November 28, 2011

The Lunenburg Werewolf and Other Stories of the Supernatural by Steve Vernon: Review

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I live in a province with a rich storytelling history. Nova Scotians have been swapping stories to impress their neighbours for ages. The more preposterous the story the better, especially if it can be told with a straight face. Some of the best stories are the ones involving the supernatural.

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. 

I highly recommend The Lunenburg Werewolf and just look at that cover. Beautiful and spooky!

Thanks to Nimbus Publishing for the review copy.

Ratings:


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6 comments :

  1. This one sounds fabulous!!! Would be an excellent RIP collection. :D

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  2. I'm originally from NS ... sounds good!

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  3. I've read Steve's other books. He's very good at this genre. He's also my friend!

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  4. I had this out from the library but I ran out of time. I will have to get it back again.

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  5. Thanks for the great review! It really made my day!

    yours in storytelling,

    Steve Vernon

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  6. Andi- Yes, it would be perfect for RIP!

    Teena- Give it a try.

    PureOaknut- Thanks for dropping by!

    Kelly- I think you'd like it.

    Steve- Thanks! I really enjoyed it.

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