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Werewolves and Shapeshifters    by Darren Zenko order for
Werewolves and Shapeshifters
by Darren Zenko
Order:  USA  Can
Ghost House, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

When I opened Darren Zenko's Werewolves and Shapeshifters, I was expecting a collection of true accounts of monster sightings. I have read many books about ghosts like this, but never anything about werewolves. I was surprised, but not unpleasantly, to find that Zenko had gathered were-beast legends and folklore from around the world, and given us his own versions of these tales.

Zenko writes for a contemporary audience by drawing the reader in immediately and providing plenty of action to keep the story flowing. Each tale is prefaced with information about its origins and why it was included in this collection. Of the seven stories in the book, six make engaging reading. My favorite was A Fox in the Cathouse, based on a Japanese myth of the female were-fox, or 'kitsune'. A poor woodcutter rescues a fox from a trap. In repayment for freeing her, the fox who can present herself as a woman, tricks a greedy brothel owner, and so helps the woodcutter gain enough wealth to live comfortably.

The Curse of Lycaon is a version of the earliest known wolf-man tale from Ovid's Metamorphosis. The Wolf-Man is based on a legend from the Blackfoot tribe about a man left for dead, only to be welcomed into a pack of wolves. Two Barrels of Silver is a Hollywood-style Western, detailing the ways to kill a werewolf. The Boto tells of were-dolphins in the Amazon, who try to lure women to their deaths. The Beast of le Gevaudan is based on true accounts of a beast that terrorized Southern France in the 1760s.

The one that did not seem to fit with the others is The Wendigo, a North American tale about a flesh-eating spirit. While the 'wendigo' can change shapes, thus qualifying it to fit in this collection, the story was not told in the same manner as the others. It only spanned four pages, giving no room for the rich, detailed development of the other tales. This one presented the bare bones of the story. This might be because it was taken in its entirety from Carl Ray and James Stevens' book, Sacred Legends of the Sandy Lake Cree and not adapted by Zenko.

With the expection of the this one story, Darren Zenko presents engaging tales of were-beasts in his collection, Werewolves and Shapeshifters. Each story told is different, offering perspectives of this form of monster from all over the world.

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