Breverton’s Phantasmagoria by Terry Breverton. Quercus £9.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn
The tag line is “A compendium of monsters, myths and legends”, and the book is just that. Terry Breverton has brought together a galaxy of the weird, the paranormal, the strange creatures and beliefs that our ancestors once believed. Unlike many such books, this one is not simply an A-Z of beasties. Instead, we have eight chapters dealing with specific themes, such as “Mysterious, Magical and Weird People”, “Mysteries of the Deep” and “Tales of Secret Treasures”. Each chapter is, then, arranged with A-Z entries, so we end up with bite-sized snippets of information on, for example, The Babushka Lady, William Lilly, Teothihucan, Mother Carey’s Chickens and the Loch Ness Monster. Because the book covers so much ground in its 380 pages, the individual articles do not go into much depth. However, if you are looking for a brief explanation or description, Phantasmagoria is a good book with which to start off.
Okay, yes, of course one may Google the Amphisbaena Tortoise or Chessie … but that’s not the point with this book. You can browse its pages, stopping at an article when something catches your eyes, and maybe discovering something you didn’t know, or something that you can use in your next story.
Breverton’s Phantasmagoria is a beautifully designed publication. The two-column pages are printed in a brown ink, embellished with many sepia-tinted illustrations. Maybe it’s not as filled out as the Element encyclopaedias, but Phantasmagoria will make a fine gift for anyone with an interest in monsters, myths and legends.