Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley
I actually was pleasantly surprised by this little book. This is a collection of urban legends or myths about New England. The most well known starts the book off. This would be the story of Champ, America’s version of Loch Ness (in fact, it seems at least every continent, if not country has one of these). The sources used in this section range the gamut from older material to more modern sources. There is even some science thrown in for good measure.
Champ is probably the best known story outside of New England, and the other stories I was not familiar with at all. There are, however, some variations of them in other sections. New Jersey seems to have version of the Dover Demon and the Pigman. Philadelphia has a variation of the throne mentioned in the chapter about the The Little People’s Village.
And that chapter is actually a nice and surprising one. I love reading books like these because of the folklore and history that are contained in them. Too often, however, authors take some of the stories so seriously. It has a ghost, it’s scary and it must be true. It’s nice to see that Pardis and McManus don’t check their brains out there. The research involved their journeying to the places describe and checking out sources. Sometimes, this means they debunk the story, or to be more accurate, tell the reader the true history.
I have to say that the weakest part for me of this book was the use of Wikipedia in the source listing. I should note that it is my own personal dislike for the use of it as a source. The book does not read like a reworded Wikipedia entry, and Pardis and McManus are at least honest in including. While the book’s tone and style are not quite up to the level of L.B. Taylor Jr’s great books about Virginia, it is an enjoyable read and nicely illustrated with photographs.