My mother bought this book for me from our local library about twenty years ago and remains a sentimental favorite of mine to this day. The book seems to have been written for younger readers,but is a decent introduction to the world of the paranormal. The book is 144 pages long and is broken down into 5 chapters:Creatures of Mystery(about Bigfoot,the Loch Ness Monster,etc),Mysterious Powers Of Mind And Spirit(ghosts,psychic phenomena),Mysteries Science Can't Explain(UFO's,auras,spontaneous combustion),Witchcraft,Sorcery,And The Occult,and Mysterious Disappearances.
I can't say that this book has anything new or revolutionary to offer about any of the above subjects(to be fair,it came out in 1976),but my young mind(I was about 7 or 8 years old when I got the book)was enthralled by the tales of vampires,werewolves,witches,and mermen,which the authors treat as if they may well be fact. I dug this book out recently and was reminded of how much this book grabbed me back then.
Today,I am more fascinated with the illustrations than anything else. The artist's name is Alan Lee,an artist whose work I have never encountered before or since. His greatest strength is portraying fantastic occurences and beings in a realistic manner,much like Alex Ross does with superheroes. My favorite illustrations were pages 9(a magnificent dragon),23(a beautiful mermaid),58(haunting portayal of a boy having a nightmare about his father drowning),95(aerial battle between Hindu deities),102 and 103(double page spread of a witches sabbath,complete with a depiction of Memnoch,witches flying on brooms, and lots of wild looking demons.This would make a great album cover for a metal band),136(various whimsical depictions of leprechauns and elf-like creatures),and finally 139(a sad illustration of 5 aliens stranded in a cave on Earth.One of them is injured,and the one who appears to be their leader looks at his fallen comrade with despair in his eyes. I remember thinking to myself "What's going to happen to them?",only to read below "So they hid in the caves,where it appears,they were hunted down and killed").
The Golden Book Of The Mysterous is a nice curio for those interested in cryptozoology and the unexplained and a treasure for the fan of fantasy art. Never before or since have I seen a book bring the "shadowlands" of history and science to life with such beauty and imagination.I can only hope that this book is reissued. Perhaps with new chapters and illusrations? I'd love to see Alan Lee tackle the Mothman,the Jersey Devil,the Goat Man,and the Chupacabra.Maybe a trading card set? Pleeease?