Jogging werewolves, church service transformation among hard-to-believe tales in ‘Monsters Among Us'

If ever there were a book perfectly suited to the current world of alternative facts, fake news and separating what is true from what is false, it is Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms and Odd Phenomena by Linda S. Godfrey, published by Tarcher Perigee in 2016.

Whatever it is not, Monsters Among Us is nothing if not entertaining. No matter what you believe - and I am not predisposed to accept that there are monster among us, except for the ones who are us - this is a difficult book to put down because you never know what kind of outlandish claim will be found on the next page. 

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Clocking in at just under 350 pages, Godfrey’s book is divided into 26 chapters, most of which contain at least on account of an encounter with either a bigfoot/sasquatch - which may or may not have glowing eyes and/or the ability to materialize and dematerialize at will - or some sort of dogman, similar in appearance to the Egyptian god Anubis, with the latter seeming to enjoy hanging out in people’s bedrooms and watching them sleep, or maybe just peering in the window.

The author is clear that readers are free to disagree with her assessments, pointing out herself that she is “a researcher, investigator, and writer, but I don’t have a degree in science.” Even if she didn’t say so herself, this could probably be gleaned from the fact that she notes that numerous episodes of the fictional TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” feature “giant hellmouths deep beneath the local high school that’s crammed chockablock with demons plotting to spill upward and wreak havoc on humanity.” Godfrey doesn’t claim that this is evidence for the actual existence of hellmouths, but some might say that relying on fictional reference points at all is walking on pretty thin ice, scientifically speaking. 

In the case of a werewolf-type figure spotted running through Los Angeles’s MacArthur Park, which features a small manmade lake, Godfrey speculates that the creature could have emerged from an underground tunnel network, at least in theory. “I would imagine that a city park with tourist attractions such as a special pool for its resident pet seal would require massive subterranean areas for maintenance, and it seems logical that these would connect with other parts of the L.A. underground for easy access by workers and vendors.” Unfortunately, despite characterizing herself as an investigator, there isn’t any evidence that Godfrey went about investigating this claim to see if it might be true.

Of all the incredible claims in Monsters Among Us, undoubtedly the hardest to believe is an account of a woman in a Baptist church in an unnamed town somewhere in the American Midwest transforming into a wolf-like creature – or possibly a demon – in front of more than 200 people during a morning service in 1992. “It seemed like that Sunday was a weird Sunday,” one of the eyewitnesses, identified only as Sara, told the author in a textbook example of understatement. Unfortunately, despite that church’s practice of videotaping services, the recording of that particularly noteworthy service has been lost and the eyewitnesses said that other members who were there that day, perhaps mistaking their chapel for Las Vegas, told them they didn’t wish to talk about it because “what happens in the church stays in the church.”

It’s hard to go more than 10 pages in Monster Among Us without coming across something that either makes you scratch your head or suspend your disbelief, but for entertainment value along, it’s certainly worth the few hours it takes to read as you keep turning pages in anticipation of what might happen next.

Monsters Among Us is available at the Thompson Public Library.

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