Reading like a cross between Our Town and The Wolfman, Stephen King’s too short novella, Cycle of the Werewolf is on the Book Shelf this week. Serving as the basis of the 1985 film, Silver Bullet, Werewolf reads as a not fleshed out enough short story.
That’s not to say it doesn’t work. It does. In fact there are some truly chilling sequences throughout the tale.
The story is laid out in months, beginning in January, and running through to December 31st of that same year. The full moon of each month is the centrepiece for each month, and the terrifying attacks that occur then.
Part way through the tale we are introduced to the young, wheelchair bound, Marty. On the fourth of July, he celebrates with fireworks on his own (events have been cancelled because of the monthly attacks and a curfew is in play) and has an almost lethal encounter with the werewolf.
And that encounter leaves the werewolf injured, with an easily identifiable wound, which leads to someone in town.
The reveal of who the werewolf really is, isn’t really a shock or surprise. And the New Year’s Eve showdown seems to come too quick, as Marty and his Uncle Red confront the evil one last time.
It was a quickly written story, and just as quickly read, and one can’t help but wonder what would happen if King had turned this into a full out novel giving us a look at the town of Tarker’s Mills and the secrets it keeps alongside the monthly attacks.
In fact there is a nice bit where Marty is sending notes to the human incarnation of the wolf, which could have been stretched out and made all the more tense as the two circle one another.
As a short story, however, this tale works and you can see how it could have transitioned nicely to a stronger film, or… fleshed out to be a twelve part miniseries.
I think King wanted to take on a classic werewolf story that fit within the established King-verse. He’s brought a number of classic monster archetypes into the literary world, imbuing them with his own slant, and making them his own.
There are some great sequences in this story, and the attack sequences are suitably bloody, and horrifying, The opening is fantastically penned, and sets the tone for the rest of the story perfectly. I simply wish Marty and his family were given more, and the story was a little longer.
There are some interesting dynamics at play with the family that would have been cooler to see expounded on, and it makes me want more from the story, and urges me on to want to pick up another Stephen King tale in the near future.
Cycle of the Werewolf remains a fairly fun and thrilling tale.