This is a non-fiction book of anthropological, psychological, biological and paleontological (and more) theories behind the origins of the various international monsters. Many of the monsters are from western culture (Minotaur, Medusa, Frankenstein's Monster, etc.) But there are a number of global monsters as well.
I was immediately drawn to this book. Monsters have always fascinated me, even when I was too scared to watch monster movies. Some people may look at this book like a magician revealing his tricks, but I look at it as a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction scenario. The idea that dragon myths may have originated because of pockets of methane triggered by ancient miners is one that thrills me. I genuinely enjoy the scientific explanations of mythological and supernatural ideas.
The fact that Kaplan presents these theories in an easy-to-read format with a sense of humor and his own sense of wonder is a wonderful bonus. This is a non-fiction but Kaplan does a wonderful job of keeping the book from being dry and boring. His footnotes have good supplementary information and jokes for the reader to enjoy.
I really feel this book was well researched and well written. There was a lot of intriguing information about how the human perspective of the world has changed throughout the ages and continues to change. The theories on why the roles and histories of monsters have changed through the years make sense and give a new appreciation for the monsters that survived so many generations. Seriously, though the role and history of Medusa has changed, she has survived through millennia to still be part of human culture. That is amazing!
If you're looking for a non-fiction that will appeal to your love of fantasy, this is a great pick. If you're even just mildly curious about some of the monsters you love and where they come from, this is a great book to pick up. I really enjoyed reading this and encourage you to pick it up. 4.5 hoots!