Medieval Monsters and Other Creatures by Timothy Ide

Reviewed by Rod McLary

When I was a child – quite a number of years ago now – one of my favourite books was Grimm’s Fairy Tales written by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1812.  When first published, the book’s title was Children’s and Household Tales; and there was much criticism as the tales were not considered to be at all suitable for children.  In spite of that – or perhaps because of it – I read all the tales with a heady combination of excitement and fright.

I think children – when safely at home with loving adults around them – enjoy that frisson of fright that some books may give them.  This first book by Adelaide illustrator Timothy Ide is one such book.

Medieval Monsters and Other Creatures written and illustrated by Timothy Ide explores the world of monsters – perhaps creating in its readers the same excitement I experienced all those years ago.

The book takes its readers on a journey through the Middle Ages to find all those monsters and creatures which may or may not still be with us.  The author warns the readers that many of these creatures have lingered on into the modern age.  He tells us to Be on your guard!

The monsters are listed alphabetically from Afanc to Ziphius with expressive illustrations showing us what these monsters looked like.  In between these two are many more: some known and some unknown.  For example, ‘Troll’ is included and the author tells us that ‘today, troll-like humans lurk on the internet, often under false identities, where they make nasty comments … and hide behind their anonymity’.  Exactly!  Other monsters are more likeable – for example the Unicorn which is described as a ‘fabulous creature, resembling a graceful white horse’; or ‘Huldra Folk’ who lived [and perhaps still live] in Scandinavia and are ‘generally kind and generous’.

But many are not likeable and some are downright dangerous like the Griffin who attacks and eats horses, or the Ghoul who digs up bodies and eats them, or even worse, the Bicorne who ate unhappy husbands and whose mate the Chichevache ate unhappy wives.  Unhappy husbands and wives beware.  It is not too late to put your houses in order!

This is a very entertaining book and the text and illustrations complement each other beautifully.  While it is said to be a ‘picture book for all ages’, it is perhaps not suitable for younger children with active imaginations who may too quickly imagine a Blemmyae under the bed.  But all those who enjoy a frisson of fright – adults and children both – will read this book with delight for its stories about the monsters and the illustrations which show what they may look like.

The author concludes the book with these reassuring words: Hopefully, travellers who have read this book will have all they need to reach their destination unharmed.

Medieval Monsters and Other Creatures


by Timothy Ide

MidnightSun Publishing

ISBN 978 192285 817 7

$34.99; 72pp

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