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Review of "The Monster Hunter's Handbook" by

26 June 2010

The author is my eldest son, Ibrahim, now aged 30. He has always been interested in the classics since he read "The Iliad" at the age of nine. Ibrahim obtained a first in classics from Newcastle University, and then an MPhil and PhD from Manchester University.

While he has been writing things for many years, it was still a wonderful surprise for me when I arrived home a few years ago and my youngest daughter ran to tell me "Ibrahim has sold his book!"  I was never allowed to read the book while Ibrahim was working on it.  Instead, I got to read it only after it was published.

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but when I read the book, it was a complete surprise.  It is quite short, just over 200 pages with a number of those pages devoted to a full-page illustration.  About two thirds of the book goes through a list of mythical monsters, alphabetically from basilisk to zombie.  The remaining third deals with mythical weapons from the armour of Achilles to the helmet and sword of Turnus.

While an enumeration of this type sounds quite dull, when I started reading the book I was struck by its light style and how easy it was to read. At times I found myself laughing out loud.  In particular, look up the key weakness of the manticore, as it is particularly funny.  It was only after I was well into the book that I noticed the publisher had classified it as humour on the back cover.

While I am inevitably biased, I do recommend this book if you would like some light relief.  Even though I have a long-standing interest in the classics myself, it also added to my knowledge.  For example I had never quite been sure what a golem was before!


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