Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ex Libris: Bestial by William D. Carl


Werewolves can't get any respect. While the vampire gets discovered not once (Bram Stoker's Dracula), not twice (Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat), but thrice (Stephenie Meyer's Twilight), while their poor hick cousin of a monster, the zombie, is having a heyday, the werewolf isn't getting that much love. In fact, they can't even get a decent book out of the exchange.

Which is why William D. Carl's Bestial-- a vision of a werewolf apocalypse-- promises to give these furry monsters their own time to shine but turns out to be a terrible waste. No wonder werewolves don't get any love in today's vampire-drenched, zombie-overloaded pop culture.

What's not to like?  Bestial's initial chapter is decently crafted, the narrative flowing pretty quickly from a bank robbery that goes south with the initial spread of the so-called "werewolf" virus to the outbreak that takes down a whole city. However, the story soon follows its own downward spiral as the chapters alternate from the survivors' tale of the first day to the patient zero's own travails hidden in a medical office. 

Unfortunately,  Bestial's action sequences-- while gripping-- can't save this cliche of a story with its stock paper-thin characters, boring characterization and flimsy hand-waving science . Throw in a distorted timeline (the virus spreads so fast/slow depending on the writer's requirements for the story) and a interesting concept that doesn't go nowhere and you'll find yourself wondering why the hell you bought the book in the first place. 

Even the finale of the survivors trying to escape the military quarantine of the city isn't enough to keep you going. In particular, even with so many deaths due to the outbreak, it's surprising to see all the major characters in Bestial survive. (After all, isn't that the whole point of horror stories? Why invest your interest in the characters if they're not going to get slaughtered later on?) 

There have been some great werewolf movies and books. (Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers comes to mind.) Sadly though, Bestial is not one of them. And with the number of terrible B-movies and badly-written small-press published books being made about the werewolf, why would people take this monster seriously? 

4 comments:

Ryan said...

off the top of my head, there's that benico del toro movie, an american werewolf in london, an american werewolf in Paris, and red riding hood

banzai cat said...

another one is ginger snaps. but so far, no good books. which is a shame because the werewolf horror is pretty good.

Laura Owen Little said...

The twilight saga does have werewolves in it.
I think people should write about other supernatural creatures like unicorns, angels, demons, werewolves, werecats (yes there is such a thing as werecats) and hybrids (half human half something else).

banzai cat said...

heck i'd be happy to read books about el chupacabras and djinnis and wendigos and...