MONSTERS of all shapes and sizes, real or imagined, literal or metaphorical and from all eras and cultures are put under the microscope in this all-embracing study.

And so snakes, insects and demons mix freely with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Khmer Rouge as our worst fears are brought into the open and examined.

Asma wants us to be able to cope with these better (after all, they are our own, he argues), but sometimes the monstrous is beyond understanding and deserves to be so labelled. Fear may be irrational, but in the right conditions it is highly entertaining, and in the “wrong” conditions, it can be a life-saver.