Written by: Tim Meyer
What goes together better than occult-obsessed Nazis and gore-happy werewolves? Um, not much. Ever since reading Robert McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour, I’ve waited to get my hands on another Nazi-werewolf thriller that blends history and fantasy together seamlessly, creating a memorable story that sticks with me long after the last page is turned. That’s what McCammon’s book did for me, and I can’t recall a single book incorporating the two subjects since, although I’m sure they’re out there.
Then I discovered Wolf Hunter.
Before opening Wolf Hunter, I was skeptical. It’s hard to measure up to McCammon’s classic, and I knew the author was going to have to work hard to trump my expectations. However, very early on I realized that comparing the two was indeed wrong, and I immediately forgot about McCammon and enjoyed Wolf Hunter for what it was, a well-written urban fantasy that reads quickly and satisfies.
The first thirty pages or so is set during World War II, where we are introduced to Viktor Huelen, survivor of a super-soldier experiment gone awry. The Nazis turn Viktor into a werewolf, however he ends up surviving the war and hunkering down in Michigan. After the flashback, we are catapulted into modern times where we meet Steve Williams, a college student who is absolutely obsessed with werewolves and dreams about becoming one. Turns out, Steve finds a way to transform into half-man, half-beast, and with the help from some fellow students, he replicates the Nazi’s unique machine. He also enlists the help of a reluctant, elderly Huelen, whom Steve has to blackmail.
While Steve and his buddies are preparing for the grand ceremony that will make them man no more, an Ojibwa shapeshifter named Jack is hunting them down, a mission passed on to him from his elders. Jack is a wolf hunter, and has been hunting and killing werewolves for the greater good of mankind. Jack is probably the most intriguing character in Benét’s novel, and I wish there was more of him. Sadly, the other characters aren’t as deep, and have no qualities that entice the reader to root for them.
One the book’s positive qualities was the author’s writing style. J.L. Benét is clearly talented and controls the reader’s mind with every sentence. His paragraphs are tight, well-constructed, and keeps the flow of the story moving quickly. I enjoyed that aspect of the book, and it definitely helped propel the mediocre plot. Admittedly not a fan of explicit, gratuitous sex scenes, it was hard to skip past Benét’s graphic descriptions because of its heavy detail and somewhat comedic diction. I’m confident this author will have a successful writing career.
Negatives? Yes, there are some. I felt like there was something missing from the characters and the overall telling of the story. Steve, the main character, borderlines unlikeable. The minor characters were somewhat shallow, lacking depth, and carelessly thrown into the mix to fill a much needed void. With better pacing, the story probably could’ve meshed together better. As for the ending? The ending comes abruptly and without any attempt to wrap up loose ends, and fulfill the reader’s expectations. Ten or fifteen more pages might have done the trick, unless there’s going to be a sequel (which remains unclear).
Overall, I have to say I’m glad I read Wolf Hunter. From a horror perspective, Lycan fans will get their fill. I might be wrong, but this appears to be J.L. Benét’s first published work. And if that’s the case, he should be very proud; it’s an admirable work that most horror fans will enjoy sinking their teeth into.
Order Wolf Hunter right here.