Chupacabras and Other Mysteries by Scott Corrales was an excellent read. As the title suggests, this book focuses on the chupacabras, and its infamous exploits around Central America.
The most outstanding feature of this book is, undoubtedly, the source of the information. The events detailed here occurred primarily in the South and Central Americas, in what are predominantly Spanish speaking countries. We English speaking earthlings from the north face two levels of difficulty in obtaining these extraordinary reports: The first, and most obvious, is that the accounts are natively documented in Spanish. Furthermore, there is a general lack of interest demonstrated by the northern media in publishing such events occurring in other parts of the globe. To put it another way, the stories here are rather unlikely to reach the English speaking nations of the world, and even if they did, you would need to speak Spanish to read them! Well, thanks to Scott Corrales, these barriers have been lifted. His work concentrates on translating and interpreting this valuable information into easily readable English. These are not your old rehashed tales from the States; these are fresh accounts which should grab the interest of any paranormal researcher. Furthermore, the text does not feel like a rough translation; it holds its own on a technical level and appears to be well edited.
The depth of information in the book certainly adds to its value. It includes data from a variety of sources: indirect reports from researchers, first hand interview quotation, and direct entries from local news publications. At over 200 pages, this is not a cursory treatment of the chupacabras. The book really leaves you with a feel for the phenomena, and cements a lot of the bizarre details that are only often touched upon in more terse texts. Thankfully, the author tries to cover all the bases, and presents plenty of varying theories about the phenomenon at hand. Rather than telling you what to think, Corrales just presents as wide a body of information as he can, and lets you do the critical thinking. The inclusion of a few photos are a nice touch, although I wish they had a couple more pictures of the actual victims of the chupacabras (morbid as that may be, as evidence it’s invaluable).
A final point worthy of merit is that Mr. Corrales is not your run of the mill armchair investigator. He has worked on location as both an investigator and an interviewer. Although the majority of the book’s text is the result of the direct research of others, it speaks to the character and qualification of the author that he has dedicated his time and talents to researching the field of which he’s now writing.
As good as the book is, it also had a few shortcomings, none of which were major, but which I felt worth noting here. First of all, the wealth of information mentioned above gets dry in a few places. One chapter focuses exclusively on chronological snippets from a news publication that documented the day-by-day exploits of the chupacabras, usually telling little more for a given day than the victim and what animals were attacked. Although it has the positive effect of giving the reader an unprecedented view of the breadth of the phenomenon, it gets pretty redundant after the first couple pages.
Furthermore, the book does not flow very well between chapters, and it is hard to discern order from the arrangement of the information. Each chapter, as a self contained entity, is valuable and usually moves smoothly, but I often found myself wondering how I got from one chapter to the next. A couple chapters focused on specific months of the year, but none of the other chapters are chronologically organized. One chapter is snippets from a news source, another is an interview with witnesses, and yet others span events over longer time periods or locations.
My final complaint is the “Other Mysteries” portion of the title. As it suggests, Corrales dedicates a couple of the final chapters to paranormal events other than the chupacabras itself. Again, the information in itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, as it too is from the hard to access southern nations, it is actually interesting and fresh material for the reader. My qualm is that it’s just plain out of place in a book that’s 85% dedicated to one beast. It has the feeling of being padding to the text, and personally I wish Corrales would have created a separate book for these stories, rather than tacking it on here and making it feel like an afterthought.
All in all, Chupacabras and Other Mysteries is a highly recommendable read. It brings previously inaccessible information to the English speaking public in a way that is comfortably readable. Any paranormal researcher is likely to get something new and interesting here. If you think you know the chupacabras from reading a page or two here or there, chances are you’ve got a lot to learn!