The Wolfen (1978) is the debut novel of Whitley Strieber.  It tells the story of two police detectives in New York City who are involved in the investigation of suspicious deaths across the city, which are revealed to be the work of a race of intelligent beings descended from wolves, called the Wolfen.  The novel is told from the point of view of the human characters as well from the Wolfen themselves.”


I’m not a huge werewolf fan – with the exception of “An American Werewolf in London.” However, I’ve been trying to get through a list of the top 50 scariest books and The Wolfen was on that list – I figured I would give it a try and see if it changed my views on werewolves.  It did not – I really really did not like this book at all.  I had high hopes because it had received so many positive reviews but I just couldn’t get into it and was left feeling highly disappointed.

I think the thing that bothered me most about this book was the main characters, detectives Becky Neff and George Wilson.  I did not care about either one of them and they just irritated the fuck out of me.  Trust me when I say I really did try to like them and to give this book a chance but nothing about the characters or the werewolves could win me over.  I hated how relatively quick the acceptance of werewolves as being a plausible cause of all the deaths was. Most of the characters needed little convincing and were all like “Oh yeah werewolves?  That makes total sense.”  Helllllooooooooo what?! Something about the notion of werewolves in everyday society just rubbed me the wrong way – it was just too easy to have most everybody accept that they were real.  As for the main characters, I didn’t really think they added anything to the story.  Granted, they were the ones that were on the Wolfen’s tail (no pun intended), but they just didn’t make me want to get to know more about them.  To me, there was no substance to their character and I wasn’t drawn into anything that was going on with their lives – except for Becky Neff’s husband who was being investigated by the police force for being a dirty cop.

I will say this about the book, there was some pretty epic kill scenes.  The first murder of two police officers – which is how we learn about the Wolfen – is pretty badass.  So if there is any credit I’m willing to give this book its coming from the graphic kill scenes.  We learned how the Wolfen killed and disemboweled their victims which gave us the reader some creative visuals for our imagination.  Okay, I’ll give the book one more credit – being inside the mind of the Wolfen.  I’m not saying it was all that special, but there was some particularly interesting moments in the book when you learned what it was like to be inside the mind of a werewolf.  You learned their tactic for killing, their hierarchy, family dynamics, how they have stayed hidden, how they communicated etc. etc. I did find that to be somewhat interesting and it added another layer to the story.  Other than those two things that I mentioned above, I really disliked the book.  Here are my final thoughts:

Concept Story: 1/2
Style/Effect: 1/2
Atmosphere: 1/2
Scares: 0/2
Rereadability: 0/2
TOTAL:  3/10

I don’t want to give up on the whole werewolf genre – so if anyone out there has any good book/movie reviews for werewolves – please let me know!  Until next time…

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