I'm as open-minded as the next person and have always had an interest in things that go 'bump' in the night, thought to be honest i've never actually believed they really existed.
After reading this excellent book I can confirm that I still don't believe in ghosts, vampires, ghouls, zombies, werewolves or other night-crawlers but thats exactly what I enjoyed about this book: It never tries to convince you that these creatures do exist.
The book simply tells you the history surrounding these ancient evils and where the legends, stories and tales originate from and how they were shaped into the familiar monsters we know and love today such as the dread vampire Dracula. The author is always very careful to look at the information he has objectively and staunchly sits on the fence...which I think is very important in order to maintain credibility.
The book isn't layed out as an 'encyclopedia' in the strictest sense. Its more of a collection of stories and ancient anecdotes created by a deeply religious and Superstitious population hundreds of years ago (as well as a few more recent tales) you get the impression that it was mostly fear that created these tales rather than the actual 'truth'. Even the so-called 'confessions' of the unfortunate people accused of being werewolves were always extracted after prolonged and brutal torture. I would think after which, you'd happily confess to anything just to end the pain.
All in all a very interesting and entertaining book which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in learning more about the myths and truths surrounding the undead and their origins, some of which are very surprising...
The only way I would improve the book would be to add more pictures and make them colour rather than black and white
This book itself is very nice to own. The cover is beautiful and evokes a wonderful, chilling atmosphere. The entries are varied, some taking up as little as a paragraph, others sprawling over many pages, divided into categories such as 'vampires', 'werewolves', 'zombies' and 'The horrors of HP Lovecraft' so whatever it is about the undead or the supernatural that piques your interest you will find something in here. The only thing that really spoils this book is how poorly edited it seems to be. So many words are misspelled or used in error, and in some cases sentences seem badly ordered, as if they were rephrased with some of the original words left in. This is a real shame as it really interferes with my enjoyment of this book!
This isn't the stuff of Hollywood, it is much more of an academic tome and I found it so boring it could be just as easily a series of political biographies. Most of the book seems to be heavily biassed towards exploring the traditional legends of vampires and werewolves. On a positive notes I would guess this book would be of great interest to fans of Gothica, though it won't hold the attention of teenagers - but should it do so it might greatly worry their parents!