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Lair of the Beasts: Monsters of the USA

Chronicling Creepy Creatures

By Nick Redfern     August 17, 2013
Source: Mania.com

Several years ago, Stackpole Books (of Mechanicsburg, PA) embarked upon an ambitious project.  It was one designed to produce a series of books that would chronicle the most credible and famous reports of strange creatures from each and every U.S. state.

I’m very pleased to say that the series did take off and is still very much ongoing. Previous titles in the series include Monsters of Illinois, Monsters of North Carolina, Monsters of West Virginia, and Monsters of New Jersey.

Well, I’m equally pleased to announce that two more titles have just been added to the series. They are Monsters of Massachusetts (by Loren Coleman) and Monsters of New York (written by Bruce G. Hallenbeck). For people with a fascination for cryptozoology and monster-hunting of the regional variety, both make for excellent and required reading.

I’ll start with the Massachusetts book. This is a book that is filled with a wide, diverse and intriguingly weird variety of beasts of the unknown and out of place kind. Coleman – whose previous books include Bigfoot! and Mothman and Other Curious Encounters – takes us deep into the heart of the Bay State and reveals that beneath the veneer of normality, matters are anything but normal.

Beyond any shadow of doubt, one of Massachusetts’ most famously odd and enigmatic beasts is (or, rather, was) the Dover Demon. It was a decidedly strange – and, arguably, almost unique – creature encountered over several days in April 1977. 

Whatever the creature was, it left a deep impression on the various eyewitnesses. It was described as being around three and half feet in height, with a baby-like body, and noticeably elongated arms and legs. It wasn’t a local, in other words.

Coleman does an excellent job of addressing the case, analyzing the witness testimony, and describing those long gone days and nights when the Dover Demon was on the minds of just about everyone around town. He also demonstrates how and why – and not surprisingly – the beast has left its mark in the worlds of TV, newspapers, and even action figures, no less!

Monsters of Massachusetts also focuses on squids of the giant variety, the Bay State Bigfoot (reports of which date back to the 1800s and that were recorded in the newspapers of that era), so-called “black panthers,” and other, mysterious, large, out of place cats, and those denizens of the deep: sea serpents.

And there’s much more too, all guaranteed to ensure you’ll never look at Massachusetts in quite the same way again!

Moving on to Bruce G. Hallenbeck’s Monsters of New York, this, too, is a fine study of beasts of the local type. Of course, being focused on the Empire state, the author provides us with much to ponder on regarding those tales that everyone has heard of – alligators in the sewers. Real, folklore, hoaxes? Hallenbeck addresses the tales in entertaining and illuminating form, and even digs into stories of giant rats roaming New York’s underworld, too.

Lake monsters, such as the legendary Champ of Lake Champlain, feature heavily in Monsters of New York, and Hallenbeck’s provides us with a good, solid history of this famous beast. He also shares with us a fascinating body of data – dating back many decades – on Sasquatch and “wild man”-style creatures, and a great deal more besides.

So, in conclusion, what we have here are two excellent additions to an equally excellent series that is set to run and run until each and every U.S. state has finally been covered. As both books demonstrate – and, indeed, as all the other Monsters of… books demonstrate too – unknown animals absolutely abound, sometimes almost right under our noses and in our personal neighborhoods.  If you’re in New York or Massachusetts, keep a camera handy next time you’re driving down those dark, shadowy, tree-shrouded roads. You know, just in case…

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

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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karas1 8/18/2013 8:04:28 PM

An alligator might survive a light winter or two in the sewers of NYC.  But a cold snap would have killed it long before it could get huge.  And I imagine that anything that survived the last few years got washed away by Hurricane Sandy.

As for giant rats...  Maybe...

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