The idea of the book is to look at "real-life" monsters in the animal world and compare them to Dracula, zombies, and other supernatural creatures. Under the category of "the living dead" are included various bugs and parasites that take over their hosts and control their actions. Chapter 2 introduces creatures that feed on blood - lampreys, vampire bats, ticks, and more. For sea monsters we plunge deep into the ocean and meet poisonous and powerful undersea creatures, including a cone snail, giant squid, goblin shark, and more. For those who like to shudder at the thought of alien invaders, there's tapeworms, guinea worms, fungus, and other things we don't want to think about. The last chapter, "animal monster mash" has a wide range of creepy, gross, and unexpected animals from a porcupine with quills to cannibal crickets, a lizard that squirms out of its skin to escape predators to a caecilian mother that feeds its young with its own body.
Each chapter also includes a section on the mythical or popular culture monster - zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc. that inspired the research as well as profiling a "mad scientist" who researches some of the animals included. Back matter includes a glossary, index, further resources (I, personally, am not watching the videos) and credits.
The book is available in library and paperback bindings and is a slightly wider layout than some National Geographic titles - 10x9 inches. This gives plenty of space for lots of close-up, gory photographs! A great nonfiction pick for Halloween, grab this one off the shelf any time you have a kid proclaiming they like REALLY scary fare or that nothing grosses them out!
Verdict: Full of facts and photographs, this is a great addition to National Geographic's oevre and is sure to fly off your shelves (but hopefully not into your brain. Mwa ha ha ha).
ISBN: 9781426331497; Published August 2018 by National Geographic; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library