Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan is a cheeky historical trip through many of the familiar monsters that go bump in the night. This book may be a bit light for the full-time scientist or cryptozoologist, but for readers wanting to know more about the history of monsters, it is an amusing read.
Kaplan is a science writer who looks at monsters from aliens to zombies, with a lot of our familiar old monster friends included in the mix. Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite also shares insights into why we continue to scare the daylights out of ourselves, and why we do so in a most willing manner and explains some of the dark reasons behind the variety of creatures including Medusa, the golem, HAL 9000, and dragons.
Kaplan explains the introduction of super-sized lions and tigers and bears to humans finding fossilized bones and amalgamated creatures like the griffin from bones found in tar pits.
Kaplan stays on topic with a good scientific approach to dissecting the monsters and determining if they may have come from natural science or history, and he makes the science fun.
There is a light-hearted feel to learning about monsters through history and Kaplan has amusing tales, jokes and puns, but he makes the sometimes unwieldy topics of science and history entertaining.
Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite is a recommended read if you are looking for a delightfully engaging — if somewhat light — look at the origins and evolution of monsters and how their appeal remains fresh.