The World of Lore

The World of Lore

Monstrous Creatures

Book - 2017
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"The first book in a three-volume collection, The World of Lore, Monstrous Creatures shares the incredible true stories that inspired the legends of famous monsters, from werewolves to wendigo to the Jersey Devil"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Del Rey, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781524797966
Characteristics: 299 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Monstrous creatures

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From Library Staff

I listen to the Lore podcast and was very much looking forward to this book. Lore explores folktales and legends and how they came to be as well as how they live on. This particular book goes over the different creatures that have filled folklore over the years, such as ghosts, the Jersey Devil, ... Read More »


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ArapahoeKati Nov 05, 2018

A great read for fall. I love Aaron Mahnke's podcast and it's so easy to "hear" him as you read because his voice is so distinct. A bit creepy and very informative.

o
otterno11
Oct 31, 2018

I had been aware of the popular podcast Lore, apparently now also a show on Amazon, and though I heard good things, I never got around to listening to it. When I noticed this book at the library, I was intrigued and checked it out on the spot, always on the lookout for atmospheric autumnal reading.

Since childhood, I’d always been a fan of those anthologies of unexplained mysteries, real life accounts of the paranormal, and weird folktales, and, I’d wager, Aaron Mankhe was too. Authors like Daniel Cohen, Maria Leach, and many others populated the school libraries and Scholastic book club forms of my youth, purveying dozens of collections of “true” ghost stories, urban legends, cryptids, and other such believe it or not tales. I couldn’t get enough. So, in reading Mahnke’s The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures, I was definitely hit with a certain nostalgia.

However, because of this, none of it seemed very fresh to me, either. While he avoids the glaringly obvious, like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Roswell, et cetera, none of the stories Mahnke includes are exactly obscure. If you are at all into this stuff, as I am, you are bound to have encountered the majority of these stories before. Mahnke hits all the popular ones, Mercy Brown, the Jersey Devil, “Bloop,” the mothman, the windigo, the Beast of Bray Road, the Fox Sisters, they all make an appearance. For the most part there was very little I hadn’t already read about, often in the aforementioned works, and at the same time, Mahnke provides few new insights or ideas to these stories, either.

As I read through the book, Mahnke’s writing also began to grate on me a bit. Other reviews indicate that these are the actual podcast scripts and this did not surprise me at all, as the writing style is exceedingly conversational, almost to a distraction. For the most part, these are rather superficial, shallow treatments of folkloric themes with little analysis and a lot of vague generalities. For instance, in setting up each tale, Mahnke engages in such banal platitudes as “our connection to animals is nearly as old as humanity itself,” “there’s something dark and mysterious about the ocean,” and “there are a lot of differences between the northern and southern states in America.” As seen in the these examples, there are certain turns of phrases and ideas that pop up again and again, often variations of that old term paper cliche “since the dawn of time…”

There is also often an odd credulity to these retellings, and while Mahnke often tut tuts the silly superstitions of these people who had such an “inferior” understanding of the world than our own (problematic by itself), he also spends much time hinting that maybe there was something supernatural at work after all. While including a bibliography and sources for each chapter, it mostly seemed like each chapter consists of simple summaries of a few thoughts and ideas gleaned from blogs, articles in popular magazines or websites (i.e., The Atlantic, or NPR), or books on the subject, with little attempt to access the reliability of the tales.

That’s not to say any of this is all bad, of course. I would have loved this as a kid, and as many of those dusty paperbacks I loved are now long out of print, and out of date, The World of Lore seems highly appropriate for weirdness-curious tweens and I’d happily recommend it to them. The illustrations, by M.S. Corley, were all pretty neat, too. If nothing else, it let me know that there is no need for me to devote any more time to Lore.

d
deebitner
Aug 22, 2018

First, a small disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Mahnke’s podcast, Lore. I urge you to give it a listen if you like creepy history, told by a guy who knows his subject matter and has a really nice speaking voice and good storytelling rhythm. That said, this book and its companion volume, “Wicked Mortals,” are their own experience and well worth the read. I’ve said before “I am not the target audience for this book” in other reviews. Friends, I am the target audience for this book.

Mahnke opens with a bang, taking on the subject of vampires as the initial topic. He talks about cases in the US, in Europe, and how vampire lore is different around the world. From there he moves on to stories of werewolves, the Jersey Devil, big flying critters from thunderbirds to the Mothman, and more. He does tell stories I hadn’t heard before, and he tells them well.

What stands out is his writing voice, which will annoy some people but I love to read. Mahnke has a delightfully snarky humor - on more than one occasion, he mocks people running into the dark after barely-seen things - and doesn’t actually believe in ghosts or monsters. As a result, his take is often refreshingly skeptical. Even he isn’t immune to the temptation to do the equivalent of “it was just the wind - OR WAS IT??” But when he does it, it’s pretty obvious what he’s doing. If you can’t get into that, or you assume that mocking the tale is mocking the reader, you won’t like this book. On the other hand, if you do like that style, it’s a great read for 3am.

Five of five stars.

ReadingAdviser_Sally Mar 21, 2018

If you are a big fan of Aaron Mahnke's podcast this may not be 100% for you. The stories in this book are interesting, engaging, chilling and all basically exactly what his podcast is content wise. I think some of the wording may be the exact same. That said- this is an excellent collection of creepy stories about monsters in folk lore.

LesliePACL Jan 10, 2018

I've always enjoyed fairy tales and folklore. Mahnke tells stories in a compelling manner to engage the reader. This book contains many stories from his podcast by the same name.

OatmealThunder Dec 13, 2017

Interesting summaries of strange cases from history. Very conversational tone that makes you feel as if the author is speaking to you as a friend.

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OatmealThunder Dec 13, 2017

OatmealThunder thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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