When I first learned of the publication last month of Medieval Monsters by Damien Kempf and Maria L. Gilbert (London: British Library, 2015), I knew it was a book I wanted to have in my collection. I was happy to find a copy during my recent holiday to Scotland.
Filled with stunning images from manuscripts housed at the British Library, this little book is sure to be a delight. This is a book that can be enjoyed by the expert in medieval legends and by one only vaguely familiar with them.
Kempf and Gilbert begin by briefly explaining what medieval men and women meant by monsters and what they believed about them. Following this explanation are a series of images of certain monsters, together with an explanation of what was thought of each particular kind of monster. The range of monsters discussed in the book is diverse, from the Panotii to Pygmies to Cynocephali to Sirens to unicorns and werewolves, to name just a few.
Curiously, though the book has an introduction of sorts, there is nothing resembling a conclusion at all; consequently, the book ends rather abruptly and unexectedly. Despite this drawback, the book is a must have for those interested in manuscripts, monsters, and/or months. The images alone are well worth the cost of the book.
Be sure to follow Damien Kempf on Twitter (@DamienKempf) for marvelous medieval images.