Tag Archives: Supernatural

Great Canadian Ghost Stories, and Where to Find Them

21 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Book launch on Oct 23, 7pm at Bolen Books
1644 Hillside Ave #111, Victoria, BC

Fans of supernatural lore can easily find a wide selection of Barbara Smith’s books collecting ghost stories in many a public library. Each of them focuses on a specific region and as she wrote in her latest work, Great Canadian Ghost Stories from Coast to Coast, “Please know that all my books of ghost stories, including this one, have been written to entertain and inform, not to change anyone’s belief systems.”

From Labrador to Vancouver Island, this work does a great job at offering the best-known tales to read before bed. I found The Isle of Demons from way out East particularly sad — a newlywed family was left to fend for themselves there, but its reputation got the better of sailors when they needed help — and for Victoria, British Columbia, my home, to decide on which story is best to spotlight must have been tough. Two are offered: the shade at Beacon Hill Park (too common of an entry in many works for my taste). I had an experience at Hatley Castle, and that’s my number one choice. Understandably, the administration wants to play that down, but the stories and what I heard says it all.

Another I’m trying to encounter is the Time Slip on Shelbourne street. I drove through this path many an October night for the past several years. The thought of this path becoming country is theoretically an illusion because when tired, the autumn foliage can trick the mind. I have a slip of paper in a plastic mylar bag to drop to test the theory of, “If you find this note, please find me in the years of 1978 and onwards.” My interest in the paranormal started in that decade.

This superlative collection covers favourites like The Dungarvon Whooper, The Ghosts of Fort George and The Banff Springs Hotel. I’m still looking for mention of the Sooke Staircase and feel this piece of folklore is overlooked! Another entry to note about my home province is that no, the doll Mandy did not inspire the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name. The movie took place in the Shadow Mountains of California, and it has its own demons for visitors to deal with.

I particularly enjoyed how this work represents the Great White North as a whole. The folklore from Nunavut is most likely still being pieced together. When considering how widespread and isolated citizens are, I firmly believe we have a lot of cabins in the woods scenarios. To find one that’s not akin to Evil Dead will be difficult.

The content offered in this collection is reading time well spent. Smith’s prose is easy to follow. Although I know more than half the stories already, they are worth revisiting when the mood strikes. She’s been writing these books since 1993, and her experience shows. She tells these tales as though she’s passing knowledge from one generation to another so that certain aspects of Canada’s past are not forgotten. The loss of lives at sea will always be hard-hitting. Mariner tales, especially “Mysterious Rescue,” early in this book sets the tone. Sometimes, those “Ghostly Footsteps” are just that; the dead has no interaction with the living, but are fleeting memories so we can at least acknowledge their presence. The entry on “Historical Hamilton House” hits all the right notes not only about the rise of Spiritualism in Canada and why many took to it, but also explains the Ackroyd connection. This family’s interest spanned generations and the comedian took ideas to pen the comedy classic Ghostbusters.

Barbara Smith’s books are often found in bookstores when the Halloween season arises. This latest work updates a few details. There’s no denying we all love a good ghost story by the campfire, but when we want to go find answers, that’s a different kettle of fish. My advice: just do not try (not many books stand out) and simply enjoy discovering Canada’s past from a supernatural angle. I feel that’s this book’s purpose, as I would love to ride those haunted railways once again.

Advertisements

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs & Eldritch Men, A Review

14 Aug

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Due to hit shelves August 22, 2018

Beasts of Burden is one of Dark Horse Comics‘ sweet gems which is very playful in its artistic depictions of the heroes, and cunning with the types of supernatural tales weaved. I became aware of this work by writer Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson when I purchased the anthology collection, Dark Horse’s Book of Hauntings. Here, cats and dogs work together to deal with paranormal threats. Usually, the humans are nowhere to be seen. As they go about their daily life, a dangerous undercurrent takes place. In Burden Hill, these adorable animals are protectors of humanity from the evil that’s afoot.

The latest work teams Dorkin with Benjamin Dewey. Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men sees a different team at work. Canines are investigating why a fire salamander was captured. As innocent as this elemental is, the carnage resulting from him trying to escape his capture has Emrys, a Tibetan Terrier (the leader of the pack) investigate. This tale has all the hallmarks of a terrific detective novel. If the goblins one of these lads accidentally unleashed are any indication, perhaps trolls are next?

As the title implies, human wizards are using the forests around the Pocono Mountains to ferret out supernatural creatures. They manage to capture one, and when Emrys realizes what is going on, the team definitely has to prevent the evil from establishing a foothold in them thar hills. Just how this tale will unfold will take four comics to tell, and I am hooked with issue one, due out in shelves August 22nd.

Continue reading

Dark Horse Comics’ Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites Lands on May 9th!

9 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

If Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson‘s Beasts of Burden ever finally becomes a movie, I will be there opening night. This writer and artist team crafted a wonderful world where animals, not people, investigate the supernatural! The reasoning is very sound; animals have senses humans do not to perceive paranormal goings-on. This treatment should have materialized by now; news broke back in 2013 and has since been in development hell.

In the interim, Dark Horse Comics release of new works is equally sporadic, mostly due to the team having busy independent schedules. This team first appeared in The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings (2003), and it has accumulated to Animal Rites (Amazon Link), to be reprinted as a trade paperback on May 9th, 2018 — a perfect jumping in point for newcomers — and Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men, all-new tales on August 22, 2018.

Continue reading

It’s Scoobynatural! Reviews and Thoughts

15 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The CW’s Supernatural is a strange beast. I once truly loved the show, especially the super early years. When it decided to go meta, my interest faltered. I accepted the idea of their story being chronicled by a third party and the episode, “Changing Channels” was cute. However, the later seasons lacked a certain je ne sais quoi which original creator/producer Kripke imbued into the series. He remained as a producer, but with the control in other hands, the foundations were shaky. Not every mythological figure was nicely adapted for pop culture appropriation.

When the series went too crazy meta with “The French Mistake (season six),” I did not know if I should always tune in for the next episode. Some ideas were terrific, but others, like season ten’s “Fan Fiction” just went too far; enter the Scooby-pocalypse. Originally, I just did not know about this crossover with Scooby Doo, a beloved property from my youth. Mystery Incorporated easily rivals Supernatural for its grande scheme and does it right. With a nervous finger, I finally triggered the play on the PVR with this episode.

Continue reading