Friday, 29 August 2008

Vampire rabbits, ghostly swans, and mystery cats...

Mystery Animals Of Northumberland & Tyneside by Michael J. Hallowell (Published by CFZ Press 2008)

This is the first book in a unique and lengthy series compiled by The Centre For Fortean Zoology showcasing the strange animal and monster legends from all the counties across Britain. Blessed with a wonderful cover, and consisting of 244 pages, Mike Hallowell has assembled his own investigations of phantom dogs, giant worms, dragons and man-beasts, alongside many black & white photographs.

I believe books like this must be treasured and are a necessity within the cryptozoological field, especially as such volumes highlight so many obscure tales lost to the public. Such books are just as important as huge crypto-volumes, because although cryptozoology is a science, much of it is based on folkloric accounts of weird and wonderful creatures, and the menagerie contained herein certainly gives the reader a colourful insight into Northumberland's unknown beasts. However, although Mike's writing style is entertaining, I wish the more down-to-earth books were still bereft of obscenities. I'm not a holy guy by any means, but is there any point in such language ? Okay, this is a minor fault, because this book not only covers the flesh and blood side of mystery animals but also the 'zooform' creatures which is why it is covered on this website. Unfortunately, and this is another gripe of mine, categorising the local 'big cat', in this case the Cleadon Panther, is all too sensational as I shall continuously state, and in the said chapter I was also baffled by the mentions of a black cat and yet the answers to the mystery concerning escaped/released pumas. Of course, pumas are not black, and whilst the press are certainly to blame for such statements, I didn't read of one mention of a black leopard.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tales of The Dolly Pit Hell Hounds, The Felton Rabbit etc, and recommend this book to anyone looking to investigate the mysteries of their local area. The series of books will certainly prove to be valuable not only now as great guides, but also in the future when other researchers and the likes are looking to unravel the lesser known mysteries of their region.

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