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The Monster Hunter's Handbook    by Ibrahim S. Amin order for
Monster Hunter's Handbook
by Ibrahim S. Amin
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

You only have to look as far as your own TV screen to know that the paranormal genre has taken off like never before, but our fascination with mythical beasts and the threat they pose to mankind has spanned centuries. In The Monster Hunter's Handbook, Amin brings together two volumes of work. One deals with cryptozoology ('the study of creatures considered by the world at large to be mythical'), while the other covers cryptohoplology ('the study of weapons and armor considered by the world at large to be mythical').

Part one, Monsters: A Guide to Aggressive Cryptozoology, introduces the reader to the realities of hunting monsters. Amin asks, 'why would you want to hunt monsters'? The answer, apparently, is simple. 'Would you know what to do if a vampire burst into your home at night? Would you know how to defend your loved ones if you were walking through a forest and were suddenly attacked by a rampaging werewolf? Even if you do not plan to go searching for a monster, there is no guarantee that the monster will not come searching for you.'

You have to admit, it's an intriguing argument. And so begins an alphabetical listing of monsters, ranging from the fierce basilisk to the always creepy brain-eating zombie. Each entry offers a description of the beast, and, of course, the best way to slay the monster. At the end of each entry is a short summary that outlines the key elements of each creature, and a listing of literary sources, from where further description and information can be gleaned.

Part two, Enchanted Steel: A Guide to Cryptohoplology, deals with magical armor and weapons. As Amin tells us, 'whether one is merely a collector of historical arms, or a monster hunter who desires to actually use these artifacts when hunting fearsome beasts, surely the thought of possessing such objects is tantalizing indeed.' Each object, from Achilles' Armor to Turnus's Helmet and Sword, includes a description, suggestions for combative applications, and once again a listing of literary sources.

At this time of the year, The Monster Hunter's Handbook would make a wonderful gift for a horror fan, a fantasy reader or a writer. And of course, we can't ignore the more practical applications of such a manual. If a vampire does in fact break into your home over the holiday season, you'll know just how to deal with him.

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