photo by naixn
Today is World Book Day, and to celebrate, here’s a guest post from Pennington Beast, featuring her personal list (and accompanying commentary) of books essential to any Lycanthrope Library collection.
1. The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R. McCammon
A Russian-born werewolf spy working for the British Secret Service is recruited to foil a Nazi plan to unleash a secret weapon on invading American and British forces. Picture James Bond, only much more hirsute. The film rights to this 1989 novel were purchased by Universal Studios in 2014. Let’s keep our claws crossed!
2. High Moor (The High Moor series) by Graeme Reynolds
John Simpson and his childhood friends have an unfortunate run-in with a Moonstruck werewolf, one who has lost all control of their wolfen side and becomes a ravenous monster stuck between human and beast every full moon. What follows is a decades long struggle for John Simpson to control his own affliction while maneuvering pack politics and government agencies that want them all exterminated.
note from AQ: Tah the Trickster wrote a glowing review of High Moor for Werewolf News last year
3. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
Werewolves are common in this universe and are a class subject to persecution. A group of lycanthropic terrorists plot a devastating attack on America in order to divide the population and create a new territory where werewolves can live free. With unfortunate results, of course.
4. Bad Wolf (The Bad Wolf Chronicles) by Tim McGregor
Portland, Oregon detective John Gallager and his partner Lara Mendes get a call to investigate a dismembered body found by the riverbank. The killer is a drifter who travels with a pack of feral dogs and declares that he, himself, is a werewolf. The weirdness only escalates from there…
5. The Frenzy Way (The Frenzy Cycle series) by Gregory Lamberson
A little similar to Bad Wolf in that it’s also a detective story, but this time the bodies start popping up around New York City. An elderly professor with a research history in human-animal transformation methods is found dismembered in his Greenwich Village apartment with a strange relic belonging to the Catholic Church in his possession. NYPD captain Anthony Mace is put to the investigation. Mace is unfortunately somewhat of a celebrity, haven taken out the notorious “Full Moon Killer” several years prior. Now he must speculate if this murder spree is a copycat, coincidence, or something more supernatural.
6. SAAMAANTHAA by D. T. Neal
Samantha Hain is a Chicagoan dilettante belonging to a group of painters, poets, and performance artists who call themselves the Horrorshow. When a one night stand with a beautiful stranger leaves her with a chunk of flesh missing from her shoulder, strange things start happening to Samantha’s body and mind. What follows is an orgy of hipsters becoming werewolves and eating other hipsters.
7. The Devourers by Indra Das
A young history professor in modern-day Kolkata, India is approached by a charming, yet strange, storyteller who declares himself to be a half-werewolf. Enraptured by his tale, he agrees to transcribe several ancient scrolls the man claims were passed down to him by his father, a ravenous werewolf from Scandinavia. And the other by his mother, a young woman from the Mughal empire who was raped by his father as his pack was passing through her village, fleeing persecution from the werewolf hunts in Europe. The story transitions back and forth from past to present in a visceral exploration of love, sexuality, violation, gender, friendship, humanity, and identity. Currently available in India, a North American release date is set for June 2016.
8. Autumn Moon by Slade Grayson
Tanneheuk, Montana is a small town kept safe from harm by a pack of werewolves who call themselves The Elders. Their only demand for their protection racket is to be able to hunt a human being once a year -one of the town’s teenagers in a Hunger Games-esque obstacle course. If the child manages to reach the river and cross it before the hunt is over, they are allowed to live. So far, none of them have made it. This grisly tradition has been the norm for years, until a new minister named Drake Burroughs is relocated to Tanneheuk and tries to rally the townspeople against the Elder’s diabolical regime.
9. The Hyde Effect by Steve Vance
Savage animal attacks begin terrorizing a small Southern California town. A teenage girl named Meg Talley miraculously survives and claims that the killer is no natural beast, but a werewolf. Together with a team consisting of journalist Douglas Morgan, horror novelist Blake Corbett, and private detective Nick Grundel they hunt the suspect down. What follows is one of the most horrifying depiction in literature of the sheer force and power a werewolf is capable of. The novel has a slow momentum in the beginning that eventually explodes in an orgasmic cataclysm of visceral terror. No wonder so many (including myself) consider The Hyde Effect to be the quintessential werewolf horror novel. I have but one caveat, avoid the sequel. It’s absolute rubbish.
These are only a fraction of the amount of werewolf novels I’ve read over the past decade and a half. I tried to choose the ones that left the most memorable clawmarks on my psyche, and tried to pick a few that might not be as well-known as others in the genre.
Not enough for you? Here’s some bonus recommendation from our mutual friend Viergacht:
10. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
A vicious, gory, beautifully written deconstruction of classic fairy tales with a definite feminist slant. Basis for the movie “The Company of Wolves”.
11. Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson
An early example of urban fantasy and “scientific-ish” werewolves. A boozy reporter interested in an archeological discovery that proves the existence of supernatural creatures is seduced by a beautiful werewolf whose entraps him in a cult of monsters awaiting the rebirth of the Child of Night, the first pureblood to be born in centuries. Pulpy and stereotypical in some respects (it was written in 1940), it nonetheless has some amazing set pieces and a really cool backstory for its werewolves (who can also turn into other animals, like sabretoothed cats and pterodactyls!).
12. Wilding by Melanie Tem
A multigenerational family of female werewolves struggles to cope with the matriarch’s senile dementia, a mother’s inability to become either fully a wolf or a woman, and a rebellious teen who fails her transformation trial and runs away, pregnant and defiant, while another branch of the family plots to take them over.
13. The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore
Werewolf traditionalists might moan about the lack of “onscreen” lycanthropic action, but they’d be missing one of the cleverest, most offbeat werewolf stories ever, and puts it in perspective: the bloody actions of a single monster pale to insignificance compared to the atrocities humanity commits in wartimes. A bestseller during the Great Depression. Adapted into the movie “The Curse of the Werewolf” starring Oliver Reed.
14. The Jaguar Princess by Clare Bell
Ok, technically not a werewolf, but this novel about an artistic, headstrong young Olmec woman desperately trying to suppress her urge to transform into a jaguar and fit in with the oppressive Aztec society she lives in is rich in emotion and fascinating historical detail.
15. Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King
A collection of twelve short stories chronicles the depredations of a werewolf on a small Maine town, this book is mainly notable for the fantastic illustrations by Bernie Wrightson. (note: he spells it Bernie now but it was Berni when this was published)
16. Operation Chaos by Poul Anderson
Those who like all-wolf werewolves who retain their own personalities will like this one! It takes place in an alternate history where magic is real, and the United States are fighting a very different WW2. Anderson very cleverly combines magic with practicality – the main character uses a Polaroid “Were-flash” to shift back and forth (it’s designed to be used without thumbs) and because of the conservation of mass, he makes a big wolf but a were-tiger is a 600lb man!
17. The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf by Gene DeWeese
An easygoing teen finds himself suddenly turning way hairier than puberty would account for, to the delight of his horror-film-loving best friend Cindy, who promptly starts researching lycanthropy and trying to figure out a way it could be “useful”. One of my favorite werewolf books when I was a kid, I reread it and still enjoyed it as an adult. (Don’t worry, he ends up being a werewolf for much longer than 2 minutes, and he discovers he can take either a cinematic Wolf Man form or a 4-legged that looks like a huge, bristly bulldog faced monster that startles him with his own reflection!).
18. How to Care for Your Monster by Norman Bridwell
A charming tongue-in-cheek kid’s book by the illustrator best known for Clifford the Big Red Dog.
19. The Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Rich Duncan and Bob Powers
So, you were bitten by a large, mysterious canine while walking though the woods or a dark alley during the last full moon? You suddenly are a lot stronger, with keener senses, a short temper and an odd craving for steak? You need this exhaustively researched and complete self-help book.
Have a howling-good #WorldBookDay!