My Online Prose Portfolio

"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


Howl-O-Ween

By Gary L. Holleman
Leisure Books, 313 pp, 1996

If you enjoy a classic werewolf tale (pun intended) that takes a few interesting diversions from the standard lore, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a fright-inducing Halloween story, look elsewhere.

Cyrus Trigg is a down-on-his-luck self-employed bodyguard living in Memphis when a mysterious, beautiful lady, Kyna Rand, hires him to protect her while she travels the western U.S. and Canada selling diamonds for her employer and one-time lover, Bryan Douglas. Little does she know that she possesses a powerful talisman that a Douglas henchman stole from a powerful sorcerer in Africa. She thinks it is just a pretty necklace. Naturally, this sorcerer, The Dark Man, wants it back, and he and two apprentices use their dark magic to track Cyrus and Vance on their journey. From Memphis.

Shortly into their trip, a wolf that is really a projection conjured by The Dark Man and controlled by his bumbling apprentice attacks Cyrus and Kyna. The wolf bites Cyrus and is about to munch on Kyna when the bodyguard plunges a sharp stick through its back. Incredibly, the wolf bite heals quickly, in just two hours, and Cyrus soon realizes he is a werewolf.

The rest of the novel follows Cyrus and Kyna through Alberta, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Tucson, and finally Albuquerque. Along the way, they fight off powerful zombies, both real and supernatural snakes, and enlist the aid of dead spirits killed by the Dark Man who inhabit the skeletons of the ancient Anasazi Indians. And, of course, Cyrus and Vance start out hating each but quickly end up in bed. Several times.

Holleman has written a well-paced and entertaining book. He takes a few detours from the usual werewolf lore – silver and the full moon mean nothing. Holleman’s werewolf is immortal (only beheading can kill him) and can change at any time.

Unfortunately, the Halloween link is weak. The Dark Man needs the talisman because it protects him from the vengeful spirits of past victims, of which there are many, who emerge on Halloween night to extract revenge. Holleman explains this in the beginning and then mostly ignores it, making this a fine werewolf novel that only happens to take place around Halloween.

Back to Book Reviews