Reviewed by Morgan Elektra
Written by David Wellington
Published by Three Rivers Press
Lately it seems like everywhere we look in horror there are zombies. Even vampires are beginning to creep up all over the place. Werewolves, however, are still few and far between. Apparently author David Wellington noticed this discrepancy as well. After tackling the more common horror beasties with his Monster Island series and his vampire series, including 13 Bullets (review here) and 99 Coffins (review here), he’s decided to turn his attention to our furry friends.
Frostbite: A Werewolf Taleis the story of Cheyenne Clark, a young woman hiking the woods above the Arctic Circle, who is looking for … something. Caught in a flash flood and lost in the wilderness, she’s attacked by a wolf. It’s no ordinary wolf – it’s twice the size of a timber wolf with teeth are so large they’re practically tusks. Cheyenne is scared and cold, but she’s not surprised to see this particular wolf. She’s been looking for him her whole life.
Much like in Wellington’s previous series, though not much is known about them and they’re not prevalent in society, the existence of paranormal beings, in this case werewolves, is accepted.
Wellington’s lycans are not exactly the type of werewolves we’re used to either, which is also reminiscent of his vampires. Their transformation is instantaneous, with none of the hair sprouting and elongating limbs we’re used to, and they do not transform into bipedal half-man half-wolves but rather four-legged dire wolves – ancient ancestors of wolves today. For some this is going to be a point of contention, and I have to say it was a bit disappointing.
Wellington is great at writing characters, and Frostbite showcases this strength. Cheyenne is a great complex character. She’s strong but sometimes stupid and vulnerable and confused and endearing. She feels human and substantial. The other main characters, mysterious Montgomery Powell and hard-assed Bobby Fenech, are less developed but still strong and interesting in their own right. Dzo, a strange Indian side character, is a lot of fun and intriguing, but I definitely wanted to see more of him.
The issue that I had with Frostbite was that, while Cheyenne’s story is compelling, I wanted more wolfy-ness in my werewolf story. The fact that certain characters are lycanthropes seems almost like a mere excuse to be able to have super fast and strong characters versus gun-toting government agents. Very little of the story is spent when our werewolves are in wolf form. I don’t know if this is a stand-alone story or the first in a series. The end could read either way. If there are more installments to come in this world, I would hope we’d see more of the wolf side of things.
If you’re looking for a quick action-packed and intense story that just happens to feature some werewolves, I think you’ll enjoy Frostbite. If you’re a werewolf enthusiast you may or may not appreciate Wellington’s unique take on them. But if you’re looking for some good, true werewolf carnage, you’ll be disappointed in Frostbite.
2 1/2 out of 5
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Note: Frostbite is part of Monster Librarian’s Halloween Horrors ’09 collaboration among numerous horror fiction review sites. Be sure to hit their link to see what other titles that are taking part might be of interest to you.