Thursday, February 12, 2009

Werewolves (book review)

Werewolves, edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg, is a collection of stories about, well, werewolves. The stories in this book are incredibly varied. In "Bad Blood", by Debra Doyle and J.D. Macdonald, a group of young backpackers is terrorized by a bloodthirsty werewolf in the middle of the night. Who would suspect that the one to save them would be...another werewolf? This was one of my favorite stories.

In "The Werewolf's Gift", by Ru Emerson, an old werewolf, stuck as an animal for the rest of his life, is given the choice to turn back into a man, but throws it away in order to save a young child. This was a heartwarming story, and I enjoyed it as well.

"The White Wolf", by Leigh Ann Hussey, is the story of a young boy, Kagwai, who wants nothing more than to earn an animal totem and learn the ability to change shape...that is, until he spends a few nights away from his village. He meets his grandfather, who has become totally obsessed with the change and spends most of his time in the shape of a wolf, and learns that shapeshifting can have its downsides. But in the end, when the fate of his entire village hangs in the balance, will Kagwai decide to embrace his destiny and his animal totem? This story was okay, but I didn't think it was great.

In "Not all Wolves" by Harry Turtledove, a thirteen-year-old werewolf tired of persecution finds solitude in a Jewish ghetto, living with a man who has been persecuted just as many times as he has. This story was also okay, but not great.

"Wolfskin", by Mary K. Whittington, is a futuristic werewolf story about a young boy named Gwehr, who has finally been admitted to the Hall of Shapeshifting! In this building, one can put on the "skin" of a creature (kraken, dragon, vampire, etc.) and, for a time, be transported into a virtual world where one IS that creature. Gwehr has been waiting forever for this day, but unfortunately the only creature left is a werewolf. But, once he's tried it, Gwehr decides that he loves roaming as a wolf, and he secretly takes the skin home with him. He slips it back on in his room, not expecting himself to actually change...but he does. He enters the enchanted world of the werewolf, and decides that he will never turn back into a boy...but when the sun rises, the magic fades, and in the end Gwehr has no choice but to part with the skin. I really enjoyed this story.

"Night Calls", by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, is the story of a young girl whose village is being plagued by bloodthirsty werewolves. She longs to go out and fight them with her father, but, unfortunately, she's expected to stay home with her mother while her older brothers fight. Soon, all the werewolves are killed except one. But she never expected that werewolf would be...her brother. I didn't like this story that much.

"Wolf from the Door", by Elizabeth Scarborough, is the humorous story of a young girl, Lucy Garou, conducting a study on wolves. The only problem is--in the term paper she's trying to complete, Life Cycle of the Wolf, she's completely personified all the wolves she studied. And, as her professor reminds her, this is a scientific class, not a creative writing one. Basically, he's given her an F, and she isn't too happy, no matter how much Professor Forrest thinks she might deserve it. Because Lucy Garou has a good reason for personifying the wolves--she's one of them! And it's not wise to draw the wrath of a werewolf...we're left wondering what unhappy fate Professor Forrest will meet. This was a very funny story that left me hanging.

In "Monster Mash", by Sherwood Smith, a girl named Cat is a drummer in a school rock band called The Nerds...when she isn't running free in the shape of a wolf. But one night, a big concert coincides with the full moon. Good thing it's Halloween, because Cat has a plan. She'll pretend to be dressed in a costume the whole time! Can she be clever and resourceful enough to pull this off, or will the night end in disaster? This story was okay.

"The Passing of the Pack", by Bruce Coville, was the story of a young boy who's always had a strange connection with wolves. They seem to be there watching him whenever he turns around. And one day, when he is prosecuted and thrown in jail along with his friend, Wandis, the wolves come to rescue him, and take him to his mysterious father, who just happens to be a werewolf! And his father wants to pass the responsibility of leader of the wolf pack on to him! Will he accept his destiny, or will he remain human forever? This was an excellent story.

In "Flesh and Blood", by Marguerite W. Davol, Sally's spending her whole summer in a boring European village called Krev. But things start to get exciting when she discovers a chest full of clothes...along with a mysterious furry belt that seems to fit her just right. But when she tries the clothes on, she experiences an intense bloodlust and a painful change from a human to something in between human and wolf. The problem is that she can't seem to get the clothes off! Is she doomed to life as a bloody monster forever? This story was okay.

In "Green Messiah", by Jane Yolen, the ultimate science experiment is attempted as a girl is transformed into a wolf in order to gain important data that she couldn't have otherwise. But, once experiencing the wonderful change, she decides to throw her responsibilities to the wind and run free as a wolf forever. I loved this story!

"The Wolf's Flock", by Susan Shwartz, is the story of a young werewolf who wants to rid himself of his curse forever. He embarks on an incredibly long journey, accompanied by a group of children who are heading for the same place that he is. He grows to feel at home among them, and when their lives are threatened, he must reveal his secret in order to save them. I liked this story.

In "Met by Moonlight", by Anne E. Crompton, teenager Len wanders off on his snowmobile and gets lost in the snow. He meets a strange girl, who asks him about his life, and in turn tells him about hers. Len has come to the conclusion that she's crazy, babbling on and on about wolves, hunting, and blood...until she saves him from an angry wolf...by transforming into one herself! I didn't really enjoy this story.

"A Winter's Night", by Esther M. Friesner, is the tale of a lone Gypsy, whose companions were killed by Nazis, hiding out alone in a cemetery. At least, he thinks he's alone...until he finds a mysterious boy with a big secret...I did not like this story at all. It was very confusing and hard to understand. However, I have read Esther Friesner's book, Nobody's Princess, and I enjoyed that a great deal.

The final story in this book was "One Chance" by Charles de Lint. It is the story of a girl, Susanna, and her friend Billy. They are both unpopular at school, and they hate their lives. But Billy thinks he knows a way to get away from all this...using a bronze wolf figurine, he summons a mysterious wolf that beckons them to follow it to a better world. Billy gladly agrees, but Susanna pulls away at the last second, knowing she's doing the right thing, but feeling great pain inside to see Billy frolicking away with the wolf to a magical world. She knows that she'll never see him again, that this was her one chance...and now it was gone. This was a bittersweet story, and a good end to the book.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

This book was for the Support Your Local Library Challenge.