One of the things I particularly enjoy when it comes to the matter of Cryptozoology is the “regional” angle of it all. By that, I mean while just about everyone in the the subject of monster-hunting gets to hear of breaking stories and growing cases, lesser-known events sometimes to tend to fall into nothingness. Unless, that is, there’s someone in the area to stay on top of things. And that’s exactly what Joseph A. Citro has done with his new book, The Vermont Monster Guide. See what I mean? I’m talking about having a dedicated figure who can ensure that even the most obscure incident is carefully chronicled. And, I have to say that, in his new book, Joseph has done exactly that. With an excellent, cool, comic-book-style cover designed by Stephen R. Bissette, this is the perfect source if you want to know of the many and varied monsters of Vermont, also known as the Green Mountain State. So, with that said, let’s get to the book.
Joseph’s book is split into three sections: “Earth;” “Air;” and “Water.” Yes, there are some familiar beasts under the microscope, such as Bigfoot, the mighty bird known as the Thunderbird, mysterious – and out of place – and the Shadow People, but that’s just a tiny percentage of the overall work. How about the Pigman? Joseph says of the man-beast of Northfield, VT that the “porcine phantom” has a “preposterous pig-like face,” a body around the height of the average man, and with huge claws and nothing less than “cloven feet.”
While just about everyone knows the words “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” the Vermont Bigfoot (or, rather, one of them) is known as the Goonyak. A variation on it is the “Black Beast of Snake Mountain.” How about a few giant-sized rabbits? Yep. We’re told: “They are distinctive not only because of their size but also for their red, glowing eyes.” In comical fashion, Joseph adds: “No one has ever accused these giant rabbits of doing any harm, but most people agree they would not make good pets. And a confrontation with one could be pretty harey [sic]” For people who are new to the legend of the Windigo, there’s a cool section on the history of the dangerous monster: “Compelled by preternatural forces, the Windigo runs maniacally through the limitless forest, stopping only to feed on tribesmen who have become lost…Many folklorists believe that Windigo legends arose from the American Indian’s strong cultural aversion to cannibalism.”
Now, let’s move onto Vermont’s equivalents to Ogopogo and the Loch Ness Monster. That’s right: lake-monsters. Certainly, Champ is without doubt the most famous and legendary of all Vermont’s water-based beasts. We should not, however, forget the handful of other strange things that lurk below. The “Willoughby Wisp” – of Lake Willoughby – is one of them. Like many lake-monsters, he, she, or it, is describe as having two or three humps and a long neck. Interestingly, this creature may well have had its origins in the domain of giant eels. In other words, the monsters of the lake may actually be gigantic equivalents of completely known beasts. But, should you see one up close then you probably wouldn’t quibble about it being a monster or not!
Not quite monsters, but certainly potentially dangerous are the state’s large cats. As Joseph says: “Large mystery felines have been spotted all over the state. They are called catamounts, mountain lions, cougars, giant panthers – and there’s the other mysterious subset of long-legged cats, unheard of in this region. All have one thing in common: they’re not supposed to be here.” The list goes on. Be prepared to come face to face – so to speak! – with numerous other monsters, including the “Three Hundred-Pound Bloodsucker,” “Groton’s Godzilla,” “King Moose,” and the “Buck Mountain Whatzit.” The Vermont Monster Guide is a fun book, one that is perfect for reading around a campfire on Halloween. And in dark, shadowy woods, of course. Check it out!