The Wolfman by Jonathan Maberry was my second foray into werewolf horror. It was a decent book in both story and prose, but ‘decent’ is about all I can say about it.
My biggest critique of The Wolfman, however, is on the language mechanics level. In this work, Maberry suffers from the incurable “felting” disease. I cannot count how many times Lawrence Talbot ‘felt’ one way or another. In both undergrad and in Timon Esaias’ modules, “he felt” was a surefire way to get a full letter grade knocked off (or something of the equivalent). There are so many other ways that one can show feelings and struggles. “Felting” violates the age old “show, don’t tell” rule. I found it more than distracting, as it would have been something I would have been circling and crossing out if this were a peer review manuscript.
This hook on the word ‘felt’ detracted a lot from the characters for me. They “felt” (see what I did there?) very one dimensional, especially Lawrence. I believe that Maberry was trying to make the allusion to the character of Hamlet with his main character, but I could never be sure, as Lawrence tended to mope about most of the book.
Despite this, I must give credit where credit is due: the plot line had the potential to be a phenomenal story, especially the twisting and turning at the end. Again, we see the look to Hamlet when father and son both end up broken (dead) at the end of the work. In short, the story had a lot of potential, a lot of ‘almost right.’ I think this has to do with the fact that the movie came out first–which is interesting to me because usually we see and adaptation the other way (book to movie).
One would think that, when converting a movie to a book, the author could add in muck more thematic depth and character development for offscreen moments–all the things that book lovers get upset about not being in a film. As I’ve never see The Wolfman film version, I cannot speak to whether or not the story does this, but to my uneducated eye, it seemed like it merely wrote the scenes from the movie in book format. I felt that I could never really get a clear picture of the setting or characters besides a vaguely gothic theme. It was almost as if Maberry was relying on the film a little too much to do the work for him. As I don’t read very many film-to-book adaptations, I cannot say that this is typical. The only other book like this that I have ever read was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and that’s only because the book came out before the movie, so I had to ruin it for myself.
In conclusion, I would give The Wolfman a 3/5 stars for trying. For you all that love horror, you probably would enjoy it the same way that I would enjoy an average fantasy: a fun story that explores tried and true tropes in about the same way that they always are played out. Besides that, it was fun, no matter how many “felts” I counted by the end.