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The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature
Brian J. Frost
Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 364 pages

Bryan Ellington
The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature
Brian J. Frost
Brian J. Frost is the editor of Book of the Werewolf (1973) and author of The Monster with a Thousand Faces: Guises of the Vampire in Myth and Literature (1989). Also a leading authority on vampire fiction, Frost was born in Leicester, England, and has spent all his working life in the printing industry. Reading weird fiction has long been his main recreation. A part-time writer since the late sixties, he has contributed articles to fan journals.

Publisher's page
Author's book on vampires

Some werewolf pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.


  • The Werewolf by Clemence Housman
  • The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould: 1, 2, 3
Isaac Asimov's Werewolves
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

As I mentioned in a previous review of Isaac Asimov's Werewolves, werewolves garner much less attention than do vampires. Partly this may be because our image of werewolves is that they are bestial and violent, whereas vampires -- while perhaps evil -- can be suave and sensuous. Well, now, with the publication of Brian J. Frost's The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature, you can assuage your lycanthropophilic obsessions, and with its 73 page bibliography of werewolf-related materials, build quite a to-read list.

Frost's extensive and seemingly exhaustive survey of werewolf literature begins with a short introduction to werewolves, a survey of reference works (i.e. non-fiction) on werewolves themselves, a chapter on werewolf fiction from its origins to the early 20th century, an extensive survey of werewolf tales in the pulps, and several chapters on recent werewolf literature. Frost glosses over the 16th and 17th treatises on werewolves in a couple of pages, so if your interest is in this area you best refer to Montague Summers' The Werewolf, but bring along a good knowledge of Greek, Latin, and French.

The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature is a reworking of the running introduction (it continued in parts between reprinted stories) of Frost's 1973 reprint anthology Book of the Werewolf -- an excellent collection, by the way. In this earlier attempt at an overview of werewolf literature. Frost was much more forceful about stating what, in his opinion, was good and what wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. Similarly, Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould's The Book of Werewolves (1865) expressed a strongly held opinion that werewolves were people with mental disorders, not tools of Satan, whereas Rev. Montague Summers' in his The Werewolf (1933) clearly took a theological stand that werewolves existed and were a personification of Christian evil. One can disagree with Baring-Gould or Summers' points of view, but one must admire them for their passion. The current work, while it does rank the quality of the works it surveys, seems much more equitable and tactful than the earlier version. This left me a bit disappointed -- the lack of bias in preparing such a work is commendable, but leaves one more with an annotated list than an a critical -- if biased -- review of the genre.

The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature is clearly laid out, with a large, easy-to-read typeface, an extensive bibliography and index, and a survey of werewolves in the pulps that was clearly lacking. However, in each section, the books and stories which are relegated to a mere mention are simply cited one after the other, frequently over more than one page. Here it might have been more efficient for the reader if these had been summarized in a table with title, author and publisher. Also, it might have been nice to see pictures of the covers (or cover pages) of some of the works mentioned, though this is a decorative issue rather than one of substance.

Nonetheless, Frost's The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature remains the best thing out there if you want to explore modern werewolf literature. It is even-handed, gives good coverage to recent works, and avoids the abstruseness of some earlier works. So don't wait for the moon to be full, put on your wolf-pelt and lope out to your local bookstore for a copy.

Copyright © 2004 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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