The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest is a new book from Tobias Wayland. The blurb for the book reads as follows: “This book represents over two years of research by a dedicated team of investigators who have taken dozens of reports of a weird, winged humanoid seen around Lake Michigan. Author and investigator Tobias Wayland has collected these reports for the first time in one volume, along with his analysis and insider perspective as a member of the investigative team. The phenomena described within represent the continuation of a decades-long series of events first recorded in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the late ’60s, but that has likely been with humanity since our advent, and seems just as likely to be with us until our end.”
With that said, onto the review. Before I get to the actual story, though, I should stress that this is a very well-written book. It is filled with atmosphere, menace, intrigue and mystery. Of course, for a story that revolves around the Mothman phenomenon, it has to be readable and a definitive page-turner. It is. There are a few nods here and there in the direction of H.P. Lovecraft. For example, the words “gibbous” and “moon” (together, of course) pop up now and again, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it adds to what is an undeniably weird story. One of the reasons why I was looking forward to reading The Lake Michigan Mothman was because to a fair degree the story parallels some of the accounts that Lon Strickler detailed in his 2017 book, Mothman Dynasty: Chicago’s Winged Humanoids.
There’s a significant reason why the books differ. You can find a very important statement from Tobias on pages 32-33. He writes: “Personally, anything I received that I couldn’t contact the witness about went straight into our Reports from the Void column.” Tobias continued: “But Lon preferred to publish everything he received that he couldn’t prove was a hoax.” Those concise words serve to demonstrate the very different approaches to the overall investigations of both men. What we have with The Lake Michigan Mothman is a captivating study – a book written in the style of a journal or a diary. It allows the reader to understand and appreciate the feelings, the highs, the baffling nature of the whole affair, and even the significant frustrations of both Tobias and his wife, Emily, as they sought out the answers to what was seen flying in the skies above on those darkness-filled 2017 nights.
Tobias reveals reports from people who saw large, humanoid, red-eyed figures that are sometimes referred to in the pages of the book by the eyewitnesses as “gargoyles.” Others suggested that the creatures they saw were not too dissimilar to the “Jeepers Creepers” monster in the 2001 movie of the same name. Some described the thing(s) as looking like giant birds. Encounters with huge, winged things that resembled pterodactyls are detailed and dissected, too. And, in a good, balanced fashion, Tobias makes it clear that there was a degree of faking going on, too, over the period of the investigation. In other words, he had no time for the wide-eyed “I want to believe” factor. If Tobias thought faking was afoot, he said so. Moving on, there are, thankfully, a number of intriguing photos in the pages of the book, along with pictures of local areas where some of the incidents went down. And the parallels between Mothman in 2017 and Mothman in the period 1966-1967 – when John Keel was investigating the original Mothman in Point Pleasant, West Virginia – are made obvious. A sense of impending doom, of people falling sick after seeing the 2017 creature, of a UFO presence, and a feeling of distinct unease in the area collectively serve to note that The Lake Michigan Mothman and Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies are not at all too different, in terms of the many and varied encounters the respective authors uncovered, investigated and detailed in their books.
Add to all of that, stories of blood moon rituals, thought-forms, inter-dimensional entities, John Keel’s “Ultraterrestrials,” and much more, and what you have is an excellent story. It’s a story told by a man with a good handle on atmospheric writing; someone who knows how to conduct an investigation, and who kept his head on his shoulders at all times – which was surely not easy to achieve, given those wild times that saw a man pursuing a monster for two years.