“Monsters: An Investigator’s Guide To Magical Beings” is quintessential reading for the field-based investigator … and armchair-based ones, too.
Surprisingly, it’s not about the cryptids we know and love. Big Foot barely gets mentioned.
No, this book focuses on magical critters for the most part, but we get some fresh new takes on vampires, werewolves and Chimeras. Really, when’s the last time anyone brought them up?
So, the book’s broken into 4 sections.
- The Nature Of Monsters, which describes the modern world’s response to them
- The Field Guide To Monsters, which has descriptions on a dozen critters (see below)
- The Guide To Monster Investigation, which is the ‘how-to’ part
- Magical Self-Defense, which most investigators will skip … unless you’re the Winchester Bros. If that’s the case, I want an autograph.
Anyway, John Michael Greer (author) sets out an in-depth description (Part 2) of these monsters:
- Ghosts (see my other site about them)
- Werewolves (includes skinwalkers)
- Spirits (non-human entities that aren’t ghosts, demons or angels)
Within each monster, Greer breaks things into chunks like different classifications, natural phenomena to consider, identification, and how to deal with them. In some cases, he includes magical ways to banish the critter.
The Best Parts
You’ll find Part 2 and Part 3 the most interesting. Greer does a fine job of describing each monster, its history, false positives, and how to manage them. To me, the monster subclasses were a fun read. Also, the subsection on identifying monsters was the strongest part of each description. Greer takes a concise, checklist approach, which makes for an efficient use of paper!
Now, as a monster hunter, you’ll probably memorize Part 3, A Guide To Monster Investigation. As a ghost hunter, I found much of my research techniques cross over. If you also hunt ghosts, then you’ll find the 4th section, Magical Self-Defense, a good section to read. Most ghost hunting books skip magical ways to banish a ghost or spirit. Instead, they focus on herbs, stones and psychic methods.
The Worst Parts
How can I put this … Greer has a different perspective on monsters. Some of them won’t fit into your expectations. You can’t necessarily think in terms of what you see on TV or in the movies. In other words, don’t expect traditional takes on cryptids, critters, monsters and entities. If you’re more interested in that, then you probably want Universal Studios’ book of monsters.
The other drawback isn’t really a knock against the book: It’s about your preferences. Greer wrote the book through the lens of a Druid, someone who practices magic in his daily life. That adds a lot more nuance to each description, which I liked.
It can also be a turnoff to some.
Personally, I didn’t mind the different versions of vampires (an energy-siphoning blob), the different levels of being, and magic rituals. But, the magic parts probably won’t help with your investigations. Just skip them and focus on the parts that work for you.
For more advanced monster hunters, you’ll think Part 4 is too basic. If that’s the case, this book isn’t for you. You want a more advanced book on investigation techniques.
MOTW’s Take On “Monsters: An Investigator’s Guide To Magical Beings”
Overall, this is a really good book. I recommend it with a few reservations. If you really think magic is bunk, then you’ll hate half of it. Still, the investigation process, dealing with the critters, how to identify them, and the history of monsters are all solid information to use.
Additionally, this book doesn’t cover your granddaddy’s expectations of cryptids. If you want a book on hodags, dog men, Big Foot, and Nessie, then you should move right on past this one.
You can buy, “Monsters: An Investigator’s Guide To Magical Beings (10th Anniversary Edition)” on Amazon for under $15 in paperback, and $4 on Kindle.
Note: I bought this book with my own money and there is no expectation for a positive review from the author.