I was looking for a book to use as an introduction to the World Mythology. A book loaded with summaries of myths, and brief descriptions of gods, creatures and places. A book that is easy to read, that somehow organizes the information in a way that I could easily browse. This book is all that and a little bit more.
I used this book as a trampoline to the actual myths. It gave me a concise summary of the myths, which I used to decide whether I wanted to explore them in another source like in Great Myths of the World or Parallel Myths. It exposed me to some myths I wanted to study: Nordic, Celtic, Babylon, Japanese, ... With this book, I learned a bit about creatures such as Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, and yes, The Chupacabra. It even had a section about comparative mythology in pop culture where Star Wars and The Matrix had a cameo.
I had bought other Complete Idiot's books as an introduction to a theme. As an introduction to World Mythology, this book deserves 5 stars. Not every book in the Complete Idiot's Series is a gem, but this one certainly is for me.
Brown and Lansing have attempted the impossible, and almost managed it. Their work is concise, interesting, and always leads the curious reader to further inquiries should he wish to do so. While not comprehensive, it is an excellent foundational text for anyone beginning a study into mythology.
This book may be a good basic introduction to the subject but I disliked the way it was presented. Everything here is presented by topic: heroic men, warrior women, etc.... I would have gotten more out of it, I think, if it had been done by area so I could get more context out of each myth. But maybe you just use it as a start and then seek out a more in depth book when you find something that you are interested in and want to learn more about.