December 1, 2011

Rabid Reads: 'The Lunenburg Werewolf' by Steve Vernon

The Lunenburg Werewolf
by Steve Vernon
148 pages
ISBN 9781551098579

I had no clue--none--that Nova Scotia had a werewolf legend. This is why I appreciate Steve Vernon's work: he has an innate ability to dig up these folkloric gems and relay them through written word as if his audience is sitting round a campfire.

This book isn't just about a werewolf, though a novel about a Maritime lycanthrope would have been welcome. It's a collection of over twenty legends and local myths that lay scatted across this humble province's rocky shores. This is actually old hat for Steve with other collections already under his belt including Haunted Harbours, Wicked Woods, Halifax Haunts, and Maritime Monsters.

The stories stretch from the northern inlets of Cape Breton to the southern shores of Yarmouth. And, as a Nova Scotian, it's always a treat to stumble across a tale that reference not only a place you know, but a place that's walking distance. The stories also demonstrate the vibrant imaginations and superstitions that provide the roots for these local legends. Every region has their fair share, especially in history-rich rural sections of the landscape.

Three of my favorites from this collection would have to be: "Murder Island Massacre," a story of thousands of skeletons beached on Murder Island, with connections to my own hometown and a beguiling woman who may have played a darker role in the fates of those who died; "The Quit Devil," a coal miner’s deal with the Devil and a legacy left to his son; and "The Capstick Bigfoot," about a fabled beast roaming the Cape Breton wilderness and doing good deeds.

The stories are brief and to the point, at times begging for a broader canvas on which to be painted, allowing readers to whisk through a couple tales at a time on coffee breaks, or wading through the entire book in a couple of evenings. Any Canadian should read at least one of Steve's collections, and as far as the rest of the world is concerned these stories are a fantastic inroad to the culture and kookiness--and sincerity--in my region of the world.

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