On a similar path to my previous article – on my five favorite UFO books – I thought I would share with you my five top cryptozoology-themed books. As with the UFO list, this one occasionally changes and fluctuates. But not to a massive degree. And also as per the UFO list, the following titles are presented for you in no particular order.
THE OWLMAN AND OTHERS, BY JONATHAN DOWNES
Very much an English equivalent of Point Pleasant, West Virginia’s Mothman (albeit with a few differences), the Owlman is a beast that haunts the English county of Cornwall. It’s a glowing-eyed, winged humanoid that, for years, obsessed a good friend of mine. That friend is Jon Downes, the director of the Center for Fortean Zoology. The story first surfaced in the summer of 1976 and has never really gone away. Living not too far from the scene of the monstrous action, it’s no surprise that Jon elected to try and solve the mystery of the diabolical winged thing. The result: his 331-page book, The Owlman and Others, first published in 1998. It’s an atmospheric saga filled with mysterious woods, sinister and magical characters, matter of a supernatural and occult nature, intrigue and adventure, and, of course, the man-monster of the book’s title. Best read by candlelight, on a foggy English moor at midnight!
LIZARD MAN, BY LYLE BLACKBURN
In 2012, Anomalist Books published Lyle Blackburn’s excellent book, The Beast of Boggy Creek – a study of the creature that inspired the 1972 movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek. In 2013, Anomalist Books published a second title from Lyle, Lizard Man. It’s a full-length, road-trip-style study of Lyle’s efforts (with his research partner, Cindy Lee) to uncover the truth behind a wave of sightings of a marauding beast that sounded like something out of Creature from the Black Lagoon. This was no movie-monster though. It was all too real. Lyle tells the story of the wave of encounters that occurred at Bishopville, South Carolina in 1988, and he shares with us his findings, thoughts, and observations on the matter of the monster. A town plunged into a state of fear. A scaly monster roaming around the local swamps. And a media frenzy. Lyle covers it all in fine, entertaining, and informative style.
THE MICHIGAN DOGMAN, BY LINDA GODFREY
Linda Godfrey, as fans of Cryptozoology will know, has written a significant number of books on werewolves. They include The Beast of Bray Road, Hunting the American Werewolf, Real Wolfmen, and Werewolves. Collectively, they paint a startling picture of the closest things to real-life werewolves roaming the United States. And then there is The Michigan Dogman, which is my favorite of all Linda’s titles. It was admittedly, however, a close race. It’s a book that demonstrates how little we really know of not just our world, but even of our immediate environment. We’re not talking about people mutating into wolfmen at the sight of a full moon, however. No, we’re talking about strange, wolf-like animals that seem to have the uncanny ability to walk on both four limbs and two. What they are is an entirely different issue. Linda addresses a variety of theories that range from an unknown animal to a creature of supernatural proportions. Well-written, captivating, and downright eerie, The Michigan Dogman should be on the bookshelves of each and every person with an interest in strange, and possibly unearthly, creatures.
THE SILVER BRIDGE, BY GRAY BARKER
Some might say it’s heresy to not consider John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies as the best study of the winged monster of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. I listed Keel’s book in my top 5 UFO books, but in terms of Cryptozoology and Mothman, I favor The Silver Bridge by Gray Barker. Now, I should clarify my stance by saying this: there’s no doubt at all that Keel’s book is far more comprehensive than Barker’s. However, I think that Barker far more capably captured the undeniable atmosphere of menace, dread, and downright fear that enveloped Point Pleasant in the mid-to-late 1960s. Yes, Barker was someone who wrote in a somewhat Gonzo-style nature (a bright and sunny day becomes the proverbial dark and stormy night) and for whom the facts could be twisted for effect. But, I recommend you read The Silver Bridge, if you have not already done so. Yes, it’s a strange little book (it runs to barely 150 pages); however, it tells the story of Mothman in a marvelously creepy and captivating fashion.
ENCOUNTERS WITH FLYING HUMANOIDS, BY KEN GERHARD
Ken Gerhard is a good friend of mine, and someone I’ve known since 2003. But, that has no bearing on my decision to include his book in my list. Encounters with Flying Humanoids appears here for one simple reason: it’s a bloody good book. As the title of this 2013 book suggests, Encounters with Flying Humanoids is a study of unknown winged beasts that are somewhat human-like in appearance. Of course, the aforementioned Owlman and Mothman put in appearances. But, what I particularly enjoy about Ken’s book is that he doesn’t take a lazy approach of just focusing on the more well-known flying man-things. No. A great deal of research and work went into the book, to ensure that even the most obscure cases got an airing, some of them dating back to the dawn of history. In that sense, Encounters with Flying Humanoids is the definitive guide to monsters of the skies.