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This review is from: Breverton's Phantasmagoria: A Compendium of Monsters, Myths and Legends (Hardcover)
I got this on a whim, after seeing it as a recommended product (after purchasing 'The Science of Monsters' by Matt Kaplan), and I definitely don't regret it! I got a used copy, an old library book apparently, but there's no damage apart from a bit of a cracked spine and the obvious library paraphernalia (barcodes, stamped checkout sheaf etc). No graffiti, the pages are clean, there's no tearing or graffiti.
I love myths, legends, bizarre history, supernatural creatures and fantastical tales, so this book was perfect for me! It's split nicely into sections: 1) Mysterious, Magical and Weird People, 2) Mythical Monsters, Ghosts and Things That Go Bump in the Night, 3) Magical Places of Legend and Reality, 4) Flying Monsters, Mysteries, Odd Happenings, Strange Sightings and Legends, 5) Mysteries of the Deep, 6) Strange Artifacts, Buildings, Maps and Writings, 7) Tales of Secret Treasure, and 8) The Reality of Legends and Myths.
I had trouble deciding where to start first! I found the book to be well written, nicely formatted (each new mysterious, magical or weird person - for example - was arranged alphabetically through the chapter, so it was easy to go back and re-read things about certain people), and informative. None of the sections go into great detail (you'd need a much bigger book than this one!), but the have enough of the details to inform the reader, and intrigue them into finding out more! It's a good reference book for the bizarre, and it's one I'll be reading more than once!
The writing style is quite casual, which I like, not dry like it could have been. There's a great mix of fact (or should that be 'fact') and funny, which has me laughing aloud quite often (Pope Joan for example - tragic what happened to her, but the bit about the sedia stercoraria seats was hilarious to imagine).
It's a good reference book, which summarises the long complicated tales (such as the Greek gods, or Hercules's tasks) into short informative sections, and contains enough information to get the basic idea without overwhelming the reader. I think it'd be a good book for writers to own, as quite a lot of the bits I read set my imagination going!
All in all, a fantastic book which I love, and will enjoy reading again. Well worth the price, great quality, and well-written. Not much more than you could ask for!
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