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Lair of the Beasts: The Werewolf Book

An A to Z of Fangs, Fur and a Full Moon

By Nick Redfern     August 20, 2011

 

If werewolves, hairy shape-shifting monsters, and silver-bullets are your thing, then you’re in for a big, big treat! The good folk at Visible Ink Press have just published an excellent, fully updated, and massively expanded, edition of Brad Steiger’s near-legendary title, The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings. Originally published in 1999, this is a book that, beyond any shadow of doubt whatsoever, is undeniably essential reading for devotees of all-things beastly, vicious, and full-moon-based.
 
Running at nearly 400-pages, The Werewolf Book is a seriously in-depth, rollercoaster ride into the world of the flesh-eating killing machine best known as the lycanthrope, the werewolf, or the wolf-man – in on-screen entertainment, history, mythology, folklore, and even history and reality. That’s right: if you’re on the look-out for the ultimate werewolf guide, then look no further. You have just found it!
 
Presented in easy-to-read A to Z style, The Werewolf Book reveals just about all you’ll ever need to know about moon-based man-beasts. And, the good thing is that you can dip into its pages wherever, and whenever, you like.
 
Looking to learn what Brad – our fearless, armed-to-the-teeth, werewolf hunter, himself - thinks of the 2010 version of The Wolf Man starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony “Hannibal the Cannibal” Hopkins? Does he think it’s better or worse than the 1941 original starring Lon Cheney Jr., Claude Rains and Maria Ouspenskaya? Check out pages 331-334 for the answers.
 
Wondering what Brad might have to say about The Howling, the Underworld franchise, the teen-themed, sugar-coated Twilight saga, or the special-effects on An American Werewolf in London? Well, that’s all here, too!. As are countless other entries on a wide and varied werewolf movies – some well-known and others downright obscure and long-forgotten – until now, of course!
 
Hollywood movies aside, however, The Werewolf Book focuses a great deal of its attention on the beast of the night in definitive reality, too. Yep, like it or like it not: those beasts of the darkness really are out there. You read it right; they’re not just the stuff of fiction. Indeed, one day, they may prove to be your absolute worst nightmares come to life.
 
And, for me at least, this is where Brad’s mighty tome really scores points big-time. He reveals centuries-old cases of shape-shifting, of moonlit savagery, and of wild man-monsters striking cold, unrelenting fear into the very heart of centuries-old European hamlets, latter-day American towns, and even ancient Egypt. And Brad, detailing some of the strangest and most savage cases of real-life lycanthropy on-record, successfully demonstrates that Tinsel-Town has nothing on the real world!
 
But, that’s not all.
 
An A to Z-type book may quickly, and tediously, become very sterile, dull and downright boring. After all, look at your average encyclopedia: it might very well be informative, but it can prove to be as dull as three-day-old dishwater too! Fortunately, there’s none of that here – at all. Rather, The Werewolf Book is written with imagination, suspense, excitement, clarity, intrigue and nightmarish, gothic horror – in equal malevolent, but always-entertaining, measures.
 
The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings is, then, most definitely a title to sink your teeth into! But, if you’re going to do so, I most strongly urge you to wait until (to very slightly paraphrase the mighty Ramones’ 1989 anthem Pet Sematary) the moon is full, the air is still, and all of a sudden, you feel a chill…
 
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, the latest of which is The Real Men in Black.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
1 
InnerSanctum 8/22/2011 11:22:12 AM

 I just caught an episode of True Blood.  I have to say, their versions of the werewolf were rather boring.  Add glowing eyes to a regular wolf and make sure all of them are dumb rednecks in human form.  

mosgza 8/23/2011 6:29:39 AM

Love werewolves and quickly went to review this book after reading this article, but I'm not convinced this is the book for me.  Looking at the critical Amazon reviews, I see a disappointing pattern:

"Less than 20% of the entries in "The Werewolf" Book have anything to do with non-fictional lycanthropes. There are multiple articles on movies, actors, actresses, various aspects of the paranormal, mythological monsters other than weres, and an almost nauseatingly complete reciting of infamous serial murderers. However, usable data relating to the phenomenon of lycanthropy and werewolves is conspicuously scarce."

and another:

"As I flipped through the book, I frequently found myself asking, "Why is this included in a book about werewolves?" The grounds for inclusion seem to be 'hairy/savage/changes shape'. The contents include a long list of (decidedly human) killers both modern and historical, zombies, aliens, ghouls, bigfoot (under multiple entries), non-shape changing canines from myth such as Fenris and Cerberus, and vampires. Not only is there an entry on vampires, there's even a separate entry on Dracula. In spite of the sheer number of entries, there are several laughable omissions that really should have been included, such as the aforementioned term lycanthropy. There's also no entry for silver, though silver is mentioned in several other entries. How can you have an encyclopedic book on werewolves and not have lycanthropy and silver entries?"

 

NickRedfern 8/25/2011 10:53:52 AM

Mosgza:

It's important to note that the sub-title to The Werewolf Book is The Encyclopedia of Shape Shifting Beings.

In other words, this is a full-length study of werewolves, but of other shape-shifters too - such as vampires (the old legends of a human turning into a bat etc). So, it's not misleading people - it makes it very clear from the cover that it's a study of the shape-shifting phenomenon in genera, but with the emphasis on vampires.

As for the fact that the book has substantial sections on werewolves in fiction, I'm not sure why the Amazon reviewer found this disappointing. After all, the back-cover text makes it very clear that the book focuses on (to quote it) "Television shows, songs and compure games," as well as in "film" and "Internet depictions."

So, yes the book does delve outside of strictly the realm of the werewolf in fact and history, but it's not like Brad doesn't tell this to the reader before they buy the book. It's all made very clear on the cover.

Plus, the fact that the book's sub-title includes the word "Encyclopedia" is important, as that's what it is - its not a chapter-by-chapter study of werewolves. It's an encyclopedic A-Z of data on all aspects of the phenomenon, which is what an encyclopedia is suppposed to be.

I think a lot of people who posted reviews to Amazon simply failed to understand what Brad was doing with this book, or failed to read the blurbs and grasp what it was all about.

But it's still a very good book that I definitely recommend!

Best

Nick

 

NickRedfern 8/25/2011 10:56:29 AM

Mosgza:

I meant to say the emphasis is on werewolves, not - as i wrote above - on vampires!

NickRedfern 8/25/2011 10:59:20 AM

Inner:

Yeah, I know what you mean. Proper CGI werewolves are far better!

1 

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