Encyclopedia of Monsters

Encyclopedia of Monsters Book Cover Encyclopedia of Monsters
Daniel Cohen
Avon Books

The Encyclopedia of Monsters is an authoritative guide to every kind of monster, ranging from the Abominable Snowman to werewolves. The book includes creatures of lakes and rivers, of sea, the land and the air. There is a description of each creature's curious physical characteristics, it's habits and probable location.

The book also gives accounts of expeditions in search of various monsters and a brief history of how and when each monster was sighted. The many photographs and drawings shed further light on an elusive subject.

Some of the monsters described in this volume have been exposed as hoaxes or myths. Daniel Cohen gives the background of these legends, explaining how they evolved. And in the case of hoaxes, he tells how these ingenious frauds were produced.


The Encyclopedia of Monsters is just that, an encyclopedia. This guide reads the same as any other stoic reference book so it may not be for everyone. Even though the general term “monsters” is used, most of the book focuses on cryptozoology with the exception being the last section, Weird Creatures in Folklore. Here we will break down the book one section at a time so readers know what they are in for.

Section 1 is Humanoids, which more or less deals with Bigfoot and similar creatures. Most everything in here is a “missing link” type of animal; something that lays somewhere in-between man and primate.

Section 2 is titled Land Monsters and is much more diverse than Section 1. Walking on land is about the only thing that these creatures have in common across the board. Some are mammals like the American Elephant, some are reptiles like the Giant Anaconda, and some have even been proven to exist since their initial classification as cryptids, such as the Okapi.

Section 3, Monster Birds and Bats, is the shortest section of the book with a mere five entries. Only one of the five is a type of bat, so this section could have actually made the word “bat” singular in the section heading.

Section 4 borders into the realm of the supernatural, being titled Phantoms. These are reported creatures that have a habit of being heard but never seen. Or if they are seen, you are guaranteed dead so no living person has ever reported it. How someone knows what a creature no living person has ever seen is anyone’s guess.

Section 5 puts us back in the corporeal realm with River and Lake Monsters. It should come to no surprise that the Loch Ness Monster receives the largest amount of pages in this section. Some of the other creatures in here are similar to Nessie while others differ entirely.

Section 6 bears similarities on the previous section, focusing on Sea Monsters. Many creatures in here are well known, such as sea serpents, giant octopi, and the kraken. Stories of sea beasts have existed for as long as people have sailed, giving plenty of content to this section.

Section 7 is titled Visitors from Strange Places and primarily deals with supposed alien life. Not everything included here originated as an alien story; some were indoctrinated later as tales of UFOs started to grow wilder and more popular, such as Spring-Heeled Jack. Regardless, other stories are more traditional with little green men, flying saucers, and probably anal probes.

Section 8 wraps up the book with Weird Creatures in Folklore. Most of these subjects are touched upon very lightly; many of them, especially ones that have variations through cultures worldwide like dragons and zombies, can cover entire books singlehandedly. While some are more recent stories like the Jersey Devil, most are things you would expect to see in fairy tales or bad horror movies.

On the whole, Encyclopedia of Monsters does a good job of summing up the information it provides. Seeing as Daniel Cohen originally published this in 1982 the information is nowhere near up-to-date, but it is still a good reference book. The language is straightforward in a “presenting the facts” kind of way. Some of the cryptids in here have been proven to be hoaxes but were still included to more fully show the history of cryptozoology. As a general reference guide, this book is excellent; as a straight-through read you may find it a bit slow.

October 16, 2016

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