In The Lunenburg Werewolf and Other Stories of the Supernatural, Steve Vernon puts those tales on paper. In the title story, jealousy turns a man into a wolf. A werewolf isn't the only monster present in Nova Scotia. There is a Bigfoot (The Capstick Bigfoot) and a Bochdan (Beast of the Black Ground). A variety of people are terrorized by ghosts, and conversely comforted by them. There are selkies, witches, and phantom ships around every corner. And, of course, buried pirate treasure.
Vernon starts each tale with an explanation of its origin, often there's more than one, before telling the story. He does so with style. These aren't stories written like they've been told by so-and-so's cousin. He gives each story a cast of characters with distinct personalities. Some of these are earnestly told stories with a tinge of heartbreak. Some are laugh out loud funny. And the last (Liam and the Lutin) is quite tongue in cheek. He sticks closest to "reality" in the stories that have been documented, like The Ghosts of Oak Island or The Haunting of Esther Cox. But I really enjoyed the stories where he let his imagination run wild.
I'll discuss a couple of my favorites: The Quit-Devil and Beast of Black Ground. Okay, they're not just my favorites because they supposedly happened in Cape Breton, not totally, they're just very entertaining. In The Quit-Devil, a Glace Bay coal miner makes a deal with the devil to preserve his life. In the end, the man's sense of humour and work ethic wears the frustrated demon down. Beast of Black Ground involves two boys picking blueberries on cursed land in Grand Anse. The area is supposed to be guarded by a ferocious Celtic beast called a Bochdan. There's a twist at the end.
Why I liked these stories the most is because of that combination of fear and humour. I could imagine the first person to tell each story with a twinkle in their eye. Vernon continues this entertaining tradition by putting his own spin on the tales.