The Impossible Zoo by Leo Ruickbie #libraryloot

The Impossible Zoo by Leo Ruickbie

The Impossible Zoo by Leo Ruickbie Published by Little, Brown 2016

This is the first in a series of posts I’m calling #libraryloot and they are discoveries from the collection of the library where I work. They are returns gleaned from stints on the Circ desk, shelving finds, recommended reads from customers, or freshly unpacked new books (best job ever). Actually, working in a library really is like working in a candy shop!

A readable, fun, and informative visit to the best zoo on the planet!

Need to brush up on you dinner party banter? Why not impress with your knowledge of the Wolpertinger, the Cynocephalus or the Jörmungandr? Better still, throw in a few facts about Yahoos, Behemoths or Jenny Hanivers.

“Here are the things that made the woods wild and the night fearsome; the things that made cartographers of old write ‘Here be dragons’ on their maps. Here in this collection are the things that natural science has ruled out, yet still find their role in history and the social sciences. This is the Impossible Zoo.”

I think you’ll find this latest gem from Dr Leo Ruickbie truly wondrous. Populating its pages are exotic creatures, many of their names unpronounceable, many of their forms well, yes, absolutely impossible but that’s part of the fun. Here you will encounter the stuff of myth and legend, the magical, the mysterious, the ritual, and the absurd.


Wolpertinger By Rainer Zenz (Rainer Zenz) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m still working my way through the alphabet and seem to be drawn to the creatures of Germanic origin (probably because of my background and studies and interests). So far I’m besotted with the Wolpertinger, the Katzenknäuel, and the Tatzelwurm but honestly, it’s hard to choose from such a gorgeous array of terrible beasts.

Oh and I’m learning a lot — for instance, a Yahoo is an earlier word for the Australian Yowie and probably came from Swift’s fictional Yahoos in Gulliver’s Travels.

If there is any criticism from me it is only that I want to see pictures of all of the things!

I’ll be buying a copy  of this for my own writing library and hunting around for Dr Ruickbie’s other publications which include: Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician, Witchcraft out of the Shadows, A Brief Guide to the Supernatural, A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting.

If you love and perhaps believe in all things fantastical, bizarre and improbable including giant serpents, mermaids, unicorns, sea and dog monsters, then this is the book for you. And whether you’re a skimmer or a delver, I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

© Paula Grunseit 2017


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