Author McIsaac relays stories from the Dene Nation about creatures they call spirits—and he calls pterodactyls—in an updated version of his debut nonfiction work.
“My understanding of spirits is not their understanding of spirits,” McIsaac writes, acknowledging cultural differences between him and native people, even as he takes the elders’ tales as proof the pterodactyl still exists. The so-called devil bird isn’t alone. McIsaac makes a case for the continued existence of several other prehistoric creatures, including the woolly mammoth, and he also argues the case for Sasquatch, dire wolves and dragons. McIsaac takes a lot on faith, and he asks the reader to do the same. While his theories start out clearly labeled as such, he quickly layers on more theories that only work if the reader accepts the first suppositions—and a number of thirdhand accounts—as fact. Suddenly, there are mammoths hiding in caves and pterodactyls that glow in the dark and generate smoke screens. McIsaac’s style comes across more as storytelling than scientific, especially when he assures the reader that “the odds of finding the Plesiosaur are far better than the odds of winning the lottery.” The final chapter diverges into a denunciation of North American society. McIsaac writes, “Woolly mammoths are a magnificent species and a part of our wildlife. The capitalists do not want us to be aware of them.” These tangents detract from the book’s original purpose and might leave skeptics wondering if his agenda involves more than stories about long-extinct wildlife.
McIsaac’s writing may appeal to the Sasquatch believers, but it leaves open-minded nonbelievers with precious few facts to hang their hats on.