Jonathan Downes is the director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and he is undeniably one of the best known cryptozoologists in the English-speaking world. Jon has dedicated his life to searching the world for mystery animals and trying to make sense of the mysteries of Mother Nature. These preoccupations started over half a century ago, in a place which – for all intents and purposes – no longer exists and which contemporary readers may struggle to comprehend.
Between 1961 and 1971 the Downes family lived in Hong Kong, which is where, surrounded by exotic animals and oriental folklore, he first fell in love with the natural world and the mysteries therein.
This is not only the story of his early life, but also the story of one of the last generations of children brought up in the aegis of the British Empire, when it was still a global entity upon which the sun had not set. The author takes an unprejudiced look at the last decades of British rule in the Orient, through the eyes of the child of a senior member of HM Overseas Civil Service.
This book has taken a lifetime to write and it examines his Colonial world at face value, neither exaggerating or shying away from the truth. It is a book about love, hate, mental illness, prejudice, duty and compassion. As such it can be frightening, touching and confusing. It will make you angry, happy and sad, but above all it is about a whole pantheon of wonderful animals. Six decades later the author has not lost his childlike wonder at these creatures and at the magnificence of the world around him.