Wondering where I got that article-title from? I’ll tell you: it’s also the title of the brand new book from Dr. Karl Shuker: A Manifestation of Monsters: Examining The (Un)Usual Suspects. Published by Anomalist Books, this is an excellent new book, one that those of you fascinated by the subject of Cryptozoology will definitely enjoy. Indeed, it’s difficult to go wrong with one of Karl’s books, as he’s someone who is justifiably referred to as one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists.
What I enjoy about Karl’s books (and particularly so the new one) is that he doesn’t just focus on the world’s most famous cryptids, such as Bigfoot, Ogopogo, Nessie, the Yeti, and so on. Nope, as the “(Un)Usual” wording of the sub-title clearly demonstrates, Karl gets into the worlds of some very obscure and odd critters. Which is, of course, a good thing. Yes, Karl focuses on some of the more famous ones too. But, giving the reader a look at a wealth of strange “things” that, very likely, many have no knowledge of is a big plus.
The book kicks off in fine style with a foreword from Ken Gerhard, author of Encounters With Flying Humanoids. My words above echo Ken’s, who says of Karl that he “…displays an uncanny knack for bringing to light lesser-known cryptids that even seasoned researchers like myself have never heard of, and with this compendium he delivers once again.”
One of the chapters that particularly resonated with me is titled “Why Blood-Drained Carcases are Not the Work of Chupacabras or Other Supposedly Vampiric Cryptids.” This is a story I can particularly relate to, as on every occasion I have been to Puerto Rico in pursuit of the Chupacabra, I have heard tales of the beasts draining animals of blood. But, on no occasion were such claims every vindicated – as I note in my new book, Chupacabra Road Trip. It’s good to see these tales of vampires demystified by Karl, and in a scientific-but-easily-understandable fashion.
We’re also introduced to the very interesting world of giant eels. Is it feasible that some of the world’s most famous lake-monsters are actually eels of an enormous kind? It’s doubtful that the Scottish Tourist Board would take pleasure in promoting the “Loch Ness Eel.” After all, the word “monster” is a big-seller! But, it’s a fact that Karl makes an intriguing case for this theory and demonstrates that it’s a theory we should not dismiss. And, again, it’s an area that resonated with me, for the following reason. Both me and Karl grew up not too far from the English city of Birmingham, and both of us have investigated reports of giant eels in the winding canals of the city. A chapter not to be missed!
A Manifestation of Monsters also contains an excellent chapter on giant, cryptid monitor-lizards. This is a fascinating chapter, which takes us from the Congo to Iraq, and from Babylon to Sumatra. Karl skilfully shows that at least some reports of alleged surviving dinosaurs are likely of unknown, giant monitor-lizards. It’s a theory that makes a great deal of sense, and which is far more plausible than the idea of leftovers from the Jurassic period.
In the last few years, there has been a fair degree of media coverage of the rarely-seen Oarfish, a somewhat sea serpent-like fish that can grow to lengths of around 30 feet (and maybe even 50 feet, if unconfirmed rumors are correct). Karl provides us with a very good overview of the Oarfish, of its history, and of the mystery that surrounds this largely elusive animal. With cool artwork to accompany it, this particular chapter demonstrates that our world is home to some seriously weird creatures – and, more importantly, ones that we can prove are among us.
How would you like to come face to face with a six-foot-wide toad? That’s what you might find yourself confronted by if you travel to the wilder parts of China’s Hubei Province. Grotesque, with eyes “bigger than rice bowls,” and capable of creating bone-chilling terror as a result of their “eldritch screams,” they sound like the kinds of things best avoided at all costs. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind trying to bag one and show it to the world. After all, gotta keep life exciting!
And that’s only the start of things. As his research spans the globe, Karl shares with us his findings on a wide variety of other strange things too, such as the Mongolian Death Worm, the half-plant and half-animal known as the “Vegetable Lamb” (I kid you not…), gargantuan gastropods, giant squids, the Beast of Bray Road and the somewhat-connected Michigan Dogman, and much more.
If you’re new to Cryptozoology, you will love A Manifestation of Monsters. And even if you’re an old-timer who has been in the subject since the Abominable Snowman was the Abominable Snow-fetus, you’ll find a mass of material in here that has barely ever been touched on before. Once again, Karl delivers the goods!