Ever since the first pathways were cleared through Maine’s forested wilderness, something we now call Bigfoot has haunted the edges of civilization. The difference between a contemporary cryptozoological sighting and an encounter with a Wild Man in the eighteenth century is the modern presence of a popularly shared conception of Bigfoot. Whatever one may think of Bigfoot-an extant relict hominid, pure bunk, or something tantalizingly possible-the idea of a large, hairy, man-like creature roaming North American forests is ingrained in our culture. Shadows in the Woods chronicles Maine’s rich Bigfoot record in Native American traditions and beliefs, Wild Man sightings, modern Bigfoot encounters, literary appearances of hairy man-like creatures, and strange somethings in tales and stories suggestive of Bigfoot. Whether physical or ethereal, the mysterious presence behind the legend of Bigfoot casts a significant shadow in the Pine Tree State.
Shadows in the Woods: A Chronicle of Bigfoot in Maine
by Daniel S. Green
Reviewed by Michelle Souliere
First of all, this is a massive book, clocking in at 515 pages, with an 18 page bibliography and a copious 49 pages of notes, chapter by chapter. Unfortunately, it does not have an index, which makes finding specific elements in the book difficult, and the table of contents does not give subject headings for the book sections, although they are in fact clearly organized by category throughout.
Contents include a survey of Maine’s climate and the other large animals that might potentially be competing with Bigfoot for local resources, and an examination of the Wildman phenomena in Maine history. There is some digression into other New England sightings outside of Maine, unclassifiable sightings, and a discussion of Maine disappearances, as in David Paulides’ Missing 411 books, before we swing into gear with a section on actual Bigfoot sightings in Maine, followed by many pages of Maine Victorian-era possibly-Bigfoot fiction.
While Green is thorough and presents novice researchers with a quantity of resources which they would otherwise have to spend years compiling on their own (trust me, I know), there is not much new material for avid researchers of the topic. The information in the book, like most of Coachwhip’s publications, is reprinted from previously published and mostly copyright-free material. This information is well-organized, with lots of imagery and graphics for illustration, and printed in an easy-to-read format. Those who find themselves squinting at small, dense text in other books will not have that problem here.
The major drawback is that there appear to have been no interviews done for the book, the author instead drawing copiously from existing articles, podcasts, and broadcasts, so those of us hoping for fresh material on the subject are bound to be disappointed. My advice would be for readers and Bigfoot enthusiasts to use this book for the substantial resources it presents, and hope that another author is on the job to tackle the next Bigfoot book, one which focuses on the oral history of the monster in Maine.
Michelle Souliere is the author of Strange Maine: True Tales from the Pine Tree State and the owner of the Green Hand Bookshop at 661 Congress St in Portland, Maine, which is located around the corner from the International Cryptozoology Museum (11 Avon Street). She is actively seeking contact with Mainers who have encountered Bigfoot in Maine for her upcoming book on the subject. Eyewitnesses are encouraged to contact her here, or by writing to her at P.O. Box 5302, Portland, ME 04101.
Daniel S. Green is a proud Mainer whose family has lived in the Pine Tree State for over 250 years. He has two baccalaureate degrees from the University of Maine in Psychology and History. A child of the 1970s, he developed an interest in Bigfoot from watching numerous TV shows and films, and reading every book he could find on the subject. Shadows in the Woods, combining his loves of home and Bigfoot, is his first published book. He has served full time in the United States Army since 1999 and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is married to his best friend, Holly, and together they have two sons.