5 Must-Read Werewolf Novels

Nicholas Pekearo's The Wolfman

During a recent conversation about the popularity of supernatural creatures in fiction, a hardcore and highly opinionated reader claimed that, “Werewolves are dead. They’re boring. All the storylines are the same.” I began to disagree—but then realized she was partly right. There are plenty of formulaic werewolves out there (particularly in paranormal romance), and a lot of uninspired stories employing the same old conventions and stereotypes (full moons, silver bullets, wolfsbane, etc.).

Granted, werewolves may never be as popular as vampires, but they are far from boring. Here are five perfect examples of how an imaginative writer can take a well-trodden myth and use it as the foundation for highly innovative and exciting story lines. If you’ve ever walked through the streets of Soho in the rain with a Chinese menu in your hand, looking for a place called Lee Ho Fooks, these five incredibly diverse novels are absolute must-reads.

5. Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow (2008)

Written entirely in free verse, this will be one of the most unique novels you ever read. Revolving around packs of lycanthropes living—and thriving—in Los Angeles, this debut novel is brutal, visceral, and in its own way breathtakingly beautiful.

4. The Wolf’s Hour, by Robert R. McCammon (1989)

This novel was a dramatic departure for horror writer McCammon. A blend of WWII espionage thriller and werewolf-powered dark fantasy, the story revolves around Russian-born, British Secret Service operative Michael Gallatin, who just happens to be a werewolf. Highly principled and deeply introspective, Gallatin is a tormented soul struggling to understand who (or what) he is. Intricately plotted and meticulously described, this suspense thriller offers up a unique take on the werewolf mythos.

 3. Pride Mates, by Jennifer Ashley (2010)

The first installment of Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series doesn’t get the credit it deserves, in large part, I believe, because it’s classified and marketed as paranormal romance. What Ashley has done in this series is quite remarkable: she’s created an entirely new lycanthropic mythology that seamlessly fuses elements of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and mystery. It’s been 20 years since shapeshifters, hunted down and on the verge of extinction, have agreed to become collared and “accepted” into human society. That acceptance, however, is extremely limited—although the collars repress the shapeshifters’ violent tendencies, they’ve been forced to live in Shiftertowns on the periphery of society, and are still universally hated and feared for their extraordinary abilities.

2. The Werewolf of Paris, by Guy Endore (1933)

This classic novel, set largely in pre-Revolutionary Paris, was out of print for almost half a century until Pegasus Books reissued it a few months ago. Though it has been 80 years since its initial release, it’s still a powerful—and influential—read.

1. The Wolfman, by Nicholas Pekearo (2008)

I first read and reviewed Pekearo’s debut novel for The Chicago Tribune back in 2008, and to say that I was blown away would be an understatement. Every time I write about this novel, it saddens me deeply. Pekearo was such an extraordinarily gifted writer, and The Wolfman could’ve been the first installment in a series that had the potential to help redefine crime fiction and urban fantasy. His murder was a tragedy: not only for his family and friends, but for the millions of readers who never got a chance to read all of the Marlowe Higgins novels that Pekearo could’ve—and should’ve—written.

What’s your favorite work of shapeshifter fiction?

  • alisha652

    like Valerie answered I’m taken by surprise that a person able to make $6268 in one month on the internet. have you seen this page w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • Htom Sirveaux

    Glen Duncan’s “The Last Werewolf” and its sequel “Talulla Rising”.
    Now those are *not* your father’s werewolf story….

  • Ultra GOOD

    If you liked The Wolf’s Hour then also remember to check out THE HUNTER FROM THE WOODS which is a fine collection of stories with the same lead character. Entertaining read(s).

  • Debi Biderman

    Sharon Shinn…Mystic and Rider…all her 12 Houses Shapeshifter books….Not just werewolves!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/christi.scott.31 Christi Scott

    The Wolf’s Hour..Luv this book!!!!

  • Vix Kirkpatrick

    Personally I think Graeme Reynolds High Moor and sequel should be in there!! Blood, guts, sex, fur, intrigue! it has it all!

    • Morley

      High Moor was trash.

  • Mollyann Tabachnikov

    THE AMAZING WOLF BOY by Roxanne Smolen. A great YA book, but wonderful for adults, too.

  • Geoff Roach

    Sorry, but none of these can stand up to the Werewolf the Apocalypse series, that has so much history and back story, as well as the means to how a Werewolf functions and gives so much depth and detail to werewolves that no other can compare.

    • wraith2021

      This makes me laugh. Trying to compare an RPG to a novel. You want something that uses actual legend instead of just trying to twist and bastardise legend? Then read Wolf Born, and The Wolf Born Saga: Wolf Witch. It uses actual Native American legend. it does not try to say that a werewolf is a Wendigo. In this A Wendigo is a Wendigo, big scary and ever consuming.

    • Morley

      wraith2021 is right. You can’t compare a game to novels.You should try reading sometime.

  • John T

    Here is one for both men and women. “Revenge of the Wolf” by Wyatt Michael. No sex no profanity. Poetic and pure plot. Set in Victorian England. Best Wolf book to date. A new Mystery/Thriller that does not disappoint. There’s even a book trailer on YouTube if you search it that is really intriguing.

  • lennonforever

    I think the seminal werewolf book is “The Hyde Effect” awesome and visceral

  • wraith2021

    Personally I think that Wolf Born by N. Gosney should have been on there. Awesome novel.

  • Carolina Gonçalves

    “Werewolves are dead. They’re boring. All the storylines are the same.”

    And so are vampires and zombies, but no one says so. Yeah, I know there are a lot of repetitive stories about these creatures, but the problem is with the authors, not the myth itself.

    • Morley

      They aren’t dead, there just aren’t any original stories out there.

  • Morley

    The Wolf’s Hour was a great book, except for the suggestion that the time spent as a wolf shortens one’s life. He gave a logical explanation, but it doesn’t fit with werewolf mythology.

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