Review: Time-Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown

Today, I’d like to talk about one of my sources for research.  For my Von Herling anthology (as well as his original adventure), I read the original book of Dracula by Bram Stoker and watched vampire films to no end such as the various Dracula movies from 1931, 1979 and 1992.  Other horror comics like Hellboy were sources of inspiration.

While there’s nothing wrong with these, the genre of horror needs to be kept fresh so I decided to go do some research in books.  I did talk on my main blog about how handy libraries are for research.  One of the series I can recommend for anyone who writes horror (as well as fantasy, science fiction, paranormal or the supernatural) is the Mysteries of the Unknown book series from Time-Life Books.  

Mysteries of the Unknown was a series of hardcover books that was published from 1987 to 1991.  The books mainly dealt with topics of the unknown such as UFOs, ghosts, psychic powers, monsters, mythical creatures and other items.

Mysteries of the Unknown books

These are some of the books I own.  In my collection are five of the titles: Transformations, Phantom Encounters, the UFO Phenomenon, Mysterious Creatures and Mystic Places.

Each book talks about its chosen subject in depth.  Besides text, there’s plenty of illustrations, historical sources and photographs.  In the back of each volume is also a complete bibliography of the sources cited and suggestions for further research.

I’m making extensive use of the Transformations volume which talks extensively about vampires and werewolves.  This book discusses both subjects by delving into their historical origins, records and views of the creature from various cultures other than the Western world.

A total of 33 volumes were published; the series’ Wikipedia entry has a complete listing of the titles printed.  At the time of this writing, the Mysteries of the Unknown books are out of print.  However, this series was one of the biggest sellers for Time-Life so you should still be able to find copies in your local library.  Anyone wanting their own copies can probably find them in used bookstores and various online shops like Ebay and Amazon Marketplace.

The verdict? Get these books today.  This series is a must-have for anyone who writes about the supernatural or just likes such subjects!


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