The Creatures Of Midnight: Mythical Beings from Philippine Folklore: Volume 4

Maximo D. Ramos

Book cover

I put down Ramos’ longer book “Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology” without finishing it, so I didn’t write any review of it. This book is a much shorter treatment of the same material. Like CPLM, Ramos frustratingly groups Filipino legendary monsters into a set of pre-existing European-derived categories (elves, dwarves, witches, etc.), resulting in forced stuff like “aswang (ghoul aspect)” and “aswang (vampire aspect)” rather than just acknowledging that the mythology of such a crossroads culture as the Philippines might not fit neatly into categories.

The book is presented in a “bestiary” style that makes it easier to read. However, if you’re interested in something like this, I would much more highly recommend the modern “Alejandro Pardo” books by Budjette Tan et al. Those books present the creatures with engaging scraps of narrative, where here, we get loose listings of characteristics. The book seems oddly targeted at kids, while dealing with some pretty gruesome stuff (although I guess Grimm’s fairytales are the same). Plus, the monsters in each section often end up feeling kind of same-y, because there are often separate entries for several creatures that are really just “variations on the same theme” from different regions.

Also, the art is fairly amateur-ish looking, and most of the humans depicted look really European. The Alejandro Pardo books have much cooler (and scarier!) art.

My Goodreads rating: 2 stars