Werewolves and Shape Shifters: Encounters with the Beast Within is not a mere book, but a thick tome of wonderful, frightful shapeshifter stories. Editor John Skipp lovingly collected 30-plus pieces, introducing each with a remarkable photo-realistic illustration and brief insightful commentary. My hat’s off to his masterful effort.
While most tales are of werewolves, many show humans changing into other creatures or other things. The stories are all imaginative, many weird, some even more weird, others haunting and terrifying. There’s heartache, love, humor, mystery, redemption, and more.
Among the many great stories, two that stand out to me are, “The Skin Trade” by George R. R. Martin and “War Pig” by Carlton Mellick III. In Martin’s, we get a noir detective story that unfolds a slow-burn mystery sharpened with danger and surprise that’s truly satisfying. In contrast, Mellick’s bizarre story where shedding one’s humanity means a ticket out of poverty with the bonus of stardom (if but short-lived), is funny and surprisingly touching.
Another affecting one is “Strange Skin,” by Bentley Little. It’s a story of disturbing obsession, which includes not a metamorphosis of the entire body but a transformation of one particular piece of anatomy.
After the last story in the anthology, Skipp helpfully describes where you can read (and watch and play) more great stories. I’ll be certain to check those out too.
In the meantime, Werewolves offers readers a large pack of stories that they can enjoy again and again.