Book review for a subject I enjoy, and a book I didn’t.
Not much, anyway.
Werewolves: A Field Guide to Shape-Shifters and Lycanthropes
By Dr. Bob Curran
Cave-paintings of human-animal hybrid creatures show that shape-shifters have been a part of the human imagination since prehistoric times. In this book, Dr. Bob Curran tries to trace the history of shape-shifters—especially werewolves—from those ancient cave-paintings to the werewolves we find in today’s television and cinema.
I was a little disappointed by this book.
It wasn’t that I felt like Curran didn’t do a good job, but apparently there is only so much that can be known about shape-shifters…? I don’t particularly believe that all we know about them is confined to the small range of topics covered in this book, (sorry, but folklore is WAY too diverse for that to be true) and I feel more than a little frustrated that so many writers fail to include information that I haven’t already come across in other sources.
Plus there was the issue of misspellings and omitted words in a lot of pages. Um…hello? Proofread much? That may be the fault of the editor/printer though, so I won’t take that out on Dr. Curran.
There was one section in the book that piqued my interest though and made my reading it not such a complete waste…
There are apparently lots of stories from ancient times on through the medieval period about a race of dog-headed people called the Cynocephali, and some of the medieval stories involve these dog-headed people either becoming Christians and being “cured” of their doggy appearances, or retaining their dog features and going out as missionaries to the dog-people.
These are pretty typical medieval conversion stories, even if they do have dog-people in them…but I was curious to learn that St. Christopher is one of the Cynocephali.
My family used to be Catholic, and the church we went to was called St. Christopher, after this saint. I am sort of disappointed that I didn’t pick him for the goofy Saint reports we did in some of the grades. I’m sure I’d’ve been fascinated to learn that he was a dog person. 😛
But yeah, aside from that the book was nothing great. I did pick up another werewolf book from an author looking at the subject from an occult perspective rather than a historical one, but I haven’t read it yet.