I like werewolves. Both of my current book series, Heaven’s Heathens MC and the Dawn Series include werewolves. And if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that The Lone Prospect (Heaven’s Heathens MC #1) was inspired after watching the Expendables 2 during a binge watching of Sons of Anarchy.
My interest in doing werewolves instead of say vampires came from reading a lot of books about werewolves, where in the series werewolves weren’t the main focus. I wanted a series of books that wasn’t expressly romance that focused on werewolves and werewolf dynamics and adventures and being a werewolf was more an accepted part of life than “woe is me, I am a monster.”
Monsters more often than not have human faces. See Frankenstein.
These are not necessarily recommendations. But if you like werewolf books and aren’t picky, you may like these.
1. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Elena Michaels is the only female werewolf that has ever survived the change. A journalist good at investigating, she used her skills to track down rogue werewolves and kill them. Until she got tired of the violence the life required no matter how much she loved the male members of her pack. She’s been trying to live like a human, but an old enemy is about to resurface threatening the pack she loves. Now, she’s being drawn back into that world.
This was Kelley Armstrong’s first novel. I liked the original cover and that’s why I bought it. It focused completely on werewolves and was an interesting start to a new series. Book 2 started introducing other races and after a while I gave up on it when it focused exclusively on the young witch that was also introduced in book 2, Stolen. Bitten doesn’t really hold up to any sort of in depth critical thinking when it comes to werewolves. Why is Elena the only female werewolf? She’s also an orphan who has been sexually abused and then her boyfriend changed her without permission. I can see why she left the guy. I don’t care how hot he’s supposed to be. My last gripe for this book was Elena really felt like a stand in for the author. They are both Canadian and the politics commentary was really heavy handed. Maybe it was supposed to make the book feel relevant in 2001. It just made me grimace a bit.
2. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
Business has been slow, no dead, for Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional Wizard. Until Karen Murphy comes with a case of brutal murder. Mutilated corpse, strange paw prints and a full moon. It’s going to take all of Harry’s knowledge and skill to get to the bottom of which werewolf group is performing the murders. And the answer may be closer than he thought.
Fool Moon was Jim Butcher’s second Harry Dresden Case File. He hadn’t quite hit his writing stride yet. (That didn’t happen until book 3.) In the book, Jim Butcher went through and used about every single type of werewolf he could think of to blow the readers off the scent (see what I did there) of who the real murders were. He used a lot of “classic” Universal studios werewolf lore and lore from other werewolf, lycanthropy, berserker type werewolves as well. And then he pretty much dropped the whole werewolf thing like hot potatoes in the books after this in order to pursue his Black Council and Winter Court Fae big story lines. And the times he does end up using the werewolves, it can be rather offensive, such as werewolves going into heat and the general way he describes the female werewolves. (He also has this problem with most of his female characters. I digress.) It was a good starting point for me at least to look at the different werewolf types and go research more on my own.
3. A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan’s love life has never been that great. Now, Nick, a former boyfriend who cut and run needs Rachel’s particular skills as a runner. A thief, he’s stolen an artifact that could give the werewolves more power over the vampires and now he’s been caught. It’s up to Rachel to find the artifact and free him from the werewolves. The problem is, he’s not in Cincinnati, but up in Michigan and on an island in the middle of one of the Great Lakes. And it’s going to take more than a few magical spells and wishful thinking to get him out alive.
This was book 4 of Kim Harrison’s Hollows Series. In one of the previous books, she’d made a one off character, an insurance adjuster, who was a werewolf. Kim Harrison is not someone who really outlines her books in advance, so this insurance adjuster suddenly became a lot more important and so did werewolves for this fourth book. Because Rachel Morgan is so caught up in vampire, demon and fae politics, other than some consequences of what happened because of this book and her joining the insurance adjuster’s pack for … insurance… purposes, after this, werewolves were dropped. So, this book was the best look at the way werewolf packs worked in her world. I liked it because there was one part of the book where it was clear that the lead female of the pack had as much power as the male leader. And in other books, there were female pack leaders as well. But the series became very much about Rachel Morgan, her love life and how she was so special. I read until the last book, but left feeling very unsatisfied as a reader. But this wasn’t that bad of an adventure! I especially loved Jenks in this book. Jenks is one of my favorite characters in the entire series. This was “his” book so to speak.
4. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Mercedes Thompson is part Native American, part mechanic and all coyote shifter. When a scruffy werewolf teen ends up at her auto shop looking for a quick job and a place to sleep, she helps him because of the werewolves that raised her. When his dead body ends up on her doorstep. She goes looking for who killed him and ends up getting entangled again with the man she thought she loved and had to leave them to get away from it all.
Moon Called was a promising first book, some Native American anachronisms aside. (Becca did a better review of this than I ever could.) As far as the series went, since Mercy lived right next door to a werewolf and later ended up dating him (and I won’t spoil whether that worked out or not) the books had plenty of werewolf story lines. And if you like your werewolves to be OCD barely controlled anger management monsters controlled by the patriarchy then sure, this is the series for you. Sure, there were times Mercy tried/tries to address the problem of male dominant packs but that doesn’t and isn’t the focus of the books. Most of the books are how Mercy somehow gets involved in another species like vampire or fae’s trouble despite the fact she’s a relatively low powered coyote shapeshifter. There’s no real reason why Mercy is “special” and everyone wants her, she just is. These werewolves have absolutely no basis in any sort of wolf science. Being the series is so werewolf focused, it started to drive me bonkers after a while. I gave up when another “bad thing” happened to Mercy after 10 books. (The Rape happens in book 3 btw. Just a warning.)
5. Master of Wolves by Angela Knight
Officer Faith Weston, head of the Clarkston PD K-9 department is still reeling from losing her previous dog. She’s hoping that an all business front and a new dog will help her move on and keep the attention of her lewd boss away from her. Her new dog Rambo was big and tough and didn’t give her any crap. Too bad Rambo was more than he seemed. Jim London, bounty hunter and werewolf, is certain that the murder of his friend Tony has been covered up by the Clarkston police department. There’s only one way to find out and that’s to go undercover and his dog form is perfect for the job. Faith Weston though is bringing out the animal in him.
Okay, yes, spoiler alert, Master of Wolves is a romance novel. I don’t read a lot of these and when I do they tend to be primarily fantasy focused. I’ve read Terry Spears (one book and no more, no, never again, bad wolf science, BAD,) Thea Harrison and a few others, but Angela Knight was the one I picked up back in 2006 when looking for werewolf novels to read. There are a few moments of “I don’t know what Angela Knight was thinking” when it comes to the scenes about Jim being a dog and… thinking like a man hound dog about Faith and later Faith seems okay with it? Maybe it was supposed to be funny but, yeah. 4 of the 9 books in Angela Knight’s series focus on werewolves and for the most part they are pretty much very formulaic romance novels and the werewolf pack dynamics were once again patriarchal and based on bad wolf science. Really, it was more the fact that this book was focused on werewolves and solving a mystery and using all the forms that the werewolf had to do it that stood out to me.
Five different books, five different treatments of werewolves, though most are the same “werewolves are monsters” based on no good modern science about wolves. But they each had different facets that got me thinking about how I would write a werewolf focused novel if I ever wrote one. Then I did and it’s called The Lone Prospect, available in ebook (3.99) and paperback (7.99) on Amazon.