Cryptozoology, (the science of identifying and describing creatures from myth, folklore and legend) has always been a rich subject for both serious discussion and humorous expression; in her new book, Fiona Bowron has a crack at the later – playing for laughs and taking a whimsical approach to the cryptid natural world with varying degrees of success.
In putting together this book, Bowron has chosen her own categorization scheme based on her perception of how easy or difficult a particular cryptid might be to manage, their suitability to domestic life and, oddly, a category based on their investment value. The actual list of creatures is very impressive ranging from the well-known beasts like Yeti and mermaids through lesser known examples like Orang Pendek and Dobhar-chu right up to little known legends including the giant bat, Ahool and noisy sounding Ozark Howler. For all but the most obscure entries, Bowron gives advice on feeding, habitat and other nuggets of ‘useful’ information – where the information is based on actual documented research it is frequently funny and insightful but now and then the author tries to spin some spurious yarn of her own and, unfortunately, the joke wears thin.
The handy-sized hardback is illustrated in colour throughout by the art of Tom Jennings who has an impressive body of work including some lovely drawings in Jennifer Saunders’ autobiography, Bonkers; Jennings takes a stab at artistically interpreting some of the better-known monsters and cryptobeasts, it’s a shame that the pictures, like the gags, are a little bit flat.
So, in all, this book is a pleasant confection alongside the main course of more serious publications in this field and it’s possible the humorous veneer might last a little longer if you dip into it from time to time, as the author herself suggests, at your leisure.
HOW TO KEEP A WEREWOLF: AND OTHER EXOTIC PETS WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT A) EXIST OR B) EAT YOU / AUTHOR: FIONA BOWRON / PUBLISHER: PORTICO / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 13TH