Hour of The Beast
C. Michael Forsyth
Outskirts Press, $18.95
Review by Darkeva
Remember Lon Chaney’s classic The Wolfman? What about An American Werewolf in London? Or are you more a fan of the recent Teen Wolf series that’s been airing on MTV? Perhaps you were also a fan of the film Ginger Snaps. Aside from all of these films featuring werewolves as central characters and pointing to the furry creatures as a perennial favorite in the horror genre, they all have something that fans of the monster can enjoy, and whether you prefer one type of film over the other, C. Michael Forsyth’s novel Hour of the Beast has something to offer everyone, no matter what your preference.
Jeff and Elaine Stern, a newly married couple, are driving together late at night, presumably on their honeymoon. Soon enough, something goes wrong, and they get attacked by an animal that they hit with their car. Although Elaine has realized at this point that it’s a werewolf, she still describes the beast as a dog or bear, which made me wonder why she would since she knew its true nature. Despite that glitch, it’s a taut scene that depicts the ultimate form of violation (and on a woman’s wedding day, no less), which brings us to the present timeline where we meet her kids, twin boys, Joshua and Jason. One is strong, furry, and bestial while the other is scrawny, and has “the brains.” It’s not really hard to see where this is going, folks. They eventually make their way to Hallerton College, which turns out to be a focal point of mystical energy – the kind that can trigger and awaken a werewolf’s transformation.
Forsyth handles the old switcheroo pretty tactfully, leading the audience to think harder about which brother is the real werewolf, and although the parallels to Cain and Abel are obvious and, in fact, alluded to when one twin says that he isn’t his brother’s keeper, the author tries to mix things up by introducing the mythological element of werewolf origins in the form of a professor with an otherworldly thirst for knowledge. She goes on to play a much more important role further down the line, a welcome change from the novels that use secondary characters as little more than props.
Jason and Josh are both into the same girl, and as luck would have it, she falls hard for one of them. And although the narrative style could have been better executed, the plot itself is compelling and presents equal parts teenage drama/self-discovery mingled with the horrors of a werewolf transformation that definitely sets this far apart from Twilight territory.
The plot twist at the end concerning Ezekiel Hallerton is obvious if you go back, but nevertheless, Hour of the Beast is a fast-paced, highly entertaining book that will have you turning the pages until the very end; definitely worth it to put on your shelf if you’re a werewolf fan.