Although the subject seemed interesting beforehand, I’ve never been a fan of cryptozoology, but when I got started with Chasing American Monsters: Over 250 Creatures, Cryptids & Hairy Beasts, by Jason Offutt, I was greeted by a gentle mix of it with legends, folklore and myths, which support several of the creatures he presents. I’m glad this was my first serious reading on the topic.
The book presents a chapter for each state in the USA, in which the author explores the myths, legends, strange beings (and things, that’s for sure) that have been seen in their territory. Some of them seems to be harmless, but I lost count of how many of them are actually dangerous and even deadly.
From aliens to lake monsters, including legendary creatures such as Bigfoot, possible governmental experiments gone mad, werewolves, big foots, vampires, and a wide repertoire of Native American legends that could be real, Chasing American Monsters is surely a must-have for anyone who wants to get started in the topic of cryptozoology, or that has any kind of interest in folklore and myths.
Although it can sound boring and built on a too tight structure to have them organized by state and follow the same formula in 50 chapters, the book kept all my attention while I read it, except when I didn’t like the creatures for personal preferences (blame me, I prefer the wilder and weirder) or though that Jason Offutt could have included more details about some of them.
There were some cases that didn’t quite fit in Chasing American Monsters. Some of them were cases in which it was just one person who saw the creature, and sometimes they were not even sure if what they saw was a real being or a product of their imagination. That was the impression I had given their testimonies.
It was interesting to have a full picture, and in some cases it is the best option not to leave anything behind, but the inconsistences and lack of details lessened the overall impact of the stories as a collective. It was more entertaining and shocking to discover different perspectives and testimonies of many people having encounters with the same being despite their differences.
Maybe if they had had an exclusive chapter for them, a one-time events section, the result would have been more flattering. All of the creatures Jason Offutt featured made this a good book, but knowing more about some of them or being a bit picky about which cases should be included in Chasing American Monsters would have made it even better.
However, the author did an amazing job recollecting all the data; that is undeniable. He surely knows what he’s speaking about, and you can feel the passion in each of the cases. Personally, I feel the need to know more, discover more about them, and who knows what I could find myself with? The desire to challenge science, rationality and what’s commonly accepted is more alluring after you read Chasing American Monsters.
We humans need monsters, as Jason Offutt said, and I strongly agree with him. Each culture has their own fears and dreams, their dangers and opportunities, and these will be inevitably reflected in their lore while they develop as a society, that’s how I see it, and how I think we should first see this book: as a window to a deeper understanding of each state and its history. Now, you never know when one of those “fears” could eat you alive.
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (March 8, 2019)
Publication Date: March 8, 2019
About the Author
Jason Offutt teaches journalism at Northwest Missouri State University. He’s the author of four previous books on paranormal topics, including Haunted Missouriand Paranormal Missouri (Schiffer), in addition to several novels. He has been interviewed on Whitley Strieber’s Dreamland, Destination America, Binnall of America, Darkness Radio, The Paracast, and other prominent paranormal podcasts.
About the Reviewer
Bader Saab is a digital journalist and solitary, eclectic witch interested in the darker side of magic and divination. Besides reading and writing, Bader also enjoys studying the Gothic subculture, which he belongs to, learning new languages and making endless lists of movies, music and the like. He can be found on Instagram as @saab.bader.