Friday, July 06, 2007

Cycle of the Werewolf, by Stephen King

Cycle of the Werewolf
Stephen King
Land of Enchantment: 1984

A collection of twelve related vignettes about the small town of Tarker's Mills being threatened and attacked by a werewolf, though at first the townsfolk do not know this for sure. Cycle of the Werewolf is set up in short chapters, each focusing on a month of the year and the rise of the full moon which brings the return of the werewolf.

The first several chapters of this illustrated novel focus on the the attacks on random townspeople. The first several chapters feature the random townsperson discovering he or she is about to be attacked and then the werewolf strikes and at some point later a body is found.

It is only when Marty Coslaw is introduced that we are given the chance to have a storyline because Marty has seen the werewolf and lived. Marty is also a young boy confined to a wheelchair, but that does not stop him from wanting to stop the werewolf somehow.

Cycle of the Werewolf is, at its heart, a series of short glimpses into Tarker's Mills and the attacks of the werewolf. It is a brief novel, more a novella or novelette if we take the actual word count into consideration, and tells a decent enough story. If read by candlelight on the night of a full moon when the wind whips outside your window, I imagine Cycle of the Werewolf would be chilling enough. Because the short chapters feel almost unrelated for half the book, it was difficult for King to really build narrative and emotional heft. The ending is reasonably strong, but not enough to recommend Cycle of the Werewolf as something everybody must run out and buy (or borrow). That said, Cycle of the Werewolf is entertaining enough and short enough that it is a decent interlude between weightier King novels.

Had Roger Ebert not trademarked the use of thumbs in reviews, I would put mine firmly in the middle. Alas, he has and so I will not.

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