Over the decades, a lot of books have been written on the matter of Scotland’s most famous unknown animal(s), the Loch Ness Monster(s). Some of those books are very good and a few are pretty dire. Others, particularly old ones, are downright elusive. And, there are those that perhaps many have not heard of, but which make for excellent, entertaining reading. One book that falls into the latter category is Colin Stott’s book, Four-Teans go to Ness. If you haven’t read it, you really should.
When I lived in the UK, I used to see Colin a couple of times a year – at conferences on all-things weird, monstrous, and generally strange. It was at one such conference a few years ago that Colin thrust into my hand a small book that had a picture of the dark waters and the hills of Loch Ness on its cover. It transpired that Colin and three of his mates drove up from their respective English homes to the mighty loch, for a week, to seek out the legendary creature for themselves – and perhaps even to invoke it via ancient rite and ritual. And, on his return home, Colin decided to write a book about the adventure.
Colin skillfully begins by setting the scene. He explains how and why he and his mates – Perry, Mick and Dave – decided to embark on their expedition, and launches into a tale of memorable and cryptozoological proportions. Along the way, we get a good insight into the lives and characters of the four friends. We learn what motivates them to seek out Nessie. And we get highly entertained in the process.
Colin also hammers home the important point that, in terms of weirdness, Loch Ness is not just the domain of monsters. As he very rightly notes, the loch is literally saturated by high-strangeness of a truly dizzying variety. None other than the “Great-Beast” himself, Aleister Crowley, once owned a home on Loch Ness: Boleskine House. In addition, the book is packed with amusing and intriguing tales of the guys’ activities – which center upon Werewolf-Ninjas (I kid you not…), haunted cemeteries, crashed UFOs, occult practices, dark goings-on in the thick woods that surround the loch, and much, much more.
And, of course, there is the main character in the book: that long-necked infamous beast. It’s clear from reading the book that Colin possesses a deep knowledge of the history and lore of the monster, and this shines through in the pages of his mighty tome. Citing some of the more intriguing – and sometimes little-known – sightings of the creature, Colin paints a picture of definitive high-strangeness, of dark secrets, and of a land that is both magical and mysterious, in equally heady proportions. Then, we get to learn all about the invocation that the four undertake as they seek to force Nessie to rise from the inky depths – an invocation that just might have worked, as Colin explains.
Not only that: the book also contains a selection of good, color photographs that offer the reader a solid view of what Loch Ness is really like, and what you may find there if you dare to hunt for the great “thing” yourself. But, this is more than just a book about monsters and spooky activity in the vicinity of Loch Ness. It’s also a story of four friends following a dream, having an adventure that they will undoubtedly remember for the rest of their lives, and doing something on their own terms, and to hell with what anyone else might think. An attitude I applaud!
I most definitely recommend Four-Teans go to Ness to anyone that wants to learn more about the creature, about monster-hunting in general, and about that most-mysterious of all locales: Loch Ness.