Deena West Budd,
The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology
(Red Wheel/Weiser, 2010)

Having been gravely disappointed with The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts by Raymond Buckland, I approached The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology with some trepidation.

But author Deena West Budd has swept my worries aside. Where Buckland approached his subject in a dry, seemingly random fashion, Budd tackles cryptozoology with zest. Her enthusiasm for the topic is refreshing, and it made reading this volume a pleasure.

Budd is complete in her handling of creatures -- known as cryptids -- that may or may not exist. Obvious examples are Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, but this book covers a wealth of lesser-known cryptids, from diminutive frog-men and overgrown kangaroos to bunyips, mothmen and the elusive giant octopus.

This book is by no means an exhaustive account of evidence for or against the existence of these creatures. The evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, would fill many volumes. Instead, Budd skips lightly through her subject, giving a brief overview of 40 or so likely candidates.

In each case, she describes the entities involved, provides specifics of some sightings over the years, mentions evidence that might exist and supplies theories about their origins. She also supplies a few clues how you might find them or, if more prudent, avoid them entirely.

That might sound like dull stuff, but it's not. Budd limits each entry to a few pages, and she approaches each with the excitement of a kid on Christmas. She might not know for sure if these guys exist, but she really hopes they do.

And so do I. The world should have a few mysteries, and I like to think there are furry people, massive birds and other critters that have successfully hidden from our eyes.

book review by
Tom Knapp

20 November 2010

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