Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Howling by Gary Brandner

I read this novel before I saw the film and there really is no comparison. I was so disappointed by the movie because I was expecting it to be like the book, but they're nothing alike. It's like they took the werewolf concept, the name of the main character and that's it. But this isn't a review of the movie.

After an intruder breaks into her home and rapes her, Kayrn Beatty and her husband, Roy, decide to move to the rural community of Drago. But Karyn is unable to relax when she hears howling every night. What kind of animal is making those noises?

The plot is the usual werewolf fare, but is also a fun whodunit - or who's the werewolf - with a twist.

The pace moves at a frantic speed. Kayrn gets raped in the first chapter, they move to Drago in the second chapter and hear the howling for the first time in the third chapter.

The novel has a creepy atmosphere due to the weird townspeople and Kayrn and Roy living in the middle of nowhere.

Karyn is one of the strongest, most intelligent characters I've ever encountered. When things start getting strange, she wants to leave Drago immediately. And when faced with the idea of werewolves she is skeptical, but believes and researches them at the library. The obstacles that prevent her from leaving Drago actually make sense. Her husband doesn't want to leave, so she stays for him. Plus, she never learned how to drive so she can't exactly get up and leave him.

My one complaint is the novel ends too abruptly. There should've been another chapter explaining what happened after, or an epilogue. And at just 223 pages, it's too short. But Brandner did write two sequels to continue the story.

If you enjoyed the film version of The Howling, definitely check out the book, it's much better.

Rating: 4/5


Will Errickson said...

In the book Cut!: Horror Writers on Horror Film, Gary Brandner has a chapter detailing his experiences with the movie adaptations of his books. He was shocked to see how much was changed for the first movie, and learned that all too often the writer is quite low on the Hollywood totem pole.

Melissa Helwig said...

Yeah, it's too bad that they change so much because often the reason I want to see the movie is because I liked the book. That book sounds interesting, is it any good?

Will Errickson said...

Actually, it's really good! I reread parts of it all the time. It's not in print any longer, and is of course pretty dated now, but you should be able to get a used copy cheap. Interviews/essays by Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Skipp & Spector, Ray Garton, Ramsey Campbell, Kathryn Ptacek, Joe Lansdale, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

It is going to be re-released sometime later this year.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I disagree. This book is awfully written, predictable, written with gratuitous misogyny (the rape scene in particular, which serves no function in the werewolf narrative) and the most gratuitous use of lesbian characters I've ever found in a book. I prefer the movie greatly myself, but if you are a fan of the book I recommend you see Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, which attempts to be a more faithful version of the book on screen than the first film was.

andreanorwood said...

I have seen the movie and it's hauntingly beautiful and it scares you of course, but I guess I wasn't thinking when it came to it being a book. I guess it's because I never looked into it. I always settled for the movies and not at the time looking for the book. I am glad I know now that it is one and I will be reading it. I am a writer myself and should have known better, I guess I just wasn't thinking about it at the time as I was going through so much. I was very young then, twleve or thirteen and kids that age rarely read about stuff like that. It wasn't until my young adult hood that I first saw it. I was raised by strict guardians, and the male was a minister. But, the movie is great! Way to go Gary Brander!