Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Review: A Practical Guide to Monsters

Let's face it: You never know when you'll need a guide to monsters. A Behir or a Chimera could be lurking in any city alleyway and it's wise to be ready. Fortunately, the good folks at Mirrorstone have issued A Practical Guide to Monsters so you'll "be prepared to defend yourself on a quest of your own."

Written by Nina Hess, A Practical Guide to Monsters covers the basics of monster protection and details the types of monsters you may be unlucky enough to meet. Monsters are described in great detail, with particular emphasis placed on their weaknesses or how to defend yourselves against them. Take, for example, this section from the Gargoyle entry:

"Gargoyles are well suited as guards in particular. They wait motionless above the threshold, assuming the face of a sculpture, until a visitor arrives at the door. Then, they swoop down to interrogate the guest. If you're unlucky enough to be deemed an unwanted visitor, be prepared to fight!"

Monsters are classified by type and include Creepy Crawlers, Flying Fiends, Viperous Villains, Sneaky Shapeshifters, Gruesome Goblinoids, Mammoth Monsters, Unsightly Undead (yuck), Otherworldly Outsiders, and my favorite, Awful Aberrations. Each monster has its own fact sheet and several have detailed plans of their "lairs" included. A team of illustrators--Emily Fiegenschuh, Seth Trott, Eva Widermann, and Sam Wood--lovingly depict the horrible monsters, while cartographers provide gorgeous, old-fashioned illustrations of armor and protective equipment.

A Practical Guide to Monsters will appeal both to fantasy fans and to children (ages five to eleven) who love encyclopedic non-fiction. Give it to them with a clove of garlic and an iron stake, and watch their eyes light up.