Friday 31 October 2014

Eden Phillpotts-Lyncanthrope: The Mystery of Sir William Wolf (1938)

"...there is a chance that the monster may be local, when in bodily shape, so I come to you."

"I don't know a were-wolf among my patients, if that's what you mean, Bill."

Is something horrific stalking the grounds of Stormbury estate? Sir William Wolf, the recent heir, certainly believes that there is despite the skepticism and protestations of his closest friends and family. William, melancholy, superstitious and with an interest in the occult, is certain that a poem contained in an old book of legends discovered in the Stormbury library has a prophetic significance for him and that a lupine vengeance for an unknown family wrongdoing will occur on New Year's night. As the omens contained in "Twilight of the Wolf" appear to be coming true, William is urged to disregard the poem or leave the estate altogether but he is determined to confront what he believes will be a werewolf.  And if his morbid and fatalistic resignation and occult beliefs aren't troubling enough to those around him, the Stormbury heir believes that he himself is slowly turning into a werewolf  and that, as the poem prophesizes, "wolf shall meet wolf."

The basic plot of Lycanthrope emphasizes the horror elements but the novel is actually a horror and detection hybrid (although most of the detection occurs "off-stage") and is rather lacking in atmosphere and chills. While the novel has a setting contemporary to the publication date, the florid style of the writing and the languid pace of the storytelling give it a decades-earlier flavour (the author was 76 upon publication) so that the novel is best recommended to the patient reader who values the old-fashionedness of the tale.

Verdict: I enjoyed it but could have used a little more meat on this lyncanthrope.