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Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Legendary Beasts of Britain

Legendary Beasts of BritainLegendary Beasts of Britain by Julia Cresswell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Shire Books are short, heavily illustrated introductions to a variety of British subjects. Considering how many they've published, including one on spoons, I'm surprised they haven't done one on legendary creatures. Well, good things come to those who wait. This is a fascinating look at the origins and development of unicorns, dragons, wyverns, griffins, and more.

Despite its small size, the author manages to pack in a lot of information. By the time you finish this you'll know the difference between your mermaids and your selkies, your unicorns and your yales. You'll also learn several old legends and tall tales from times past.

Creswell digs up some interesting images beyond the usual ones we often see. For example, there are several photos of misericords, those little benches they put in churches to lean against while you're standing. They were often carved with mythical beasties and make for an interesting study in unusual church art.

Since this is an examination of traditional beasts, newer appearances such as aliens and globsters don't make the cut, but you'll still find Alien Big Cats (which go back further than I thought) and everyone's beloved lake monster, Nessie.

I recommend this for anyone looking for a primer on the folklore of Great Britain. It makes for good fodder for writers too!

View all my reviews


  1. Alien Big Cats? Now I need to know more.

  2. I've never heard of misericords. It's such a cool name and sounds like it should be something a lot more interesting than benches to lean on, right? lol

  3. Hi Sean - this looks really interesting .. thanks for bringing it to our attention - I love the Shire books - they were good resources when I talked to my mother and I could show her the pictures. She'd have loved to hear about these beasties too ...

    Cheers Hilary

  4. What a neat book! I might just have to get that.

    By the way, Hilary Melton Butcher sent me over. :)


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