Next week, Benjamin Percy’s great werewolf novel, Red Moon , will come howling into bookstores with a fury, possibly destroying everything in its path. Percy’s novel manages to be blockbuster-style captivating, politically fascinating, and quite literary all at once, which makes it a solid pre-summer read, even if werewolves give you the willies. Then again, if you already like wolf stories, you’ve come to the right place — read on for Percy’s take on five of his favorites.
“The Company of Wolves,” Angela Carter
Percy: Carter once told a man who asked what her writing was like, “My work cuts like a steel blade at the base of a man’s penis.” It does indeed in The Bloody Chamber , her brilliant book of fairy tales, all of them feminist revisions. “The Company of Wolves” not only features exquisitely lyrical passages, but closes with Little Red Riding Hood refusing to play the victim, owning her sexuality, with the Big Bad Wolf lying passive and naked in her lap while she picks and eats the lice from his head.
The Wolf’s Hour, Robert R. McCammon
Percy: McCammon has fallen off the radar in recent years, but when I was in high school, he was one of my favorite sorcerers. I read every book of his I could get my hands on, and this might be my favorite of them all. It concerns a WWII spy who parachutes into Paris for “one last job” to revenge his dead lover and battle back against a German plan called the Iron Fist that threatens the D-Day invasion. Oh yeah, and if that doesn’t sound badass enough, he’s a werewolf.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , Robert Louis Stevenson
Percy: Hyde might not sprout fur and fangs, but he is a werewolf all the same — a representation of the unchained id, the wildness crouched inside all of us.
The Cycle of the Werewolf , Stephen King
Percy: Yes, it was made into the so-bad-it’s-good 1980s film Silver Bullet (starring a wheelchair-bound Corey Haim and a drunk, potbellied Gary Busey), but I know and cherish the illustrated version of the novel best, which features a small town terrorized by a werewolf priest.
“Bisclavret (The Werewolf),” Marie de France
Percy: The poem of the werewolf baron whose errant wife (with the aid of a knight) betrays him by hiding his clothes, banishing him to a life in wolf form. He is not the terror, but the victim, reminding the reader that the worst of us sometimes are hairy on the inside.