Book Review: The Science of Monsters: The Truth about Zombies, Witches, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Legendary Creatures by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence

Cover of the book The Science of Monsters: The Truth about Zombies, Witches, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Legendary Creatures by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence
The Science of Monsters: The Truth about Zombies, Witches, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Legendary Creatures
by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence
Skyhorse, 2019

This review was first published by Booklist on September 1, 2019.

Hafdahl and Florence, cohosts of the popular podcast, Horror Rewind, explore some of the real-world, factual basis for 30 popular horror films from the early days of Hollywood to today. The authors don’t offer specific analyses of each film so much as use the movies as jumping off points to explore ideas that arise from them. In some cases, the ideas are directly related to a specific kind of movie: slashers based on the psychology of real-life serial killers, rare physical conditions that inspired movie monsters. In other chapters, the ideas are only tenuously connected; for example, the chapter on Alien discusses dark matter and neutrinos, which have nothing to do with the movie. But this is part of the book’s appeal. It’s fascinating how these films can inspire curiosity about a wide range of topics. The chapters are all brief, and none go into any depth, but brevity makes this a quick and fun read. If readers want to know more about the topics explored, there are good end notes to direct further research.

This title has been recommended for young adult readers:

YA/General Interest: Pop-culture hooks make for easy entry into scientific topics. —Julia Smith

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