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Breverton's Phantasmagoria: A Compendium of Monsters, Myths and Legends

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A superbly illustrated guide to the mysteries of myth, legend, and—gulp!—real life.


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A superbly illustrated guide to the mysteries of myth, legend, and—gulp!—real life.

30 review for Breverton's Phantasmagoria: A Compendium of Monsters, Myths and Legends

  1. 5 out of 5

    Backerbse

    A fun drinking game for this book: Take a drink everytime the author quotes Pliny the Elder, you will be wasted within minutes. This book is nice point to start off if you're interested in myths, fables and conspiracy theories but in my opinion it seems... unfinished or maybe badly edited? It's sorted into chapters like legends about persons, nautical myths, etc. and within these chapters are more or less short paragraphs. It's a good system but the content of the paragraphs is more often than not A fun drinking game for this book: Take a drink everytime the author quotes Pliny the Elder, you will be wasted within minutes. This book is nice point to start off if you're interested in myths, fables and conspiracy theories but in my opinion it seems... unfinished or maybe badly edited? It's sorted into chapters like legends about persons, nautical myths, etc. and within these chapters are more or less short paragraphs. It's a good system but the content of the paragraphs is more often than not made up either entirely of quotes by Pliny the Elder, it seems. These quotes are also really long and most of the time I didn't find them relevant to the title of the paragraph. Case in point: a paragraph titled 'Elephants have no knees' contains an endlessly long Pliny quote that tells us what he observed about elephants never mentioning anything about their knees instead talking about elephants and mice and snakes and whatever. He then quotes St Ambrose who apparently has something to say about elephant's knees but it's like two or three sentences in a paragraph that's about a page and a half long. The chapter title by the way is 'The Reality of Legends and Myths' but mostly it's just another collection of random bits, I guess the author found interesting. It felt like looking at the research materials instead of a finished result which was quite disappointing. Also, in the reference section the author lists seven books, four of which he wrote himself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This is a fantastical compendium that pulls together all the greatest myths and legends from around the world, from magical objects and legendary people and animals to mythical places and hoards of treasure. While this book doesn't have huge amounts of detail for each entry (one could only imagine the size of the book if the author tried that!) it is a superb starting point and the entries do cover the salient points, more than enough to get your imagination flowing. The author uses both contemp This is a fantastical compendium that pulls together all the greatest myths and legends from around the world, from magical objects and legendary people and animals to mythical places and hoards of treasure. While this book doesn't have huge amounts of detail for each entry (one could only imagine the size of the book if the author tried that!) it is a superb starting point and the entries do cover the salient points, more than enough to get your imagination flowing. The author uses both contemporary and ancient accounts (Pliny the Elder makes many a guest appearance) giving the entries depth while keeping them as relevant as possible to modern day readers. The author even adds in his own opinions, which normally I don't like but in this case they are so witty and excellently done I have no complaints what-so-ever. The book also comes complete with superb and beautiful line illustrations including plenty of those mythical beasts that the reader may otherwise struggle to picture (some are truly impressive in their complexity and variety of characteristics). Overall this is a fantastic book, perfect for dipping in and out of and leaving on the coffee table ready for diving into whenever you're at a loose end.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Entertaining, clearly structured, but missed a few things if you ask me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angie Rhodes

    A treasure trove of Myths, Legends and Fairy Stories, I really enjoyed reading this, as it us full of everything I love, The Bogeyman, we all know about him, children all over the world, have heard stories, been frightened of looking under the bed, here you the reader get read about where the legend began, So if you want to be scared and learn about things that go bump in the night, this is for you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Erickson

    This book at times tried to give the impression of a certain allegiance to factuality, which was betrayed by its giving credence to well-known nonsense and an obvious lack of research. This book, among frequent typos, attempts to be a sort of encyclopedia of the mythological and unusual. For the former, it repeats itself endlessly - information read in one entry makes a return in another and another, making for a dull read. For the latter, controversy in cases regarding monsters, aliens, cryptid This book at times tried to give the impression of a certain allegiance to factuality, which was betrayed by its giving credence to well-known nonsense and an obvious lack of research. This book, among frequent typos, attempts to be a sort of encyclopedia of the mythological and unusual. For the former, it repeats itself endlessly - information read in one entry makes a return in another and another, making for a dull read. For the latter, controversy in cases regarding monsters, aliens, cryptids etc. are not treated with any degree of sensible application of evidence. Egregious are the sections on the so called 'mystery of the crystal skulls'. The crystal skulls are treated as a sort of world-defining enigma regarding aliens and the meaning of life on this planet. No reference is made to the well-evidenced idea that such skulls were likely made in European workshops in the nineteenth century, as any Google search will reveal. For cases that have an effect on recent years, Breverton does not address the totality of the available evidence. Breverton does not go into why the Loch Ness monster may be impossible. He merely lists the historical sightings of Nessie and mentions the ones that are definite hoaxes but not the whys or hows of the problem presented of finding an aquatic animal in the vastness of loch Ness. The result is that for more modern unknowns he does not come to the conclusion that myths and legends have an easily-obtained sociological or scientific explanation that doesn't include extraterrestrials or retained dinosaurs - many of his explanations for folk myths include one or the other. That is not to say this is a book full of crackpot discussion of Bigfoot and aliens but that it lacks the discussion of facts that would take it to the level of a good, historically-based book. Breverton definitely offers conventional answers to questions like the origins of mythical animals. This is far from a book that expresses definite ideas regarding the range or diet of Sasquatch. I only feel that the books analysis is very much lacking and where it doesn't miss key pieces of evidence, it does not apply them rigourously enough. I own a copy of this book, but as such, you would have a hard time of convincing me to read it again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    I think any personal library should have at least some reference material included. This compendium of monsters, myths, and legends by Terry Breverton certainly fits the bill. While it is most memorable for its collection of creatures, it also includes listings of magical people and places, strange artefacts (sp), odd writings...it really is an entertaining compendium. There are a lot of contemporary additions as well as notes going back to Pliny the elder. The index included makes it easy to zero I think any personal library should have at least some reference material included. This compendium of monsters, myths, and legends by Terry Breverton certainly fits the bill. While it is most memorable for its collection of creatures, it also includes listings of magical people and places, strange artefacts (sp), odd writings...it really is an entertaining compendium. There are a lot of contemporary additions as well as notes going back to Pliny the elder. The index included makes it easy to zero in on that special something. From aliens, centaurs, and Hannibal's elephants to kraken, Mothman, and Sasquatch; and from ancient air ships, charged particle beams, and Ellora caves to Nazca lines, the terracotta army, and Valhalla, there has to be something that sparks the imagination and provides hours of pondering for anyone. This is one of those books that probably should never find a shelf, instead remaining open on a table or displayed prominently in a well traveled room.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Way too credulous, and occasionally screws up confirmed historical facts in minor fashion--but the large amount of strange materials and loads of cool etched illustrations make it worthwhile.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pascal

    To reliant on too long quotes, but if aquired cheap a worthy investment

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    Myths, fairy tales, monsters, demons, other creatures that go bump in the night or perchance during the day. It is something that has kept mankind occupied since the beginning of time, though over time we began to believe in them less and less. Nevertheless, there are still those among us who believe that despite the loss of faith, they exist. In our imagination. This is the truest case for authors, like yours truly, who has been occupied with mythology since she could read. We have never stoppe Myths, fairy tales, monsters, demons, other creatures that go bump in the night or perchance during the day. It is something that has kept mankind occupied since the beginning of time, though over time we began to believe in them less and less. Nevertheless, there are still those among us who believe that despite the loss of faith, they exist. In our imagination. This is the truest case for authors, like yours truly, who has been occupied with mythology since she could read. We have never stopped believing in fantastical creatures and phenomena. I even think there is more between Heaven and Earth than we can perceive. As I said, since the beginning of history and even before that people have believed in all kinds of aspects of the supernatural. Man has spread itself over the planet and formed new stories to believe and created new things that could potentially bring us harm. Terry Breverton has summed it all up in ‘Breverton’s Phantasmagoria’, the best friend any writer and occultist can have to get spooky in an educational way. Rating: 4 / 5 Writer: Terry Breverton Title: Breverton’s Phantasmagoria Pages: 384 pages Publisher: Quercus Publishing, London Print: 1st print 2011 Language: English Story: There is not much of a story in an encyclopedia, is there? Nevertheless, the information is presented in a pleasant way with short pieces (though some are longer) of text that tell the tale behind the subject. Breverton has done some thorough research and refers quite often to ancient writers such as Herodotus, Pliny the Elder and other historic writers and their contemporaries. When that is done, one can pretty much assume all that is written is legit. Characters: One can say there are no characters in this book or one can say there are too many to sum up. I prefer the latter, because this compendium is not limited to objects, but also covers interesting people of the past, who are characters in and of themselves. Style & Spelling: Though written in simple English without the use of any unknown fancy words, the noting of dates is what really bothers me. Normally it is the day + st of month and then the year, in the book it is simply day/month/year. It makes no sense, at all. Furthermore do adjectives, personal pronouns and prepositions miss on more than one occasion. Perhaps they should have spent a bit more time of the editing, because then it would have been perfect. For now it is still very informative and a splendid collection of all that we cannot explain, but it lacks in the spelling and grammar department. Conclusion: Okay, it might have been a bit weird that I read, if we break it down to the core, an encyclopedia, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will certainly use some of the information in future stories. Especially the less known supernatural occurrences. So if you are a writer or generally interested in mythology, I highly recommend checking this compendium out to discover the hidden mysteries of this world we think we know. Perchance you will come to discover as well that it misses an entry on a monster that is very present among us and still requires further investigation, but also that we can understand it a bit better via this book. See if you can find it and then mister Breverton can expand his brilliant collection a bit more for the world to see. It is time to go monster hunting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tanwen Cooper

    An interested dip into many different monsters, myths and legends. The book is laid out like an encyclopedia, with topics listed alphabetically with a short description of their myth and history. Some of these entries were quite fun while others were a bit more dry and academic, but on the whole they were eminintly readable. These are then separated by topic such as Sea creatures, lost treasures etc. While there were a smattering of creatures from around the world, the book is very much focused An interested dip into many different monsters, myths and legends. The book is laid out like an encyclopedia, with topics listed alphabetically with a short description of their myth and history. Some of these entries were quite fun while others were a bit more dry and academic, but on the whole they were eminintly readable. These are then separated by topic such as Sea creatures, lost treasures etc. While there were a smattering of creatures from around the world, the book is very much focused on European and classical antiquity (Egypt, Greece, Roman Empire) and these are the ones Breverton has gone into in the most detail. I did feel it was let down by the final section about the Reality of the myths. Many of these entries were just large chunks of text quoted from classical sources (which I find difficult to read) about real animals or places. There was also a distinct muddying of which parts of the entries were reality and which were myth which extends throughout the book. In the rest of the book I could sort of forgive that (even if I didn't like it), but given it was the point of the section - I was irked. A good starting point for researching the mythological, but very much a starting point too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Siri Olsen

    Very much what it says on the cover: a compendium of everything spooky, mysterious, legendary and occult with chapters on mysterious people, mythological creatures, mythical places, legends of the skies, legends of the seas, strange artifacts and hidden treasures. The book is very complete and introduces the reader to a wonderful collection of the strange, mysterious, legendary and magical. However, the treatment of each subject ranges from very thorough to very short indeed, and the entries are Very much what it says on the cover: a compendium of everything spooky, mysterious, legendary and occult with chapters on mysterious people, mythological creatures, mythical places, legends of the skies, legends of the seas, strange artifacts and hidden treasures. The book is very complete and introduces the reader to a wonderful collection of the strange, mysterious, legendary and magical. However, the treatment of each subject ranges from very thorough to very short indeed, and the entries are ordered alphabetically within each chapter rather than, say, according to the culture or area from which they stem. This makes it very much a compendium, a book designed to give you a brief overview and a short introduction rather than a thorough walkthrough. But then again, it's very good at these brief introductions and then it's always possible to find additional material yourself if something should catch your attention. Recommended for everyone in love with the spooky, legendary and occult.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eleah

    I’m very disappointed. For a book that says it will be full of interesting facts instead it was a book full of the same thing over and over. I was sick of reading the same fact multiple times after a while. And the typos! Sooooooo many typos!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Farmer

    A collection of mythological creatures, mysteries and legends. As such its a fascinating encyclopedia type book, however it loses a star as for some reason in later chapters a lot of info is repeated almost word for word but under different headings - bit odd.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    This bestiary has been invaluable to me during my current project. The cover is gorgeous, the layout is appealing, and the illustrations are lovely.

  15. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    2 1/2 stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Haynes

    An entertaining compendium that's great to dip in and out of. An entertaining compendium that's great to dip in and out of.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    What a disappointing repetitive book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ewrim Bilgen

    amazing short stories with high qualified cover and design

  19. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    I won't give it five stars simply because I didn't read every single page - this was a 'dip in and out' kind of book. I love the design of the cover and illustrations;the appearance of an obscure Victorian hardback worked really well with the creepy subject matter. Information was easy to find and understand whilst also sprinkled with a tad of humour here and there. I'm not a massive non-fiction or encyclopedia fan, but I really enjoyed flicking through this, it covered the subject of myth and l I won't give it five stars simply because I didn't read every single page - this was a 'dip in and out' kind of book. I love the design of the cover and illustrations;the appearance of an obscure Victorian hardback worked really well with the creepy subject matter. Information was easy to find and understand whilst also sprinkled with a tad of humour here and there. I'm not a massive non-fiction or encyclopedia fan, but I really enjoyed flicking through this, it covered the subject of myth and legend very entertainingly and thoroughly.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really like the way the book is divided up into sections to grab your interest. From monsters and legends to manuscripts and weird books to strange people and bizarre occurrences. It makes it easy to just flick to a page that catches your eye and you can end up getting lost in the chapters that follow. It gives brief examples of the kind of things that people thought and believed in the not so distant past. It's a fun book you can easily dip in and out of and there'll always be something new an I really like the way the book is divided up into sections to grab your interest. From monsters and legends to manuscripts and weird books to strange people and bizarre occurrences. It makes it easy to just flick to a page that catches your eye and you can end up getting lost in the chapters that follow. It gives brief examples of the kind of things that people thought and believed in the not so distant past. It's a fun book you can easily dip in and out of and there'll always be something new and interesting to read up on.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Meh. This book is set up as a sort of encyclopedia covering a variety of supernatural oddities which I assume interested the author. And some entries are interesting, but Breverton has the habit of quoting from several medieval sources, all of which seem to repeat each other. So it comes across as repetitive, even within the rather brief framework of the entries. I wish I hadn't paid cash money for this. Not enough meat to justify the price. Meh. This book is set up as a sort of encyclopedia covering a variety of supernatural oddities which I assume interested the author. And some entries are interesting, but Breverton has the habit of quoting from several medieval sources, all of which seem to repeat each other. So it comes across as repetitive, even within the rather brief framework of the entries. I wish I hadn't paid cash money for this. Not enough meat to justify the price.

  22. 5 out of 5

    K

    There's no other book like this! And if you happen to find one sort of like it, trust me. This one is better. The master index of all things mystical, mythical, creepily religious, and blood sucking. One of my all time favorite books! There's no other book like this! And if you happen to find one sort of like it, trust me. This one is better. The master index of all things mystical, mythical, creepily religious, and blood sucking. One of my all time favorite books!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chiara

    I loved this book! so full of weird creatures and random facts, you sure don't wanna miss it. I loved this book! so full of weird creatures and random facts, you sure don't wanna miss it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hurricane_ReD

    Exciting and original!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheena MacNeil

    A very intersting read! I found that it fit so well into the feel of Oct.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Fairly good... Annoyingly vague in some places, but aside from that...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Excellent. Comprehensive with beautiful (and occasionally creepy) illustrations. Highly recommended!

  28. 4 out of 5

    S. Simge

    Simply fascinating...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Found this while sight seeing in San Diego. The cover alone screams buy me but the book itself makes it worth it

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    A book you can dip in and out of whenever it takes your fancy...

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