Story prompt: lesser known monsters

1024 594 Writer and the Wolf Editorial

I read this picture book to my son recently and thought woah, I haven’t heard of half these creatures! An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings by Aidan Onn and Rob Hodgson is a gorgeous illustrated guide to 26 monsters from around the world and if, like me, you live in the west, you may not have come across some of these characters before. You’ll find the usual suspects like aliens, ghosts and vampires, but some may be new to you, like:

  • Eloko, dwarves living inside hollow trees who entrance passing hunters
  • Far Darrig, the Irish ‘red men’ who like practical jokes and tripping up travellers (I’m Irish, I should’ve known this one!)
  • Jinn, Arabian genie-like creatures made of fire who grant wishes in return for good deeds
  • Roc, a bird so strong it can carry an elephant in its claws
  • Xing Tian, a Chinese giant who lost its head in battle.

If you write middle grade or YA fantasy or horror, some of these mythical creatures might pop out at you as ideas for a novel, particularly if you’re fed up of the same old stories about vampires, werewolves and extra-terrestrials (although they’re all in the book too, of course!). Picture books like this can be great jumping off points for further research, and if this stunning artwork doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.


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Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.

All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes