Touchwood Editions, 2017
Reviewed by Amanda Jones
“Rain splatters against the window as lightning flashes across the sky. The dark, empty barroom lights up for a long moment and then another. Thunder shakes the old inn’s beams. Bottles rattle behind the bar. The man slowly steps out of the darkness and onto the wooden floor in rubber gumboots dripping with water. A heavy axe is suspended from his right arm. From beneath his old-fashioned raincoat hood, dark, unblinking eyes stare menacingly…”
This spellbinding collection of folklore is set in one of the most naturally stunning parts of “supernatural” British Columbia. From ethereal forests to mystical coastlines, Vancouver Island is renowned for its visual and spiritual influences on inhabitants and visitors alike.
In this, his first book, local author and journalist Shanon Sinn delves into stories that range from wolf and orca spirits to Sasquatch and serpent myths. Sinn has been connected to supernatural phenomena since childhood and his search for truth led him to write a blog called Living Library about folklore and legends. He also volunteered as a research assistant at the Nanaimo Museum and joined the British Columbia Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society.
Armed with notebooks, recording devices, camping gear, and his passion for the outdoors, Sinn criss-crossed Vancouver Island to compile evidence for this project. He visited an old friend to bring stories from Ahousat and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people, as well as Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations.
The Haunting of Vancouver Island is not merely a collection of stories, it is a journey. Each chapter follows one story and begins with its location on a map of Vancouver Island. In addition to cartography, the book boasts a collection of black-and-white photographs (some from the author himself) and images, a 7-page bibliography, and an 11-page index.
Sinn skillfully constructs each story with care, balancing fact and descriptive language. The Haunting of Vancouver Island: Supernatural Encounters with the Other Side is a comprehensive and enthralling collection of ghost stories about this hauntingly beautiful part of the world.