November 16, 2010

Rabid Reads: "Haunted Harbours" by Steve Vernon

Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from Old Nova Scotia
by Steve Vernon
Nimbus Publishing (2006)
120 pages
ISBN 1-55109-592-0
I reviewed Steve Vernon's Halifax Haunts back in January and figured it was about time I read a few more ghost stories based on the local folklore. Vernon calls himself the hardest working horror author in Nova Scotia, and given the diligence in his research to compile these ghost stories I am not about to argue.
Where Halifax Haunts centered on Nova Scotia's capital for folklore, Haunted Harbours takes a broader approach and collects stories from across the province. And it's quite remarkable how rich the province's history is when it comes to ghost stories and reported hauntings when not a single story depicted in Vernon's book is a repeat from Bill Jessome's 1999 offering, Maritime Mysteries.
Vernon's writing comes off as very conversational. It's less like reading a book than it feels like you're listening to him spin a yarn at a kitchen party or campfire. Some of the finer details are lost to time, so Vernon fills them out with his own unique flourish, which--let's be honest--is the mark of any self-respecting storyteller. It's not a book meant to serve as an index but as a compendium of indelibly Nova Scotian ghost stories.
If I'm to gripe about the book, I'll take issue with how scant it is at 120 pages. No sooner did I become engrossed by a particular story, when Vernon would end it and move on to the next one. Each story is quite brief, allowing a reader to read through a couple on their coffee break. If you wish for a deep immersion into any specific story, you'll be disappointed. But if you're curious about Nova Scotia's history and would like to be hit with a scattershot blast of it, then this is just the book for you.
For me a few of the legends that sparked my interest involved the expulsion of Acadian settlers, the foreboding black dogs of Celtic legend, and shipwreck tales from the southern coast. On a personal note, I only wished to see more tales from the southwest of the province where I call home. But heck, who's to say Steve Vernon isn't cooking up yet another book of Maritime ghost stories? I still have to get around to reading his collection of New Brunswick tales, Wicked Woods.



  1. I love these type of stories, but I would probably be much like you and wish they were longer. Still, what a cool idea for a book. I will have to check out it out. (Visting from Cym's).

  2. OHHHHHHHHHHHHH...sounds good.

    Visiting from Cym Lowell's Book Party, which I missed this week, but am checking out the posts today. :)

    Nice blog and review.