I was working in the library late one night, when my eyes beheld an eerie sight; for a monster from his slab began to rise, and suddenly to my surprise… he gave me a book. So let’s mash up The Encyclopedia of Monsters, by Jeff Rovin.
Whether it’s a blood-drinking vegetable (The Thing) or a bronze-skinned Gorgon whose snake-topped head turns people to stone (Medusa), monsters have always fascinated people with their astonishing power, size and appearance. Monsters represent the exotic, the spectacular and, of course, the frightening; the stir our sense of wonder.
In THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MONSTERS, Jeff Rovin, author of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SUPERHEROES and THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SUPERVILLAINS, has called up all the fiends, specters, werewolves, mummies, creatures, demons and living dead that have chilled and thrilled since the beginning of time. Here, in all their astonishing forms are monsters from every imaginable medium: films, comics, television, folklore, mythology, literature, and more.
Ranging from the familiar and beloved Frankenstein Monster to lesser knowns such as Uranian Brain and newcomers like Alien, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MONSTERS tells all. The Introduction provides a history of monsters, starting in 4000 B.C. with the Egyptians’ monstrous gods, continuing with the Babylonians’ Gilgamesh and including the lore of the Hebrews, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Norse and Slavs. But the greatest number of monsters have been produced in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the advent of motion pictures, television, comic books and computer games.
Source: The book; and here’s a Goodreads link
As an inveterate book reader, I spent many a childhood day at the local library. Amongst the many volumes on its shelves, I discovered a weighty tome entitled The Encyclopedia of Monsters. It was classified as a reference book and could not be checked out; so each time I visited, I would take it to a table and read for as long as I was able. I was fascinated by the fantastical and macabre creatures described within: the gigantic beasts, the bizarre aliens, the gruesome demons. Even after I became an adult, my nostalgia for this book remained strong; and as soon as I’d acquired some disposable income, I purchased a copy for myself.
The book’s style is fairly simple. Proceeding in alphabetical order, it fills hundreds of pages with entries about various monsters from mythology, literature, and film. Each entry gives the monster’s name, first appearance, species, sex, size, a description of its notable features and powers, and a short biography summarizing the story or stories it has appeared in.
Now, I should caution any readers not to expect it to conclude any recent cinematic creations; for reference, the xenomorph is referred to as a “newcomer” and its entry only covers Alien and Aliens. The selection process seems to have been weighted towards the oldest and cheesiest of creatures, as it’s a veritable cornucopia of monsters from early B-movies. But looking on the bright side, that makes it an excellent book for Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, as it contains a great number of monsters whose movies have been subjected to the show’s riffing: The Beast of Hollow Mountain, The Crawling Eye, The Green Slime, Repticilus, Yongary, and plenty more.
Unfortunately, not having seen many of these movies myself, I can’t vouch for the book’s accuracy. In the rare instances where I do have knowledge, I’ve spotted hints that it may not be entirely accurate. For instance, in the entry for “The Silurians”, it commits the cardinal sin of referring to the main character of Doctor Who as “Doctor Who” instead of “The Doctor”; and the list of adversaries the Doctor has faced is filled with one-shot oddities like the Zolfa-Thuran while neglecting far more famous races such as, oh, the Daleks and the Cybermen. So you may want to take the details with a grain of salt.
Still, flawed though it might be, I had great fun reading through it and learning about all sorts of bizarre and fantastical creatures from obscure works of fantasy, science fiction, and horror that I never otherwise would have heard about. In recognition of the many hours of enjoyable browsing the book gave me, I’m going to go ahead and forgive any minor errors, the majority of which I’m not familiar enough with the source material to even notice.
Final Rating: 5/5