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Book Review: Mystery Creatures of China by David C. Xu

The cover of David Xu's book, featuring a
four-winged bird, blue tiger, yeren, Huponiu,
& brown panda

Earlier this month, David C. Xu's book Mystery Creatures of China was released by Coachwhip Publications. The subtitle of Xu's book is The Complete Cryptozoological Guide. While some may be skeptical of this, since many other books out there claim to be the "complete guide" of this or that, here it should be taken seriously.

David's book is the first thorough examination of the many and varied cryptids of China written in English. Many of the cryptids he writes about have never been known to English-speaking cryptozoologists.

Instead of having chapters focusing on a certain creature or area, the book is split up into six sections, each focusing on a different type of mystery animals. The sections are split up into: (1. Aquatic Cryptids, (2. Humanoid Cryptids, (3. Carnivorous Cryptids, (4. Herbivorous Cryptids, (5. Reptilian Cryptids, and (6. Winged Cryptids.

The book starts off with a forward by cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker. He says that "If you're looking for a fascinating, entirely original cryptozoological book to read, then this is the book for you - it really is as simple as that." From there, we move on to the accounts of China's mystery creatures.
Karl Shuker

The first section of the book focuses fully on water monsters of China. Xu spends around 60 pages covering all sorts of aquatic cryptids. The Lake Tianchi monster, probably the most famous lake monster from China, gets a lot of attention. But other, lesser known cryptids like the Huponiu, Changtan Plunge Pool Monster, Lake Zhen Monster, giant salamanders, Lake Fuzian monsters, and many more are included as well. I was surprised at just how many of these creatures I had never heard of in any other cryptozoological work before.

Next, Xu takes a look at humanoid cryptids from throughout China. The most famous of these is the Yeren, commonly called the "Chinese Bigfoot." But, as the author shows, the Yeren is not the only supposed Bigfoot-like creature in China. Though many sounded like folkloric monsters, the amount of stories and legends on humanoid, hairy creatures in China will definitely interest those who look for Sasquatch, Yeti or Yowie.

Carnivorous cryptids are up next. Xu examines creatures such as blue, white, and black colored tigers, the Lutoulang, a horse-headed predator, the Guoshanhuang, a possible saber-toothed cat, Chinese lions,  the Zouyu, and the Bei, a strange, wolf-like animal, among many others.

Herbivorous cryptids follow, featuring a myriad of mystery creatures such as the Qilin, the "Chinese Unicorn," strange horse- and pig-like animals, the three-humped camel, and the Bianselu, a "color changing deer." Xu speculates that some of these creatures could be examples of surviving prehistoric animals, like Chalicotheres.

The fifth section takes a look at reptilian cryptids. Within are sightings of what some may describe as "living dinosaurs" and many accounts of Chinese dragons, some more recent than one would probably expect. The Xuanwu, a "turtle snake" some think could describe a plesiosaur, is mentioned as well, in addition to a few examples of unknown snakes.

The final section of the book is on flying cryptids. Xu examines reports of the Fenghuang, or Chinese phoenix, nine-headed and four-winged birds, the Haoguai, or "bird man" similar to the Mothman, surviving pterosaurs, and the giant "flying centipede."

Xu also includes three appendixes, which are maps of China showing the provinces and where lake monsters and humanoid cryptids have been reported.

Many have said that Mystery Creatures of China is already "the best cryptozoology book of 2018," and it might very well be. David Xu's book is one of the most interesting I have read in a long time and is probably better than all the new crypto books I read last year. Even veteran cryptozoologists will find creatures they have never heard of in this book, and that is one of the reasons it is so important.

One thing I did find is that a lot of the creatures in the book seem to be more folkloric than real and that Xu often suggested surviving prehistoric animals as possible identities, even if fossils of said animal had never been found in Chia. However, this does not mean it is no interesting and a good addition to the cryptozoological literature.

Mystery Creatures of China deserves a spot on the shelves of anyone interested in cryptozoology!

Get the book here.

The author received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review.
This, however, did not influence this review in any way. The thoughts and opinions
expressed are my own.


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