The Nightmare Compendium
She thumbs from one page to the next. A solid half of the creatures
aren’t in her edition because they only exist in other parts of the world. Since the spirit that sleeps by Hemlock Falls is so young, it hasn’t had time to evolve its own unique nightmares yet.
Mom always used to say it was like a Lego starter kit. When a new spirit is born, it comes with a standard set of monsters—vampira, hellions, harpies, melusine, and so on—but over the centuries, it starts to create its own. As its mind expands with age, its dreams in turn grow more vast.
One thing that our Twitter Sooz Your Own Adventure of The Luminaries did not have—but which features heavily in the book version—is the Nightmare Compendium.
This enormous tome contains all the nightmares that Winnie and the Luminary hunters might possibly encounter in the forest each night. And not just the nightmares of Winnie's American forest, but also nightmares from the 13 other forests around the world.
Book Winnie is a scientist at heart (she should have been born a Monday!), and so she has the entire Compendium memorized. And all that knowledge is right there whenever she needs it -- which is oftenon her deadly hunter trials.
Though there are more nightmares featured in the book (and even MORE in book 2!), I thought it would be fun to share some of the definitions that scroll through Winnie's brain throughout the book...
Known for weeping and wailing, they lure prey to them via a natural human instinct toward sympathy. From afar, they appear as gnarled, elderly women, but closer examination will reveal their differences: vertical pupils, greenish skin, and claws with needle-like points.
Their tears produce a poison that burns to the touch. If collected from a banshee corpse, it can be used to induce temporary comas and even a mimicry of death, slowing the recipient’s heartbeat to near stillness.
Note: Never run from a banshee.
Though seemingly small, no wider than a cobra, the basilisk can in fact stretch up to forty feet long.
Fine, hair-like tendrils alert it to nearby movement of prey, and the head can move with uncanny speed once prey is detected.
Basilisks possess hollow fangs that inject venom much like natural snakes. Their venom kills within seconds, disabling a victim’s nerves in what is believed to be a painless, sudden death.
The crown-shaped stripes across its brow are poisonous to the touch, as are its fangs and its breath, if inhaled.
The greatest danger, however, are its eyes. To make eye contact with a basilisk is to have your own eyes turn to stone. Though animals can survive the encounter (but are permanently blinded), the basilisk usually strikes before they can evade.
Also called the praying mantis of the forest, these tall creatures move on stilt-like feet that rest atop the soil, leaving no tracks. They move in hordes, but when tracking prey, they do not move at all.
Vampira hordes are never to be faced alone. Their hordes can range anywhere from ten members to over a hundred, and they move with sophisticated coordination and speed, following the lead of a bellwether. To eliminate to the bellwether is to temporarily slow the horde. However, to startle a vampira is to startle the entire horde.
Vampira have what appear to be mandibles, but are in fact side-hinging jaws and fangs. They typically consume the top halves of bodies, where the most nutrients concentrate. Though there are rumors that they will keep feet, simply because they do not have them, there is no scientific evidence to back this claim.
Additional tips: always aim for their knees. A well-placed blade can destabilize them, preventing pursuit.
Note: Though not their typical method of hunting, there are records of vampira climbing trees in pursuit of prey.
Human by day and monster by night, these rare day-walkers blend in easily and are unrecognizable from other humans in their daytime form. The most common animal form is werewolf, but there are records of were-lions from the Kenyan spirit and were-leopards from the Pakistani spirit.
They can rip apart a body (nightmare, human, or animal) when the full frenzy of their nightmare mutation takes hold, but such frenzies occur rarely. Typically, they kill only to feed or defend.
While they do hunt other nightmares, they prefer to hunt humans.
There is no cure for the nightmare mutation, and to be bitten by a were-creature is to become infected by the mutation. Incubation time varies by victim species, age, size, and type of were-creature. Some records exist of humans able to resist the mutation, though these are rare and unstudied.
Were-creatures, when in their animal form, are almost unkillable. However, like the non legends, they are hurt by silver—and, in some rare cases, by gold.
GHOST-DEER, GHOST-SQUIRREL, GHOST-RACCOON, ETC.:
These ghostly apparitions pose no threat to humans, and will typically flee when hunters or nightmares appear. Though they leave tracks, no known hunter has managed to capture a ghost creature. Weapons do not pierce them.
Much dispute remains around their origins: are they creations of the dreaming spirit? Or are they phantoms left over from the creatures that inhabited the wood prior to the spirit’s arrival? In the forests surrounding the Earth’s oldest spirits, there are apparitions of primitive creatures long since lost to time.
Now I just wish I was a decent enough artist to do hommage to these amazing creatures! I can't wait for book 2 to see more.