Showing posts with label werewolves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label werewolves. Show all posts

Thursday, 17 September 2015

OUT NOW: Werewolves Versus the 1990s

https://gumroad.com/l/wv01#


A full-colour, mind-warping, 80+ page collection of werewolf art, stories, poetry and comics. Inspired by the decade of skateboards, clam digger shorts, AOL disks and the colour aqua.

Edited, designed and produced by A. Quinton
Cover art by Tandye

Contents:

Art: Kathy Lea Moyou, Joe Williamson, Ludovic, Tandye, HamsterToybox

Comics: Mike Roukas, Todd A. McCullough

Poetry and stories:
Dial-Up by Tah the Trickster
Wasco by Laura Cuthbert
My Hazy Recollections Of Project: Metalbeast by Craig J. Clark
The Werewolves Of Brainerd by Dan Wallbank
Beasts Pay Their Dues by Slay
Heat Wave by Joey Liverwurst
Ill Will by Hannah Kate
FBI Warning by A. Quinton
'N Amerikaanse Weerwolf in Kaapstad by Lew “Viergacht” Delport

To get a copy of the zine (pay whatever amount you think is fair), please click here.

To find out more about this and future issues of Werewolves Versus, please click here.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

OUT NOW: European Monsters (Fox Spirit, 2014)

Edited by Margrét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas



Blurb:

They lurk and crawl and fly in the shadows of our mind. We know them from ancient legends and tales whispered by the campfire. They hide under the dark bridge, in the deep woods or out on the great plains, in the drizzling rain forest or out on the foggy moor, beneath the surface, under your bed. They don't sparkle or have any interest in us except to tear us apart. They are the monsters! Forgotten, unknown, misunderstood, overused, watered down. We adore them still. We want to give them a renaissance, to re-establish their dark reputation, to give them a comeback, let the world know of their real terror.

Contents:

Here Be Monsters! by Jo Thomas and Margrét Helgadóttir
Herne by J.C. Grimwood
Vijka by Anne Michaud
Broken Bridges by James Bennett
Upon the Wash of the Fjord by Byron Black
Nimby by Hannah Kate
Black Shuck by Joan De La Haye
A Very Modern Monster by Aliya Whiteley
Mother Knows Worst by Jasper Bank and Fabian Tuñon Benzo (artist)
Fly, My Dear, Fly by Nerine Dorman
Melanie by Aliette de Bodard
Moments by Krista Walsh
Hafgufa Rising by Chris Galvin
Old Bones by Peter Damien
The Cursed One by Icy Sedgwick
Serpent Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Eugene Smith (artist)

For more information about the book, please visit the publisher's website.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No 1

And so we come to the end of Digital Front's countdown of his Top Ten werewolf films, and the end of #lycanthrovember. I hope you've enjoyed this Top Ten - and leave your comments below if you disagree with any of the choices!

All that remains is to reveal Digital Front's selection for the No. 1 slot - the best werewolf film of all time. To be honest, if you've been reading this countdown from No. 10 and you still need me to reveal the film that came in at No. 1, then I'm going to have to sentence you to watch all 5 Twilight films (that's right - both parts of Breaking Dawn) as a punishment. And maybe Red Riding Hood too - it depends how cruel I'm feeling.

Digital Front's No. 1 werewolf film is (of course)...

An American Werewolf in London (1981)






Director: John Landis
Stars: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine
Tagline: Beware the Moon

Summary:
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Digital Front's Review:
An American Werewolf in London was released the same year as The Howling, but somehow has fared much better against the ravages of time than its rival.

Two American students are backpacking around Europe and find themselves in the Yorkshire Dales. They come across a remote village where the locals are inhospitable to say the least, not taking kindly to a couple of strangers in their midst. After being made aware they're really not welcome, they head back out into the night with a few words of advice: "Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors." Advice that they accidentally ignore, resulting with one of them dead and the other seriously injured.

The surviving tourist, David Kessler (David Naughton), awakes in a London hospital under the care of Dr Hirsch (John Woodvine) and Nurse Price (Jenny Agutter), who inform him of his friend's demise and David's lucky escape from an attack by "a madman". But David insists they were attacked by an animal, not a man.

David eventually leaves the hospital under the care of Nurse Price who offers him a place to stay for a few days. David is plagued by horrific dreams and thinks he's losing his mind as he is also visited by his dead friend who informs him that he is now a werewolf and should kill himself before he hurts anyone. What soon follows is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history, as David does indeed transform into a werewolf, just as his friend Jack had warned.

There aren't many films that have successfully combined horror and comedy. An American Werewolf in London achieves this with perfect precision - at its heart is a horror with enough blood and gore to satisfy any fan, while the constant undercurrent of humour provides enough charm and relief to prevent the darker elements from becoming exhausting.

Incidentally, this film did lead to a sequel (An American Werewolf in Paris), but it's certainly one to avoid in my opinion.

Though it's probably no surprise to find this film happily sitting at the top of the pile in the No. 1 slot, it's No. 1 for many people for a very good reason. It's the perfect werewolf film.

***

So... I hope you've enjoyed this countdown of werewolf cinema, brought to you by my lovely husband. I'm now off to go through his choices and completely disagree with them in the comments section. If you've liked this Top Ten, I'm planning on posting a countdown of my own shortly - this time, the Top Ten werewolf novels. Watch this space! Awwwooooooo!

Go on... you know you want to listen to this song right now...


Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 2

And so we near the end of Digital Front's lycanthropic countdown. Time to announce the runner-up...

Drum roll please...

In second place, it's...

Dog Soldiers (2002)






Director: Neil Marshall
Stars: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby
Tagline: Six soldiers. Full moon. No chance.

Summary:
A routine military exercise in the highlands of Scotland turns very bloody very quickly.

Digital Front's Review:
A squad of British soldiers lead by Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee) are on a training exercise in Scotland only to discover the massacred remains of the special forces squad they have been pitted against. It's not long before they encounter what was behind the brutal slayings and, as they're only armed with blanks, decide to get the hell out of there.

They're saved by Megan (Emma Cleasby) who takes them to a nearby farmhouse and fills them in on the local wildlife - werewolves as it happens. The same werewolves that soon lay siege to the farmhouse leaving the weaponless soldiers and Megan completely stranded and battling for their lives.

This is not a complicated film by any stretch. It's a 'cabin in the woods' scenario with a group of people stranded and fighting for their lives by whatever means necessary - but it's a formula that has worked to great effect for countless classics and Dog Soldiers is no exception. There's plenty of humour, horror, action, a revelation (fair enough it could be seen from miles away but the film is too enjoyable for that to be a negative point), a noble sacrifice, and a satisfying resolution. Spoiler alert - the dog makes it out unscathed too, so gets to join the likes of Jones the Cat in the Horror Film Pet Survivors Hall of Fame.

Another aspect of the film I've always loved is the werewolves themselves. There's no crazy CGI effects on show... instead the filmmakers opted for brief glimpses of the creatures and that's always far more effective in my view.

The soldiers rendered impotent by their absence of firepower are entirely believable and serve as an interesting contrast to Megan, the only female in the film, who is much stronger and collected throughout. Then again, perhaps she knows something that they don't.

All in all, a fantastic werewolf romp that hits all the right notes for me.

Click here to find out what's at No. 1!

Or go back to No. 3!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 3

So we enter the Top Three of Digital Front's Top Ten werewolf films... so let's find out which lycanthropic gem scooped the bronze medal...

Ginger Snaps (2000)





Director: John Fawcett
Stars: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche
Tagline: She's got the curse.

Summary:
Two sisters must deal with the tragic consequences when one of them is bitten by a werewolf.

Digital Front's Review:
In stark contrast to many of the films in this werewolf Top Ten, Ginger Snaps is quite a dark, sombre and gory film.

The story centres around two sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigette (Emily Perkins), whose hobby is photographing death scenes that they've staged and making pacts about dying together. This idyllic existence isn't to last though, as Ginger is bitten one night by a werewolf that has been terrorizing the local canine population. This life changing event also happens on the same day as Ginger gets her first period.

Ginger then starts to gradually change, both physically and in terms of temperament, and Brigette is locked in a race against time to save her sister.

Ginger Snaps is similar to The Company of Wolves in terms of the underlying narrative focusing on the transformation to womanhood, but takes a slightly different direction by drawing reasonably blunt but not overstated direct comparisons to werewolves rather than helpless innocent women being preyed upon.

It's a welcome change watching a werewolf film that isn't dominated by big beastly hirsute men and helpless weak women, but sadly Ginger Snaps falls into a minority in that respect.

The film has spawned two sequels (Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back) but sadly they are considerably weaker than the original. I'm undecided if that's because they are genuinely just not up to par or that Ginger Snaps was just too damned good to follow up. This film is one of a kind and just has to be in any serious werewolf fan's collection.

Click here for No. 2!

Or go back to No. 4!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 4

We're counting down the Top Ten werewolf films (according to the lovely Digital Front). In fourth place, it's...

Wolf (1994)






Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader
Tagline: The animal is out.

Summary:
An ageing publisher is down on his luck, until he is bitten by a wolf and suddenly finds himself rejuvenated.

Digital Front's Review:
Wolf is a bit difficult to categorize - it's not a traditional horror, drama or thriller... it's an off-beat combination of the three.

Will Randall (Nicholson) is a meek and mild-mannered literary editor who loses his job, his wife, and to top it all off is bitten by a wolf. To rub his nose in it a little further, he also discovers that Stewart Swinton (Spader) has not only taken Will's job, but is also the man that has been having an affair with his wife.

However, it's not all doom and gloom for Will as he discovers that since being bitten by the wolf, his senses are starting to get much stronger. And he has so much more energy too. Actually I lied, it is still a bit doom and gloom because all this power comes at a price - Will has also started to have blackouts which always coincide with a tragedy (for example, his wife's murder). And Will also comes to realize he's actually starting to look more and more like a wolf...

Will meets his former boss's daughter, Laura (Pfeiffer), and amid their burgeoning relationship he turns to her for help fearing the worst about his blackouts and growing animalistic urges.

And I'm going to leave it there, because otherwise I'll ruin the film for anyone who hasn't seen it.

The reason Wolf ranks so highly in this list is because it just has a real charm about it. As I mentioned at the beginning, this isn't a standard werewolf film. It's very tongue-in-cheek, and as you'd expect with the calibre of talent on show the performances by the cast are absolutely top notch. Highly recommended.

Click here for No. 3!

Or go back to No. 5!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 5

We're currently counting down Digital Front's Top Ten werewolf films, to celebrate the last day of #lycanthrovember. And at No. 5...

Silver Bullet (1985)






Director: Daniel Attias
Stars: Gary Busey, Megan Follows, Corey Haim
Tagline: When darkness falls, terror rises.

Summary:
A werewolf terrorizes a small town where only a young paralytic boy knows the truth behind the spate of killings.

Digital Front's Review: Based on a Stephen King novella called Cycle of the Werewolf, Silver Bullet takes place in Tarker's Mills - a trademark King sleepy New England town. Well, not such a sleepy town anymore. Someone is stalking Tarker's Mills every full moon and ripping people to pieces...

Naturally, all the inhabitants of this small town believe a serial killer is on the loose. All except Marty (Corey Haim), a young disabled boy. He believes a werewolf is to blame.

Cue an expected turn of events - the townsfolk form vigilante groups and hunt the killer, only to be picked off in the process, and Marty's sceptical sister Jane (Megan Follows) accepts his werewolf theory after the two have a run-in with the beast. The pair then hunt down the man behind the furry transformations.

Silver Bullet isn't original, it's not groundbreaking, it's not cerebral in any way. But it is a lot of fun, and that's an element I find missing from many werewolf films.

Click here for No. 4!

Or go back to No. 6!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 6

And at No. 6 in Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films...

The Howling (1981)






Director: Joe Dante
Stars: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan
Tagline: Imagine your worst fear a reality.

Summary:
After a near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television reporter is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Digital Front's Review:
This is one of the bigger werewolf films of our time. After a near death experience at the hands of a notorious murderer, reporter Karen undertakes a course of therapy at a secluded retreat called The Colony.

Predictably, this gives plenty of opportunity for howls from the forest at night, mutilated animals in the forest, and strange inhabitants at The Colony. This also gives rise (no pun intended) to a fair amount of carnal activity, which does underline the animalistic nature of Karen's newly acquired co-inhabitants but also feels a little gratuitous.

Although the film hasn't aged particularly well, The Howling marries a decent storyline and horror in an almost perfect ratio, producing a classic and watchable werewolf flick.

Click here for No. 5!

Or go back to No. 7!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 7

We're now at No. 7 in Digital Front's top ten werewolf films... and in at seventh place, we have...

Bad Moon (1996)






Director: Eric Red
Stars: Mariel Hemingway, Michael Paré, Mason Gamble
Tagline: Half man. Half wolf. Total terror.

Summary:
While on assignment in a remote jungle, an American photojournalist is attacked by a fearsome werewolf. He survives the encounter with only a nasty bite, but becomes a werewolf himself. Appalled by his bloodthirst, Ted goes to stay with his sister in the hope that she can stop him, but her dog knows his secret.

Digital Front's Review:
Bad Moon is one of those hidden gems. You'd be forgiven for never having heard of this film, and if that's the case you're really missing out.

Distilled to its basic elements, Bad Moon could have been called "Werewolf Versus German Shepherd". A photographer (Ted) is bitten by a werewolf while on assignment. Disgusted by what he's become, Ted goes to stay with his sister (Janet), her son (Brett), and their pet dog (Thor). And Thor is really not happy about having a werewolf living under the same roof.

Don't misunderstand me, Bad Moon is not a flawless masterpiece of cinema by any stretch. It's clearly low budget, and some of the acting really grates (particularly Brett). The werewolf itself isn't exactly convincing either and everything is a bit rough round the edges, but none of these things derail a very decent film.

Where Bad Moon shines (no pun intended) is with a slight departure from the standard werewolf fare but also the real star of the film. Thor. Trust me, you'll be rooting for that fella.

Click here for No. 6!

Or go back to No. 8!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 8

And at No. 8 in Digital Front's Top Ten werewolf films, we have...

The Company of Wolves (1984)






Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, David Warner
Tagline: The desire... the fantasy... the nightmare.

Summary:
After hearing her grandmother's stories about dangerous men, a 13-year-old girl has nightmares that transform her into Little Red Riding Hood.

Digital Front's Review:
Based on Angela Carter's short story of the same name, and co-written by Carter and director Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves is a fantasy dream world containing dreams within that dream. Rosaleen is a young girl haunted by her grandmother's stories that serve as a warning to be wary of men, particularly those whose eyebrows meet in the middle.

It's quite a difficult film to make sense of at times, and its highly stylized macabre tone can be quite unsettling. Littered with coming of age sexual undertones, The Company of Wolves is a metaphor whereby the innocent Little Red Riding Hood is suddenly exposed to a world where werewolves, or beastly men, prey upon women.

Essentially, if you're looking to rip open the popcorn and enjoy some mindless gruesome werewolf action then you will be sorely disappointed.

Moving along from the cerebral aspect however, on another level this is a beautiful film. The production is as clever as the narrative, and although it's now 30 years old the imagery is really quite breathtaking at times, shunning creepy forests for obvious sets that somehow really add to the viewers immersion into the dream world on show.

Yes, it's weird. Yes, it's occasionally difficult to follow. But this film has charm, originality, and vivid visuals that take it to a whole new level and hopefully may inspire more werewolf films to take a path lesser travelled.

Click here for No. 7!

Or go back to No. 9!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 9

Continuing Digital Front's countdown of the Top Ten Werewolf films... in 9th place we have...

The Wolfman (2010)





Director: Joe Johnston
Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt
Tagline: The legend is alive.

Summary:
A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him can not possibly exist.

Digital Front's Review:
A remake of the 1941 film starring Lon Chaney Jr., The Wolfman boasts a healthy cast of big names, big production values, and beautifully captures a dark and foreboding Victorian gothic atmosphere. Everything is dark and subdued - not only the visuals, but (on the whole) the performances as well.

As a horror fan, the addition of gore to the remake is also very welcome, updating the more family friendly format of the original. Anthony Hopkins is, as you'd expect, thoroughly dark and turns in a great turn as Lord Talbot.

There are disappointments however. The eponymous wolfman, in being faithful to the original, doesn't really fit with the polished visuals of the 2010 version. I appreciate the decision to not rely on CG and stick with prosthetics, but it never really hits the mark. And Del Toro, while arguably a great actor, for me is miscast in this film.

On the whole, The Wolfman is a little too subdued and in places really drags its heels. At times it feels like there was never a definitive vision that would add to the original, but it's definitely worth taking a peek at.

Click here for No. 8!

Or go back to No. 10!

Digital Front's Top Ten Werewolf Films: No. 10

To celebrate the end of #lycanthrovember (which, admittedly, seems to have run slightly longer than November as originally planned), I asked independent musician and husband-of-me, Digital Front to come up with his top ten werewolf films. Let's see how many you agree with!

And so... in 10th place...

Underworld (2003)





Director: Len Wiseman
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen
Tagline: An immortal battle for supremacy.

Summary:
Vampires and Lycans have been warring for centuries. Vampire Selene wonders why the enemy are interested in a particular human, Michael, but when she discovers a conspiracy between a Vampire traitor and a Lycan leader, she is forced to question her own origins.

Digital Front's review:
Underworld has all the ingredients for an amazing film - vampires and werewolves have been at war for centuries, beating the stuffing out of each other on a regular basis in a battle for supremacy and world domination. It's stylish, dark, and I really want to love the film.

And that's why it's in this list, albeit at the very bottom. Underworld should be a fantastic action fantasy exploring a power struggle between legendary monsters... but what we get is essentially a visually stunning but hollow film, trading an amazing plot opportunity for countless fight scenes that rapidly become dull carbon copies of each other.

There are a few sequels to the film, but Underworld is by far the better of the franchise. That isn't really saying much, sadly.

If you like your films to look nice, dish out lots of fight scenes, and have Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather fetish catsuit - Underworld will certainly keep you entertained. If however you like a substantial plot tying everything together, then Underworld is really not for you.

Click here for No. 9!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

#lycanthrovember

As some of you might have seen, Hic Dragones have been talking a bit about #lycanthrovember, so I thought I'd do a quick blog post about it. #lycanthrovember was my idea, as basically a month-long version of #WerewolfWednesday. (And yes, I did come up with the name. And no, it's not my best work.) It's shaping up to be quite a werewolf-y month for me, so I thought it would be cool to share the lycanthropic love on social media - if you have any werewolf related projects, artwork, books or films, feel free to add the hashtag so we can share them.

To kick off, then, at Hic Dragones are running a November-long offer on K Bannerman's wonderful Canadian werewolf novel The Tattooed Wolf: order the paperback or eBook from the Hic Dragones website and get our short collection Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny absolutely free!


Also from Hic Dragones, if you fancy a bit of Victorian Gothic werewolf fiction, Digital Periodicals is currently serializing George Reynolds' Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf. New instalments are published every fortnight in eBook formats, and are available for the princely sum of £1.


On a personal note, I have a werewolf short story entitled 'Nimby' coming out in the Fox Spirit Books' European Monsters anthology. I'll be blogging a bit more about that as the publication date gets closer. And my academic book on female werewolves (with Manchester University Press) finally has a wonderful cover and a publication date: She-Wolf: a Cultural History of Female Werewolves will be out in April 2015.

Now it's over to you... what werewolf-y things would you like to plug this month?

Happy #lycanthrovember!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

OUT NOW: Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain (D.S. Brewer, 2014)

Edited by Amanda Hopkins, Robert Allen Rouse and Cory James Rushton



It is often said that the past is a foreign country where they do things differently, and perhaps no type of "doing" is more fascinating than sexual desires and behaviours. Our modern view of medieval sexuality is characterised by a polarising dichotomy between the swooning love-struck knights and ladies of romance on one hand, and the darkly imagined and misogyny of an unenlightened "medieval" sexuality on the other. British medieval sexual culture also exhibits such dualities through the influential paradigms of sinner or saint, virgin or whore, and protector or defiler of women. However, such sexual identities are rarely coherent or stable, and it is in the grey areas, the interstices between normative modes of sexuality, that we find the most compelling instances of erotic frisson and sexual expression.

This collection of essays brings together a wide-ranging discussion of the sexual possibilities and fantasies of medieval Britain as they manifest themselves in the literature of the period. Taking as their matter texts and authors as diverse as Chaucer, Gower, Dunbar, Malory, alchemical treatises, and romances, the contributions reveal a surprising variety of attitudes, strategies and sexual subject positions.

About the Editors:

Amanda Hopkins teaches in English and French at the University of Warwick; Robert Allen Rouse is Associate Professor of English at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Cory James Rushton is Associate Professor of English at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Contents:

Introduction: A Light Thrown upon Darkness: Writing about Medieval British Sexuality
Robert Allen Rouse and Cory James Rushton

1. ‘Open manslaughter and bold bawdry’: Male Sexuality as a Cause of Disruption in Malory’s Morte Darthur
Kristina Hildebrand

2. Erotic (Subject) Positions in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale
Amy S. Kaufman

3. Enter the Bedroom: Managing Space for the Erotic in Middle English Romance
Megan G. Leitch

4. ‘Naked as a nedyll’: The Eroticism of Malory’s Elaine
Yvette Kisor

5. ‘How love and I togedre met’: Gower, Amans and the Lessons of Venus in the Confessio Amantis
Samantha J. Rayner

6. ‘Bogeysliche as a boye’: Performing Sexuality in William of Palerne
Hannah Priest

7. Fairy Lovers: Sexuality, Order and Narrative in Medieval Romance
Aisling Byrne

8. Text as Stone: Desire, Sex, and the Figurative Hermaphrodite in the Ordinal and Compound of Alchemy
Cynthea Masson

9. Animality, Sexuality and the Abject in Three of Dunbar’s Satirical Poems
Anna Caughey

10. The Awful Passion of Pandarus
Cory James Rushton

11. Invisible Woman: Rape as a Chivalric Necessity in Medieval Romance
Amy N. Vines

For more information, please visit the publisher's website.

Friday, 13 June 2014

WIN 3 BOOKS! Wolf-Girls Competition (International Entry)

A fantastic new competition from Hic Dragones...



Enter now via the Rafflecopter widget below for a chance to win 3 wonderful paperbacks PLUS an exclusive WOLF-GIRLS tote bag!

Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lygogyny
edited by Hannah Kate



Feral, vicious, fierce and lost… the she-wolf is a strange creature of the night. Attractive to some; repulsive to others, she stalks the fringes of our world as though it were her prey. She is the baddest of girls, the fatalest of femmes – but she is also the excluded, the abject, the monster. The Wolf-Girls within these pages are mad, bad and dangerous to know. But they are also rejected and tortured, loving and loyal, avenging and triumphant. Some of them are even human…

Seventeen new tales of dark, snarling lycogyny by Nu Yang, Mary Borsellino, Lyn Lockwood, Mihaela Nicolescu, L. Lark, Jeanette Greaves, Kim Bannerman, Lynsey May, Hannah Kate, J. K. Coi, Rosie Garland, R. A. Martens, Beth Daley, Marie Cruz, Helen Cross, Andrew Quinton and Sarah Peacock.

In addition to this lycanthropic anthology, the prize also includes novels by two of the contributors: Kim Bannerman and Beth Daley!

The Tattooed Wolf
by K. Bannerman



Morris Caufield thought he’d seen it all…

Until the moment Dan Sullivan walked into his office. Dan needs a divorce lawyer he can trust, and he thinks Morris is the man for the job. The thing is, Dan wants Morris to represent his wife. Who tried to kill him. Twice. And as if that wasn’t enough, Dan expects Morris to buy some crazy story about werewolves…

As Dan reveals the truth about his life and his marriage, Morris listens to a captivating tale of lycanthropy, love and betrayal. It’s lunacy, he’s sure of that, but there’s something about Dan Sullivan that makes it all very easy to believe.

Blood and Water
by Beth Daley



Dora lives by the sea. Dora has always lived by the sea. But she won’t go into the water.

The last time Dora swam in the sea was the day of her mother’s funeral, the day she saw the mermaid. Now she’s an adult, a respectable married woman, and her little sister Lucie has come home from university with a horrible secret. Dora’s safe and dry life begins to fray, as she is torn between protecting her baby sister and facing up to a truth she has always known but never admitted. And the sea keeps calling her, reminding her of what she saw beneath the waves all those years ago… of what will be waiting for her if she dives in again.

Enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 9 June 2014

Coming Soon: New Digital Editions of Victorian Penny Dreadfuls

Serialized Victorian Gothic pulp fiction for the discerning modern reader!

Hic Dragones is pleased to announce a new series of eBook editions of Victorian penny bloods and penny dreadfuls. Digitally remastered and reserialized, these editions are intended to introduce modern readers to the thrills, shocks and cliffhangers of classic blood-curdling tales.

Penny dreadfuls have a significant place in the modern imagination and affections, but they are rarely read in the twenty-first century. And this is hardly surprising—with only a few exceptions, these texts can only be found in original publications or mechanically scanned copies. Until now!

The Digital Periodicals serials from Hic Dragones have been fully formatted (by a human being) to create searchable eBook texts with interactive tables of contents. For the first time since their original publication in the mid-nineteenth century, these texts will be sold as serials, with new instalments (comprising between 5-10 chapters) being released fortnightly. Readers can once again savour the anticipation of a new instalment, and enjoy these episodic stories as they were once intended.

Digital Periodicals launches on Friday 13th June 2014 with two of James Malcolm Rymer’s classic titles: VARNEY THE VAMPYRE; OR, THE FEAST OF BLOOD and VILEROY; OR, THE HORRORS OF ZINDORF CASTLE. Additional serials will be published in due course, with THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF VALENTINE VOX, THE VENTRILOQUIST coming out later in the month. As well as better-known titles, such as WAGNER THE WEHR-WOLF and THE STRING OF PEARLS (Sweeney Todd), Digital Periodicals will introduce readers to works that have unfairly fallen into obscurity: including, George Reynolds’ FAUST, Albert Coates’ SPRING-HEEL’D JACK and Pierce Egan’s WAT TYLER.

Penny dreadfuls were always meant to be pure, sensationalist entertainment, and the Digital Periodicals series is designed to inject the fun back into these under-read masterpieces of lurid, melodramatic, garish pleasure. Readers can subscribe to receive reminders about their favourite serials, and join in discussion about the stories on Twitter and Facebook

Let the feast of blood begin again…

For more information, or to sign up for the mailing list, please see the website or contact Hic Dragones via email. For academic and press enquiries, please contact Hannah Kate (series editor).

Sunday, 16 February 2014

OUT NOW: Undead Memory: Vampires and Human Memory in Popular Culture (Peter Lang)

Edited by Simon Bacon and Katarzyna Bronk
Foreword by Sir Christopher Frayling



Vampires have never been as popular in Western culture as they are now: Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and their fans have secured the vampire’s place in contemporary culture. Yet the role vampires play in how we remember our pasts and configure our futures has yet to be explored. The present volume fills this gap, addressing the many ways in which vampire narratives have been used to describe the tensions between memory and identity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The first part of the volume considers the use of the vampire to deal with rapid cultural change, both to remember the past and to imagine possible futures. The second part examines vampire narratives as external cultural archives, a memory library allowing us to reference the past and understand how this underpins our present. Finally, the collection explores how the undead comes to embody memorial practice itself: an autonomous entity that gives form to traumatic, feminist, postcolonial and oral traditions and reveals the resilience of minority memory.

Ranging from actual reports of vampire activity to literary and cinematic interpretations of the blood-drinking revenant, this timely study investigates the ways in which the 'undead memory' of the vampire throughout Western culture has helped us to remember more clearly who we were, who we are, and who we will/may become.

Contents:

- Introduction - Simon Bacon and Katarzyna Bronk

Part I: Death and Becoming: How the Human Past Becomes the Vampire Future

- Memento (non)mori: Memory, Discourse and Transmission during the Eighteenth-Century Vampire Epidemic and After - Leo Ruickbie

- Vampire Narratives as Juggling with Romanian History: Dan Simmons's Children of the Night and Elizaeth Kostova's The Historian - Marius Crişan

- André Gide, Nosferatu and the Hydraulics of Youth and Age - Naomi Segal

- Constitutional Amnesia and Future Memory: Science Fiction's Posthuman Vampire - Hadas Elber-Aviram

Part II: Vampiric Memorials: Place, Space and Objects of Undead Memory

- Archives of Horror: Carriers of Memory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Katharina Rein

- Vampire Echoes and Cannibal Rituals: Undead Memory, Monstrosity and Genre in J.M. Grau's We Are What We Are - Enrique Ajuria Ibarra

- 'Old things, fine things': Of Vampires, Antique Dealers and Timelessness - Sorcha Ní Fhlainn

Part III: Memory Never Dies: Vampires as Human Memory and Trauma

- Pack versus Coven: Guardianship of Tribal Memory in Vampire versus Werewolf Narratives - Hannah Priest

- Death and the City: Repressed Memory and Unconscious Anxiety in Michael Almereyda's Nadja - Angela Tumini

- The Inescapable Moment: The Vampire as Individual and Collective Trauma in Let Me In by Matt Reeves - Simon Bacon

For more information about the book, please see the publisher's website.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Win a SIGNED copy of Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny

Another book giveaway courtesy of Hic Dragones. This time the prize is a FREE copy of Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny, signed by a selection of the authors.



Feral, vicious, fierce and lost… the she-wolf is a strange creature of the night. Attractive to some; repulsive to others, she stalks the fringes of our world as though it were her prey. She is the baddest of girls, the fatalest of femmes – but she is also the excluded, the abject, the monster.

The Wolf-Girls within these pages are mad, bad and dangerous to know. But they are also rejected and tortured, loving and loyal, avenging and triumphant. Some of them are even human…

Seventeen new tales of dark, snarling lycogyny by Nu Yang, Mary Borsellino, Lyn Lockwood, Mihaela Nicolescu, L. Lark, Jeanette Greaves, Kim Bannerman, Lynsey May, Hannah Kate, J. K. Coi, Rosie Garland, R. A. Martens, Beth Daley, Marie Cruz, Helen Cross, Andrew Quinton and Sarah Peacock.


To enter:

All you have to do to enter the competition is GUESS THE NAME OF THE WEREWOLF!



Give our little lycanthrope a name!

Enter your name suggestion in the Rafflecopter box below, and one lucky person will win a signed copy of the book and a little lycanthropic bonus. International entry permitted, and the prize will be shipped direct to wherever you live. The competition ends on April 29th, and we'll announce the winning entry shortly after that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 4 May 2012

Review: Graeme Reynolds, High Moor (Horrific Tales Publishing, 2011)


High Moor is the debut novel by UK writer Graeme Reynolds. The book – told in three parts – tells the story of John, Michael and Marie (though mostly John), three friends who live in High Moor (near Durham) in the North East of England. Part 1 (set in 1986) begins when the protagonists are children, spending their time making camps and dens in the woods, and being terrorized by Malcolm Harrison and his gang of sadistic little thugs. One night, when Michael and Marie’s older brother David returns alone to their treehouse to retrieve some tools, something awful appears from out of the woods...

That’s right (in case you hadn’t guessed, given my usual material), High Moor is a werewolf novel. And it makes no bones about it. Before we even get to Part 1, the prologue, set in 2008, reveals a man who struggles to keep himself contained during his monthly transformation, an attack on a man out walking his dog, and a news report about the return of the ‘legendary High Moor Beast’, thought to have been killed over twenty years earlier. As we are taken back to 1986, we can’t help but feel a certain sense of fear for the children who play in the woods. And sure enough, it’s not long before one of them falls victim to the ‘High Moor Beast’. As the story unfolds, we find first David, and then Michael and John having to face this lycanthropic foe.

Added to this, High Moor has a policeman who goes against his superiors after realizing they are dealing with werewolf attacks, and the grizzled ‘expert’ he drafts in to help him, but who is haunted by his own past experiences with werewolves. Cue lots of silver weaponry and tethered goats used as bait.

Make no mistake, Reynolds’s werewolves are old-school: good old-fashioned, rip-your-throat-out lycanthropes. These are the creatures we know from The Wolf-Man and An American Werewolf in London, and the book has echoes of both films throughout. Only at a couple of points are we led to feel any sympathy for the attacking werewolves, though we identify with the humans who are turned following a bite.

It’s actually been a while since I’ve read this sort of werewolf story. I think I put that down to the fact that I read more female werewolf fiction, and female werewolves have a tradition of their own (which is a subtle plug for the book I’m putting together on this very subject, of course). But I think I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy this type of story. Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good ‘sympathetic werewolf just wants to find love’ tale. And I’m fascinated by all the stories out there about werewolves living (passing?) amongst humans. But, sometimes, you just want a creepy ‘there’s something lurking in the woods’ book. And Reynolds doesn’t disappoint on this score.

High Moor is a well-written adventure/horror, with a believable cast of characters and a nice dash of local colour. I have to admit, being in my early 30s, I enjoyed the 1980s setting of the first two parts of the book. It was evocative without being cloyingly nostalgic. Some writers do tend to go a bit overboard with presentations of the 80s – loading paragraphs with too many references to TV, technology, celebrities, music. Reynolds is a bit lighter in his touch. I loved the reference to the kids copying Spectrum games onto cassettes for one another, but these little period details didn’t detract from the overall story.

More seriously, Reynolds also includes some details that allow the story to avoid certain genre clichés that can be more problematic. Specifically, this comes in his inclusion of ‘gypsies’ in the narrative. Some people who have read some of my other reviews might know that the ‘gypsy’ in werewolf and vampire fiction is something of a pet peeve of mine. They are often used in a lazy way that panders to certain racial stereotypes. Now, the gypsy characters in High Moor have a lot in common with those in other werewolf fiction – particularly in their role as ‘keepers’ of lycanthropic knowledge. However, Reynolds adds just enough ‘reality’ to offer a bit of a challenge to the cliché. For example, when a character encounters the ‘gypsies’ for the first time, they (specifically the woman he meets) seem to be of the usual sort: ‘Dark, curly hair flowing down her back, curves in all the right places, and amber eyes that looked straight into your soul.’ Nevertheless, the man’s reaction seems more ‘real’, given that he is meeting the woman in 1944: ‘To tell you the truth, I was surprised to see anyone of Romany origin in the area. Most of them had been rounded up by the Nazis and sent to the death camps at Jasenovac.’ Back in the UK, ‘gypsy’ camps are presented more as our familiar ‘travellers’ camps’, rather than a romanticized version common to werewolf/vampire fiction. This causes one character to wonder whether people are suspicious of them because they know there are werewolves around, or because they are just generally suspicious of travellers.

If I had one criticism, it would be that the ‘bad’ werewolf that appears in the third part of the novel is a bit too powerful. In the world that Reynolds has created, werewolves can build up amazing power and skills, but this appears to be the result of years of living with the condition. The final showdown, though, features a newly-made werewolf who comes pretty close to defeating lycanthropes who have had a couple of decades to learn how to fight like a werewolf. I understand that this is necessary for a good climactic showdown (otherwise the fight would have been over pretty quickly!) but it seemed a bit hard to believe that this werewolf had become some a formidable foe so quickly. Nevertheless, perhaps I am being a bit unfair here, as the earlier parts of the novel had definitely set up that this character was pretty nasty as a human, maybe this would account for his brute strength as a werewolf? There’s a line in another werewolf novel (I think it’s Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, though I could be wrong) that states ‘angry people make bad werewolves’, and I think that certainly holds true in High Moor.

Overall, High Moor is an accomplished first novel. The writing is well-paced and enjoyable, the characters engaging and the ending intriguing (and definitely points to a sequel). This is not the most original take on werewolves. But though the reader is on familiar ground, it is well-loved ground, and this is no bad thing. For a first release from a (very) small press, High Moor is really promising, and I hope to see more from Graeme Reynolds and Horrific Tales Publishing.

Read my interview with Graeme Reynolds here

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Monster High vs. Sweet Valley High

A while ago, I wrote a post on Mattel’s range of ‘Monster High’ dolls, particularly on their female werewolf, Clawdeen. Not long afterwards, I picked up a copy on Lisi Harrison’s first Monster High novel to see if Clawdeen shaped up any differently in print than in plastic. Like the toy range, Harrison’s novel is aimed at the ‘tween’ market – specifically pre-teen girls – which made me think back to what I used to read when I was a pre-teen girl myself. Some people may be surprised by this, but I actually devoted quite a scary amount of my ‘tween’ years to working my way through Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series. (For those of you who either don’t remember, or don’t want to remember, this series, the Sweet Valley High books were about identical twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, from California, who had to deal with all the usual high school problems of growing up, falling in love, being ridiculously rich and beautiful, and coping with jealousy from people marginally less rich and beautiful than themselves.)

Reading the Monster High novel stirred a distant memory of a werewolf-themed Sweet Valley High mini-series. I got rid of all my Sweet Valley High books when my tastes turned to more blood-thirsty fare, but I seemed to remember keeping hold of one of the werewolf books (A Date With a Werewolf)… obviously knowing where my future career would lead me. Sure enough, I managed to dig it out (along with a whole load of other books from my pre-teen/teen years that I don’t think I’ll mention here).

So, I thought it would be kind of interesting to compare Monster High and Sweet Valley High’s take on werewolves, and to see if anything has changed in the world of tween lycanthropes in the last two decades.

Monster High



Harrison’s novel, in a wonderfully late-capitalist way, is an adaptation of a toy range. While the Monster High dolls are simply ‘characters’ with profiles, outfits and accessories, the book seeks to offer some backstory and ‘depth’ to their presentation. The story takes place in Salem, Oregon, where monsters (or RADs – Regular Attribute Dodgers – as they call themselves) have taken refuge, believing a) they are in Salem, Massachusetts and b) Salem, Massachusetts is a safe haven for monsters, given that a lot of witches live there happily. I’ll just leave that odd logic to one side for now, as Harrison does in the novel.

The story follows the parallel experiences of two new girls at Merston High. The first is Melody Carver, a human (or ‘normie’ as the monsters call them) girl who has experienced bullying due to her physical appearance at her old school. Her father, a plastic surgeon, has ‘corrected’ her face, leaving Melody feeling hollow as people now only like her because she is pretty. Her airheaded and materialistic sister, Candace, ignores any sign of Melody being bullied, calls her by the name (‘Smellody’) her bullies have used, and seems only to care about designer labels and expensive accessories. The second new girl at the school is Frankie Stein, the newly-created and green-skinned ‘daughter’ of Viktor and Viveka Stein, and granddaughter of ‘Dr. Viktor Frankenstein’ (a weird amalgam of the creator and the creation of Mary Shelley’s novel, viewed through the lens of subsequent films and Hallowe’en costumes). Though Frankie has had 15 years of memories and knowledge placed into her head – including, apparently, literature, art, culture, science and history – she is an extraordinarily shallow creation, who is absolutely obsessed with fashion and celebrity. Both Frankie and Melody are desperate to make friends at their new school, but both encounter problems with ‘fitting in’.

On her first day at Merston High, and in a scene which should be familiar to anyone who has seen any films about high school girls, Melody bumps into one of the popular girls and is humiliated in front of the entire cafeteria. The difference here, though, is that the girl she gets on the wrong side of is Cleo (a mummy), who is accompanied by Claudine (a werewolf). Melody is consistently snubbed and mocked by Cleo and Claudine, and also by Blue (a mermaid) and Lala (Draculaura, a vampire). The only friends she can make are a couple of rather odd human girls, who have also been slighted by Cleo and are out for revenge. Frankie, on the other hand, is immediately accepted by Blue and Lala, who introduce her to Cleo and Claudine, and soon the girls are all heading off to an expensive spa for the day. They admit later that they all suspected she was a monster, even before this fact was confirmed. Despite its tagline of ‘Fitting in is out’, the message of the book seems fairly clear: in a world where the popular girls are all monsters, you’re nothing without monstrosity. In fact, Melody’s experience at Merston High seems to suggest that the monsters are just as superficial, cliquey and bitchy as the girls she has left behind in Beverly Hills – only the criteria for acceptance have changed.

But what of the werewolf (since Clawdeen/Claudine was the creature that sparked my interest in the first place)?

The first description of Claudine reads as follows:
Two attractive alternative girls, consumed by their own conversation, tried to squeeze past them. The Shakira-looking one, who had auburn curls and a tray stacked with Kobe beef sliders, made it by Jackson. […] ‘Untrue!’ barked the girl with the sliders. […] The barker wore purple leggings and a black bomber jacket lined in fur the same color as her hair. (pp. 54-5)

The second:
Claudine turned away from the window. “Hey,” she said, tearing open a bag of organic turkey jerky. Her looks – yellowish-brown eyes, a mess of auburn curls, long manicured fingernails painted bronze – were just as striking as Cleo’s but in a more wild, feral way. Her style, however, seemed tamer: all-American with a touch of old-world Hollywood glamour. (p. 83)

It should be remembered, at this point, that Harrison has not actually revealed that Claudine is a werewolf. In fact, apart from Frankie, we’re not yet sure that any of the other characters are ‘RADs’. However, there are a good few clues as to Claudine’s nature here. She is often seen eating meat, unlike the rest of the characters who are remarkably picky about food (Lala is a vegan, and the school cafeteria is divided up into coloured ‘zones’ for people with restricted diets). Not only that, but she eats larger quantities of meat, and eats them impatiently: her tray is ‘stacked’ with beef sliders and she tears into the bag of jerky. Perhaps a bigger giveaway is her fur, which she is always seen wearing, and which is the same colour as her hair. Later on, it is revealed that this is because it is her hair. Notice as well that Claudine has a ‘mess’ of curls and ‘wild, feral’ eyes. Compared with the Elizabeth Taylor –esque look of Cleo and the pale Goth-look of vampire Lala, and it’s not difficult to play spot-the-werewolf.

In my previous post on Mattel’s Clawdeen Wolf doll, I commented on the focus on her sexual identity. The character’s profile on the official website, for instance, refers to one of her hobbies as ‘flirting’. This is not as evident in the novel, as all the female characters are obsessed with either attracting males or with punishing other females who have attracted the males they were after. What is introduced in Harrison’s novel, however, is that other mainstay of recent female werewolf fiction – the pack. Apart from Frankie’s creators/parents, Claudine’s family is the only monster family introduced in any detail. She has a large group of overprotective brothers, who are leery, hairy and generally hyper-masculine (in a frat-boy kind of way). Claudine is both resentful of their protectiveness and mindful of the need to stay loyal to them, which is fairly typical of the way the ‘pack’ is presented in much recent fiction.

What is interesting, perhaps, in the Monster High book and toy range (and I’ve only read the first book in a series, so I don’t know if this comes up later on) is that any question of transformation is avoided. Claudine/Clawdeen appears to be more a hybrid half-wolf, half-woman than a woman who transforms into a wolf. She has a pelt while clearly in ‘human’ form, which allows her to hide her lycanthropy by getting body waxes at an exclusive spa (where mermaids can take salt baths and mummies can get massages). At no point is it suggested that she, or her brothers, will undergo a complete bodily transformation, nor that she will pose any particular threat to human beings should this happen. Indeed, the only monster who causes harm to humans is the (bizarrely male) gorgon, Deuce, who accidentally drops his sunglasses and turns an innocent bystander to stone (which is dismissed rather callously by the narrator).

Sweet Valley High



How, then, does this compare to a tween novel of nearly twenty years ago? In many ways, the world of Sweet Valley High and Monster High are scarily similar. High school cliques, ‘girl politics’ and the need to attract good-looking males are consistent themes of both series. The materialistic world of these teenagers is also similar in both series. The characters of Monster High are so obsessed with designer clothes and labels, it is difficult to read some passages due to the sheer number of brand names. Even the supposedly ‘alternative’ Melody, who is explicitly described as rejecting her contemporaries’ obsession with fashion, doesn’t wear trainers, but ‘Converse’, and is attracted to a young man when she notices that he also wears this brand of shoe.

This is not a million miles away from the world of Sweet Valley High, where Jessica Wakefield’s focus on appearances is often held up as a contrast to Elizabeth’s studious and serious persona (studious and serious while dressed in expensive clothes, of course). At one point in A Date With a Werewolf, Jessica is musing on a series of gruesome murderers which may have been perpetrated by her boyfriend (who may also be a werewolf); her reaction to this, and to the discovery of a mutilated body in her own bed, is to go to Harrods. After all, she thinks, ‘If shopping wouldn’t cheer her up, nothing would.’ (p. 131).

If the reference to Harrods threw you there, I should probably give some summary of the plot of A Date With a Werewolf. This is the second book in the Horror in London mini-series (I’m afraid I haven’t kept, or maybe never read, the other two). Elizabeth and (implausibly) Jessica have won prestigious internships with the London Journal, and are spending the summer in England. Jessica has caught the eye of Lord Robert Pembroke, a member of the aristocracy, and Elizabeth is sort of cheating on her long-time boyfriend with ‘sensitive’ poet Luke. Meanwhile, a series of brutal murders are occurring in London, and are being covered up by the papers. Luke has persuaded Elizabeth that these murders are the work of a werewolf, and, worse, that the lycanthrope is none other than Robert Pembroke. Believing her sister to be in danger, Elizabeth investigates further…

I could dwell on the ludicrousness of this storyline, but I won’t. Suffice to say, the version of lycanthropy in Sweet Valley High is quite different to that presented in Monster High. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the werewolf is a vicious killer. Within the opening pages of this book, Elizabeth finds a dead woman: ‘And her throat had been ripped open… as if by a wild beast.’ (p. 2) In case we didn’t get the beast reference, we are then told: ‘And as if to add credence to the werewolf theory, some of the Pembrokes’ sheep had been found with their throats ripped open – just hours before Joy’s murder.’ (p. 3)

As the story progresses, it’s clear that we’re in ‘Wolfman’ territory (in fact, the sequel to this book was called Beware the Wolfman). The werewolf is a lone predator, possibly an aristocratic male transformed by some sort of curse, who is changed from human form to wolf, and is consumed by an uncontrollable blood lust. To underline this, the book contains a veritable encyclopaedia of lycanthropy, including warnings from gypsies, a silver talisman with a pentagram on it, wolfsbane, full moons, ‘wolf imagery in Native-American rites and rituals’ (p. 37), silver bullets and ‘medieval werewolf trials’ (p. 90). The book owes much of its presentation of werewolfism to The Wolfman, particularly in the presentation of the alleged werewolf’s father, who seeks to both protect his son and understand his curse. Weirdly, the book seems almost prescient, as its presentation of Lord Pembroke Sr. seems to point forwards to the recent remake of The Wolfman more than the original.

Obviously, with the books being set in London, there are nods to An American Werewolf in London, particularly the fact that Luke takes Elizabeth to drink in a pub called ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’. I can only assume that this pub is a little different to its famous namesake, as it is in central London and apparently serves coffee.

The London setting of the book is not very convincing, to say the least. This version of London is a couple of miles away from Stonehenge, has large country estates (with sheep) close by and has a royal family who all live cosily in Buckingham Palace. One of the subplots features the ‘youngest daughter of the Queen of England’, who has escapes from Buckingham Palace, pretends to be a ‘working-class girl from Liverpool’ and helps her boyfriend to set up ‘free medical care for the poor’ (clearly, all that time locked up in Buckingham Palace means she hasn’t heard of the NHS).

This inaccurate and romanticized version of ‘London’ has a direct impact on the version of lycanthropy in A Date With a Werewolf. We are in the Victorian Gothic world of the tortured, but killer, werewolf, rather than the North American world of the wolf pack. The London that Elizabeth and Jessica visit is the home of Jack the Ripper, and an ‘eerie werewolf exhibit at the wax museum’ (p. 16). It is a world in which a member of the aristocracy can murder his servants with impunity, as his father has ultimate control of the press. There is even a secret door that opens from a wood-panelled library, activated by removing a first edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The Gothicism of this fictional London is what allows for suspension of disbelief, both on the part of the implied readers and on the part of Elizabeth, the supposedly ‘level-headed’ heroine. This is noted clearly in the book, when it is stated that: ‘…ideas that would have sounded ridiculous to Elizabeth under the bright California sun somehow seemed more reasonable when voiced through an English fog’ (p. 4). (I’m sure it goes without saying that, for the entire duration of the girls’ trip, London appears to be engulfed by an inexplicably nineteenth-century fog).

So, what have we learned from this? Anything?

The differences in the werewolves in these books points to diverging traditions of lycanthropy. A Date With a Werewolf is the older, Western European tradition (which was dominant from the late Middle Ages onwards, and was refracted through the lens of late Victorian Gothic), in which the werewolf is a tortured, yet brutal and animalistic, loner, whose human form disguises the beast within. Monster High belongs to a newer pattern of presenting werewolves – particularly female werewolves – that is rapidly superseding the older type. I call this the ‘American’ tradition, as it is more common in countries with native wolves. These werewolves are not loners, but rather members of a hierarchical (and often patriarchal) pack structure, which is constructed as both a source of support and constraint. That the earlier book takes place in a foggy and Victorian-esque London, the later in a small town in Oregon, highlights this.

While the werewolves may be different, the modes of femininity presented in tween fiction have sadly not changed much over the past two decades. Materialistic, narcissistic and obsessed with attracting the most popular and best-looking boys (despite occasional nods to ‘sisterhood’ and ‘friendship’), the girls at Monster High are little different to those of Sweet Valley High. Sadly, the only lesson I can really take from my comparison of these two books is that this particular construction of the vain and shallow teenage girl clearly transcends species.

It's enough to make you howl, really.