of cryptozoological creatures that, if you’re interested in learning what’s new and fresh within the field of monster-hunting, I most definitely recommend.
The first is Benjamin Radford’s long-awaited and anticipated Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore. As its title strongly suggests, this is a comprehensive, full-length study of Puerto Rico’s most famous army of blood-draining nightmares: the menacing Goat-Suckers.
I have now been to the island of Puerto Rico on a number of occasions, in search of the legendary beasts, and I can say with absolute certainty that they are entities which fascinate many of the islanders, terrify some, amuse quite a few, but for others are nothing more than a big fuss about not very much at all.
Radford – who is the Managing-Editor of The Skeptical Inquirer magazine - has done the crypto-community an excellent service by cutting a veritable swathe through the rumor-mill, the friend-of-a-friend tales, the misidentifications, and the belief-driven assumptions and conclusions of many, to get to the definitive heart of what he believes may be the most likely answer to what the Chupacabra are – or, indeed, are not!
Inevitably, not everyone within the crypto-community will likely agree with everything that Radford has to say. However, he says it all in a fashion that - when coupled with deep research, a solid knowledge and appreciation of the 1990s-era origins of the phenomenon, how it developed into the cultural icon that it certainly is today, and what it all means to people right now – should not be ignored by anyone and everyone with a fascination for this weird, multifaceted phenomenon and its attendant history.
Then there is Brian Regal's Searching for Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads and Cryptozoology, which is as much about the mystery of Bigfoot as it is about those people that devote their lives to seeking out the truth of the beast. In fact, it’s safe and accurate to say this book is far more about the monster-seekers than it is the hairy monsters themselves. And it’s an entertaining title that has begun to impress a lot of people.
Richard Freeman, for example, the Zoological-Director of Britain’s Center for Fortean Zoology and the author of the book Dragons: More Than a Myth, says of Searching for Sasquatch that it is “…a unique and remarkable work that highlights the people involved in the search for unknown primates. It is a fount of information on many characters about whom I knew little or nothing. Brian Regal has created a valuable, historic and highly readable tome.”
Finally, we have Jay M. Smith’s, Monsters of the Gevaudan: The Making of a Beast, which is also a title I most strongly urge fans of mysterious animals to invest in. This is a book that focuses its careful attention upon one of the strangest of all crypto-puzzles: namely, that of a weird beast rumored to be on the loose in France in the 1700s, and that reputedly provoked terror and mayhem as it went on a lengthy, rampaging, killing spree across the land.
Was the notoriously violent beast a crazed, huge wolf? Could it have been a wild, exotic animal, secretly brought to France from some far away land? Might it even have been a literal, shape-shifting werewolf? Or was something else, something entirely different and far more down to earth, going on with respect to the killings? These are just some of the many and varied questions that have been raised when it comes to addressing this enigmatic, long-gone animal and its terrifying predations.
And if this brief bit of background has whetted your appetite for more, then I suggest you secure a copy of Monsters of the Gevaudan at the earliest opportunity. Part-detective story, part-historical mystery, and part-monster hunt, it will not disappoint in the slightest.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including Final Events; Contactees; and the forthcoming The Real Men in Black.