Myths, Monsters, Mystery
Myths & Monsters Vol I
Myths & Monsters Field Guide
About the Authors
Reviews & Articles
Games & Activities
More Myth Mayhem
Myths & Monsters of Reston, Virginia:
The Phenomenal and Frightening Findings of Dr. Padraigin W. Thalmeus, PDS.
by Eric MacDicken & Kristina S. Alcorn
Reviews & Articles
"Myths & Monsters will take you on a fun-filled romp through adventure and fantasy, inspired by the natural places that weave through our community. Ripe for exploration and best enjoyed with a sense of wonder, MacDicken and Alcorn encourage new generations to get outside, search for critters, peek into hiding places, and let their imaginations soar. Those of us who grew up in Reston will love the humor contained in this wild tale, plus the challenge of dissecting fact and fiction."
Walker Nature Center Manager
Restonian since 1968
"Recently I chatted over Lake Anne Brew House brews with Eric MacDicken and Kristina Alcorn about their hilarious new book, Myths & Monsters of Reston, Virginia. These two kept me laughing so hard that I didn't notice two hours going by. As I reluctantly packed up at the end of a fun evening, I realized that I still had no idea which parts of their book were real and which weren't. They grinned mischievously and told me that was exactly how they wanted it.
Myths and Monsters is told through a series of journal entries written by an ill-fated explorer during his 1819 voyage through what is now Reston. According to the book, it was a land inhabited by trolls, banshees, and other unsavory characters. I particularly loved the (mostly) nudist colony. And you'll be pleased to know that yes, the Bunny Man makes an appearance."
Read the full Modern Reston article
By Charlotte Geary
"Bob Simon (Reston's founder) would have clapped with delight at the imagination and creativity that Myths & Monsters of Reston delivers. He would have applauded the authors' goal to encourage families to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of Reston. It was one of the seven, original goals of his master plan: 'Beauty is a necessity of the good life.'"
Read the full Viva Reston Lifestyle magazine article
By Peter McCandless
Viva Reston Lifestyle magazine
"Have you gotten your copy of the book 'Myths & Monsters' yet?! It has lots of stories about Reston legends. Fact or Fiction -- you be the judge! Written by local Restonians, Eric MacDicken and Kristina Alcorn. I purchased my copy at Reston Museum. It's a fun read for all ages."
Whimsy at its best!
"Eric and Kristina have given the new town of Reston what it didn't have and needed, a prehistoric to futuristic history and mythology. Bob Simon would have loved it. It is whimsy at its best, erudite and sophisticated."
"I applaud the writing, wit, and imagination of MacDicken and Alcorn. Add to that the wonderful illustration, and you'll find that the book is a joy for a wide audience children and adults alike. It is written in the vein of Washington Irving, Maurice Sendak, and JK Rowling capturing the joy of imagination and the spirit of high adventure."
Read the complete review here or at Amazon Reviews
"They ought to change the Virginia promo from 'Virginia is for Lovers' to 'Virginia is for Monsters.' Or have a melding of the two, because you will love the monsters of Reston. Speaking of melding, the captivating style of this book is a fuel-efficient hybrid of Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, Edward Lear and Lemony Snicket, sprinkled with the comedy of Mel Brooks. Yes, you will have some monster laughs along with the low idle chuckles. Wonderful illustrations from a master draftsman, charming text from a writer of wit and wisdom. This is a book you and the kids will want to read over and over again. Just a treasure."
"Reston, Virginia just got a whole lot more fabulous. The book is beautifully written and illustrated -- the authors have talent and wit, and use both to great effect. My family and I are eagerly awaiting the next installment -- what will they find next? An excellent gift, or just a fun and unexpected work of art to keep prominently displayed. Friends often pick it up in our living room and end up taking it home for a few days because they can't stop laughing and admiring. My nine-year-old is insisting we visit Reston this year."
Portsmouth, NH reviewer
"You don't have to live in Reston or Northern Virginia to appreciate this hilariously funny and cleverly illustrated book. The writing and pictures will make you laugh -- and perhaps inspire you to investigate the myths and legends about your own hometown or neighborhood."
"My daughters, 7 and 5, loved the stories and illustrations. The scare factor was balanced with silliness, so even though these monsters are real ;), they did not cause any shivers or sleepless nights. As a parent, I enjoyed following along in the journal as the adventure turned from one myth and monster to another. The layers of creativity are amazing and add depth to this book that appeals to kids, but transcends the 'children's monster story' genre. Great for Halloween or anytime of year when you want to be inspired to explore your own imagination and nature, too!"
"I discovered this book on Facebook and it was a great and fun read. The writing is entertaining and fun. The illustrations are very good with a very unique look. And the beasts and monsters are awesome to read about. I've never been to Reston, but I definitely want to meet the 'Virginia Swamp Man' for a whiskey -- 'the snootiest inebriant in the colonies'. Good stuff highly recommend."
"This is a wonderful book, filled with engaging, fun stories and incredibly thoughtful, artistic drawings. The book immediately begins raising questions in the mind of the reader: Did this really happen? Are the characters real? Did anybody actually see this? Of course, we know that Dr. Padraigin W. Thalmeus and his 'discoveries' are all fiction...right? Or are they? One thing for sure, they are great stories for fun discussions with kids and adults alike. And though the book focuses on the truly real town of Reston, VA, the stories are fun for anyone, anywhere to engage in."
"Loved this book. It's a different path into the world around us and exploring that world. It weaves elements of history and myth (magic?) with the world we live in now. And, great illustrations!"
"What a great book full of fun, imaginative story telling and wonderfully vibrant illustrations! My kids are 8 and 12 and we all loved reading about 'Myths and Monsters' in our hometown. But you don't have to live in Reston, VA to love this book. If you or your kids are fans of Harry Potter, (esp. Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them) and/or you want to read something unique and different with your family, then this book is for you!"
"I grew up in the Midwest where the suburbs tend to be devoid of character and history, but clearly that's not the case in the East, or at least in Reston, as this charming book shows. It's a collection of stories and journal entries by a mythical 19th century doctor/explorer about the fantastical creatures that roam Reston's lakes and woods. The illustrations are delightful (I had a soft spot for the Bollin Banshee in particular), and the authors' imagination and their love for their community shines through. The activity page at the end lists ways for readers, young or old, to explore nature and their communities and to people them with their own monsters and myths, which is a nice addition. Overall, it's a witty, quirky look at a particular community and its landmarks and landscapes and stories -- and also a general reminder of what it's like to see the world with a child's imagination, when supernatural possibilities seem to infuse the world around, and everything is more magical and scary."
Brilliant, Witty; Engaging; Superb; Enticing
"I couldn't stop smiling and often laughing through the whole book. Brilliant concept; wittily and engagingly presented; superbly written; enticingly illustrated."
"A very clever and entertaining book about the monsters of Reston--though I'm not a Reston resident (or a VA resident, for that matter), I bought this for my young nephews (who are adventurers) on the suggestion of a friend. They loved the stories, and especially the wonderful illustrations and completed parts of the 'activity page' where they live in New York. I particularly appreciated the Virginia Swamp Man (as a bourbon drinker...) but found the whole book fun and entertaining. Highly recommend."
New York, NY
At long last!
"I love mysterious books. And I loved all the little ghosts and goblins that Reston had when I lived there. It's about time somebody wrote something about it!"
"This book will take children, students and adults on an imaginative journey of folklore of the planned city of Reston, Virginia. The folklore consists of 13 accounts of encounters with strange creatures in Reston (e.g., the Cicada Lady and Zombie Cows) and associated myths. In addition to learning about these creatures and myths, the reader is taken on a journey through the many different parts of Reston. One cannot overemphasize the superb quality of the illustrations for the stories; they catch the spirit of each character and stimulate the inner child in all of us to imagine, play and wonder. To aid parents and teachers, an 'Activity Page' is provided make full use of these stories and create new ones. As a long-time resident of Reston, this book captures the imaginative adventure and spirit of living in Reston."
Vernon L Wingert
"Very enjoyable book with an intriguing story and fanciful art ... Plus it made me laugh!"
"Who knew there were so many monsters in Reston?! Fun and clever book. Lots of giggles to be had. A must have for any Northern Virginia resident."
"Having lived in Reston for a couple years during high school, and knowing the wife of one of the authors (Caroline Schor-MacDicken, who also did the photography for this book), I was compelled to add this to my five year-old son Jack's collection. He's at an age where he has many questions about the nature of other-worldly things, about whether those things are 'real', and the like. This book has the perfect mix of good-natured 'spooky stuff' (Jack's words) combined with some fairly impressive tongue-in-cheek humor. Along the way, the book paints a fun and entertaining portrait of that beloved planned community, replete with some references to the local lore and their origins. Highly recommended for little adventurers and their parents, and it helps if you can read in a... conspiratorial tone!"
"Tremendous fun for the whole family, with creative illustrations. Highly recommend!"
"A must for any Reston resident. A witty and entertaining look and what has been and what might be lurking in and around the town's treasured wood and lakes. Hike at your own peril - you have been warned."
"Wow! This book blew me away from the first page. The artwork is simply fun fantasy, but in a way that I think most people haven't really seen before. The writing is also very clever and entertaining, while also being educational. I'd say it's a perfect book for readers of any age, especially those with an interest in cryptids and the like. It's really a good deal for the asking price, as well. There's not much else I have to say, other than it's excellent and I'm a fan. Can't wait until the sequel comes out!"
"After spending some years of my childhood in the Reston area, I couldn't wait to pick up this book. I honestly couldn't be more pleased with my purchase. Eric's creations (both intellectual and illustrative) gave me a laugh and many nostalgic memories of my childhood playing outside. If you're from, or have family/friends in the northern VA area, definitely pick this up. You'll love it."
"The discoveries and adventures of Dr. Padraigin W. Thalmeus are brilliantly imagined, beautifully illustrated and masterfully told. They're also hilarious. You will enjoy every step of this journey, from the Research Team's Forward to their carefully documented Appendixes. And you will linger on pages to appreciate all of the details before you inevitably retrace your steps and go back for more. In Myths and Monsters of Reston, Virginia, Eric MacDicken and Kristina S. Alcorn have created a whole world on these pages."
So much fun!!
"This book is a mythopoeic marvel of teratological sleuthdom and invention. From naked Quakers to Tree Hole Trolls, lake monsters and zombie cows, MacDicken and Alcorn give us a wildly imaginative, intensely curious behind-the-curtain look, not only into a fanciful false history of Reston's mythological and monstrous creatures, but also into a collection of myths and monsters that should be, and, in any reasonable world, would be real! This delightful little guidebook celebrates the imagination's ability to populate the world with creatures that are not but that might be. And it invites us all to play, to seek out and invent the myths and monsters that give meaning to our lives and to the places where we live them."
See The Dark Side of A Nice Place To Live
"I grew up in 'it ain't dead it's just' Reston - "A Nice Place to Live" (and where it's against neighborhood codes to die) - and this book does a brilliant job at recognizing the latent horror and mystery that lie under the cul-de-sacs and in the scrub oaks and puckerbrush behind the tot lots. The illustrations, copy and layout make for a lighthearted, enchanting and nostalgic read - even if you only have a passing aquaintance with Reston (and even for its "natives" it felt less like a hometown and more like a Facebook friend). Eric did a tremendous job capturing the spooky, strangely surreal, quintessentially 80's now strangely sweet dystopian suburban syndrome of Reston. Casting it in 1800's Victorian horror tones, he shows us what was always there, if we only had eyes to see it."
Content, images, and illustrations © Eric MacDicken.
Photographs used with permission © Caroline Schor-MacDicken.