This is another of TSR’s “different” books. It measures 6 7/16” x 10”, and its 2 color cover has silver text. The text is organized into different fonts and gray boxes to denote the author. It is intended to be part of Van Richten’s research, heavily annotated by some relatives, with gray boxes of game data ranging from lines to pages in size. Although this may sound interesting or even innovative, it becomes annoying. Van Richten’s “writing” is fairly interesting and even captivating at times, as a narrative and background data. The added notes are inserted at appropriate places to explain campaign world truths about what was just described. The game data becomes a distraction, breaking up the other text and causing a loss of cohesiveness to any story lines therein. Further, it makes the data difficult to reference, since it is scattered among pages of in character text.
The subject fiends of this tome are; demons, gypsies, witches and hags. The demon section details demonic powers and motivations and provides a good outline for demonic possessions of NPCs/PCs. The gypsies, called Vistani, are given a lot of power for nomadic thieves. Witches are given a fair treatment, good and bad. I actually enjoyed the hags’ section, included with the witch’s text, the most. Van Richten’s research provides 2 different origins for them, a race akin ogres, the progeny of a woman scorned by her husband and sons. They are given motivation and color beyond other sources I have read to date.
All in all, I can’t imagine paying the cover price for what amounts to an average fantasy novel, broken up with a somewhat useful gaming resource. Hard cover novels are cheaper, and there are better gaming sources on all the subjects, save hags but that alone is in no way worth the price. This is only for the die-hard and/or collector.